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Braid stitch

  • Gordian knot stitch

This stitch is a relatively simple looped braid stitch where each loop is anchored by either the needle going into or out of the fabric.

Elizabethan embroidery is known for a variety of braid stitches besides this one and so historical references to ‘braid stitch’ may refer to any of the many versions (including Heavy chain stitch), rather than specifically this stitch.

This specific stitch has been first identified on a book cover containing a manuscript written by Elizabeth I in 1544 (it is uncertain whether she stitched the cover).  It is also used in another Elizabethan piece from the 17th century, currently held by the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The alternative name of Gordian knot stitch comes from the legend associated with Alexander the Great which describes a knot which is impossible to untie, although it is unclear when or why this particular stitch gained the name.

Braid stitch is generously sponsored by Amanda Power

Structure of stitch

Common uses

Embroidery Techniques


  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.47
  • Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.12