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Cable stitch icon
Cable stitch

  • Alternate stem stitch
  • side-to-side stem stitch

This stitch is a combination of stem and outline stitches: the two stitches are alternated (so the needle comes up on each side of the previous stitch in turn).

Cable stitch was evidently in use in the 19th century as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London holds a Turkish towel/napkin from this era featuring the stitch.

Cable stitch is generously sponsored by Susan Oldham



Working from left to right, bring the needle up and then back down on the design line, leaving a loop below the design line.


Bring the needle back to the surface halfway between the previous start and end points, then tighten the first stitch by pulling the thread through to the back.  Your needle should be above the previous stitch.


Work the second stitch by taking the needle down on the design line, again leaving a loop but this time above the design line.  Keep the stitch length consistent.


Bring the needle up half a stitch length back, this time bringing the thread up below the loop of the second stitch and in line with the first.  Pull the thread taut from the back so that the needle is below the previous stitch.


Continue to stitch along the line, alternating which side of the previous stitch you bring up your thread.

Cable stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques