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Ceylon stitch icon
Ceylon stitch

​This needlelace stitch takes on the look of a knitted sweater. It is therefore a good stitch to sample in wool, but can be just as effective in any thread.


Ceylon stitch is generously sponsored by Kirsty Young


Ceylon stitch method stage 1 photograph

[text needs editing] Begin by laying a foundation line across the top of the shape. Make a starting stitch on the left-hand side, then lay a stitch across from left to right.

Ceylon stitch method stage 2 photograph

Couch this stitch down using a fine cotton thread in a similar colour to the embroidery thread. Cast off the sewing thread. When filling small shapes, it may not be necessary to couch down the foundation line.

Ceylon stitch method stage 3 photograph

Bring the embroidery thread back through on the left-hand side of the shape, just below the foundation line, and work a row of loops across the shape. Pass the needle under the foundation line as you work each loop.

Ceylon stitch method stage 4 photograph

At the end of the first row, take the thread through to the back of the fabric and bring it back up to the front on the left-hand side, just beneath the previous row.

Ceylon stitch method stage 5 photograph

Pass the needle through the second loop of row one and back out through the first (without piercing the fabric).

Ceylon stitch method stage 6 photograph

Pull the thread through to form the first stitch of row two.

Ceylon stitch method stage 7 photograph

Work the next stitch by passing the thread through the third loop and out through the second loop of row one. Continue in this way to the end of the row, then take the thread through to the back of the fabric.

Ceylon stitch method stage 8 photograph

Continue working in this way until the shape is filled. On the last row, take the needle down through the fabric as you work each stitch and bring it up through the next loop along.

Structure of stitch

Common uses

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying Ceylon stitch

​Ceylon stitch can be identified by the particular pattern that is created by the rows of loops of the thread that fill a shape to create the appearance of a knitted sweater pattern.


  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.33
  • Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.30
  • Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004)
  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012)