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Closed fly stitch icon
Closed fly stitch

  • Close-stacked fly stitch
  • Attached fly stitch
  • Fly stitch
  • Antique embroidery
Closed fly stitch main image

This stitch is formed of a line of fly stitches worked so that the anchoring stitches touch each other.  It has similarities with a line of closely-worked fern stitches and is often used to portray leaves or feathers.

The origins of this stitch are unclear: the name does not feature in any prominent 19th century sources, nor Mary Thomas’ 1934 Dictionary of Stitches.  However, an 1891 publication, shows the stitch under the name ‘Antique embroidery’ and another from 1888 doesn’t name it, but indicates that is used in Berlin wool work.

In memory of Mollie Cheer


You could start with a straight stitch in the middle to fill the gap when necessary, such as when filling a leaf shape.


Bring the needle up through the fabric and back down short distance apart - this will be the width of your stitch.


Leaving a loop on the surface, bring the needle up inside the loop, equidistant between the start and end points.


Tighten the loop against the needle by pulling the thread underneath your fabric.


Pull the thread through to the surface and take the needle down the other side of the loop to secure.


Pull through to complete a fly stitch.


Come up and go down for the second loop just below the first fly stitch.


Bring the needle up inside the loop, where the first fly stitch ended.


Take the needle down the other side of the second loop to secure.


Continue and work a series of fly stitches, closely together.

Closed fly stitch

Embroidery Techniques


  • Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004) , p.89
  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012) , p.112
  • Adelaide E Heron, 'Dainty work for pleasure and profit', (1891). Available at: (Accessed: 03 August 2022)
  • The Young Ladies’ Journal Complete Guide to the Work-Table (1888) , p.119-20