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Cretan stitch icon
Cretan stitch

  • Long-armed feather stitch
  • Quill stitch
  • Persian stitch

​This stitch is a series of widely offset fly stitches.

Cretan stitch has a broad history: it features on a piece of 16th century Swiss/south German ecclesiastical embroidery currently held by the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; it is used on an embroidered skirt from mid-18th century Crete, held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and it is used to decorate garments in Oman.

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Draw a double stem line. Starting at the tip of your leaf shape, bring the needle up just outside the marked line.


Take the needle down through the fabric on the line left of the protruding thread.

Cretan stitch method stage 3 illustration
Cretan stitch method stage 3 photograph

Draw the needle through to create a loop. Hold the loop and bring the thread up inside it from the back, on the left-hand stem line.


Draw the thread through to tighten the loop against the needle.


Draw the needle and thread through, then take the needle down through the fabric on the outer marked line to the right of the first stitch.


Pull the thread through to create a loop. Hold the loop on the surface, and bring the needle up on the stem line on the right-hand side.


Tighten the loop on the needle, draw the thread through and take it down on the outer line on the left-hand side.


Continue to work down towards the base by filling in alternate sides.

Cretan stitch

Structure of stitch

Common uses

It is easily adapted to shapes of varying width, such as wide petals and leaves, or spaces that are too wide to be covered by a single band of stitching.