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Double back stitch icon
Double back stitch

  • Persian stitch
  • Close herringbone stitch
  • Crossed back stitch
  • Point Croisé stitch
  • Shadow stitch
Double back stitch main image

Double back stitch is formed by working two parallel rows of back stitch along a narrow shape, crossing from one side to the other to produce an overlapping herringbone stitch on the reverse side.  The reverse side of this stitch is known as closed herringbone stitch although some authors don’t clearly distinguish between the two names.

This reversible nature of this stitch means it works well in shadow work when using a translucent base fabric, such as cotton organdie, cotton lawn, etc.

Indian Chikankari (Chikan work, a whitework technique from northern India) uses double back stitch (bakhya) as one of its core stitches. It is thought that this influenced the 18th century development of shadow work.

Double back stitch is generously sponsored by Jiggery Pokery Embroidery Kits


Work from left to right. Mark both edges of a narrow shape.


Start with a waste knot, a little away from the starting point. Make two tiny holding stitches.


Work the first back stitch over the holding stitches so that the they are covered. Bring your needle up on the far side of the design area (level with the first back stitch) and work the second back stitch.


Bring your needle up on the opposite side and work the third back stitch.


Bring your needle up on the opposite side and work another back stitch. The closed herringbone stitch is seen through the fabric as a shadow.


Continue working double back stitch. Ensure you take your needle down in the same fabric hole as the previous stich.


Continue along the design shape in the same manner. When your back stitch is small, the shadow of the closed herringbone is darker, and when it is big, the shadow is lighter.


To finish your thread, work two tiny finishing stitches, which will be covered with a back stitch with the new thread later on. Bring the thread up a little away and leave the tail, which will be cut away later.

Double back stitch


  • Mary Thomas, Jan Eaton, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (Revised Edition) (1989) , p.4
  • Kate Haxell, The Stitch Bible (2012)
  • Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004) , p.29
  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012) , p.128
  • Anne E. Wardwell. (1980) 'The Holy Kinship: A Sixteen-Century Immaculist Embroidery', The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art pp.285-295. Available at:
  • W.G. Paulson Townsend, Louisa F. Pesel, Walter Crane, Embroidery or the Craft of the Needle (1907) , p.67
  • '1600 sampler, Margret Mason', Victoria and Albert Museum. Available at: (Accessed: 01 February 2022)
  • '1700 Turkish border', Victoria and Albert Museum. Available at: (Accessed: 01 February 2022)
  • '1700s mat', Victoria and Albert Museum. Available at: (Accessed: 01 February 2022)