Double running stitch
- Holbein stitch
- Line stitch
- Spanish stitch
- Chiara stitch
- Two-sided line stitch
- Stroke stitch
Usually worked on an even-weave fabric to ensure equal length stitches, a row of running stitches is worked, then another row of running stitches is worked in between the first row, sharing the same holes in the fabric to create a continuous line.
Double running stitch has been used for centuries: it was found on a medieval fragment which was excavated in Egypt.
The name Spanish stitch dates from at least the 16th century when it was a popular blackwork stitch. The name ‘Holbein stitch’ is credited as stemming from Hans Holbein the Younger, the 16th century portrait painter who showed blackwork cuffs on his subjects. It was also popular in redwork embroidery across north-western Europe and further south in Lagartera, Spain and Assisi, Italy.
The use of Double running stitch extends to Morocco (both Fes style and Meknes) and to Syria where it is used on garments in Qalamoun style embroidery.
Bring your needle up on the design line and, having decided on the length of your stitch, down again. Leave a gap of the same length and bring your needle up.
Both lines of running stitch should be equal in length to one another to create an even line on both sides of the fabric.
Structure of stitch
Identifying Double running stitch
Similar in look to backstitch, double running stitch creates a line of stitches that is smoother and looks the same on the front and on the reverse of the fabric.
Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.17, p77, p121
Becky Hogg, RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Blackwork (2010)
Willem Vogelsang, 'Embroidery fragment, Mamluk Egypt', TRC Leiden (2021). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/individual-textiles-and-textile-types/fragments-and-panels/embroidery-fragment-mamluk-egypt (Accessed: 02 September 2021)
Santina M. Levey, The Embroideries at Hardwick Hall: a catalogue (2007) , p.272
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Redwork', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/europe-and-north-america/embroideries/redwork (Accessed: 02 September 2021)
Willem Vogelsang, 'Lagartera Embroidery', TRC Leiden (2021). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/europe-and-north-america/embroideries/lagartera-embrodiery (Accessed: 02 September 2021)
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Fes Style Embroidery (Morocco)', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/middle-east-and-north-africa/pre-modern-middle-east-and-north-africa/fes-style-embroidery-morocco (Accessed: 02 September 2021)
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Meknes Embroidery (Morocco)', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/middle-east-and-north-africa/pre-modern-middle-east-and-north-africa/meknes-embroidery-morocco (Accessed: 26 August 2021)
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Qalamoun Style Embroidery', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/middle-east-and-north-africa/pre-modern-middle-east-and-north-africa/qalamoun-style-embroidery (Accessed: 02 September 2021)