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Double running stitch icon
Double running stitch

  • Holbein stitch
  • Line stitch
  • Spanish stitch
  • Chiara stitch
  • Two-sided line stitch
  • Stroke stitch
  • Punto scritto
Double running stitch main image

​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.

Ottoman embroideries from the 17th and 18th centuries use rows of double running stitch as a filling stitch.  It is also used in Morocco (both Fes style and Meknes) and Syria where it is used on garments in Qalamoun style embroidery.

The link between double running stitch and blackwork is exemplified by Louisa F Pesel’s title of Double-running or back stitch for her book about English blackwork samplers:

Double running stitch is generously sponsored by Mareena Hunter and Mary Brodoway

Stitch supporters: Elizabeth Hewitt.



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.


Continue along your line producing equal length stitches.


Keep the spaces between your stitches the same length as the stitches.


Work back along the line filling in the gaps with stitches.


Both lines of running stitch should be equal in length to one another to create an even line on both sides of the fabric.


Completed double running stitch.

Double running 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.