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Elizabethan double twisted chain stitch icon
Elizabethan double twisted chain stitch

Elizabethan double twisted chain stitch main image

This stitch is a version of twisted chain stitch, with three notable differences: both ‘legs’ of the stitch sit inside the loops; it is stitched in the opposite direction from the modern version; and the chains are worked across two stitches, rather than just the previous one.  The effect, especially when worked in a metal thread, is of a braid stitch, although the working method is relatively simple.

Historically, the stitch is used as both a surface stitch and also as an edging stitch.

Elizabethan twisted chain stitch (worked into the previous stitch rather than across two stitches) will feature in a future RSN Stitchbank release.

We are indebted to Jacqui Carey for her work in identifying this stitch in extant Elizabethan pieces, and diligent documenting of the working method.  See the References sections for details of her books which describe this and many other Elizabethan stitches.  N.B. the names used are descriptive names assigned by Jacqui Carey as historic records do not give us the names by which they were known.

Elizabethan double twisted chain stitch is generously sponsored by Rosalind Grant Robertson for my maternal aunt, Muriel Higgs

Method

This stitch lends itself to being worked in metal thread or gimp, partly because they both keep their shape but also as the structure of the stitch conserves thread as the majority of it remains on the surface.  Its appearance can be varied by changing the width of the entry and exit points.
The start of this stitch (covered by Steps 1-4) is more complicated than the rest of the stitching.

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1

Bring your needle up at your starting point and take it down fractionally ahead to make a small anchoring stitch.  Bring your needle back up a short distance ahead and slightly to the left.

2

Take your needle down just to the right of the middle of the small anchoring stitch and pull through.

3

Bring your needle back up to the left of the anchoring stitch.  Take it down on to the right, a stitch-length ahead (this will be the length of your chain).

4

Bring your needle back up on the left, level with where it was taken down.  Slide your needle through the anchoring stitch from right to left and pull the thread through.  This completes your starting stitch.

5

Take your needle down on the right hand side a stitch-length ahead, and bring it back up on the left, level with where it was taken down.  Pull the thread through.

6

Counting back two entry points, slide your needle under all three threads from right to left and pull through.

7

Repeat steps 5 and 6 to continue working the stitch.

8

The finished stitch.

9

The reverse of Elizabethan double twisted chain stitch.

Elizabethan double twisted chain stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

References

  • Jacqui Carey, Elizabethan Stitches - a guide to historic English needlework (2012) , p.108