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Elizabethan plaited braid stitch icon
Elizabethan plaited braid stitch

Elizabethan plaited braid stitch is a braided stitch, traditionally worked in metal passing and used for the coiling stems which feature on many Elizabethan pieces.  It is visually similar to plaited braid stitch although the working method is subtly different, including the direction in which it is worked.

This braid stitch has four entry and exit points in each repeated element, for a similar braid stitch with three entry and exit points, see Elizabethan plaited braid stitch (cherry variation).

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 plaited braid stitch is generously sponsored by Gail Thexton

Method

Steps 1 through to 5 create a starting framework for the stitch, step 6 onwards show the repeating stitch.  When working the stitch you may find it helpful to think of it as two alternate weaving motions: the first goes over one thread and under three, the second goes under three and over two.

You may find a mellor or tapestry needle useful to manipulate the loops of thread.

Use a thread which holds its shape easily, such as a metallic thread.  A thread which cannot be divided can be an advantage as it is easy to accidently split a thread.

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1

Starting at the end of your design area, bring your needle up between your design lines and take it down on the top line, slightly ahead.

2

Bring your needle up on the bottom line, level with where it went down and slide your needle under the diagonal stitch from bottom to top (do not pierce the fabric).

3

Throw a loop ahead and first slide your needle under the working thread, (parallel to the diagonal stitch) and then take it over the loop of working thread.  Pull to form a loose knot.

4

Take your needle down on the top line, a short distance ahead of where your previous stitch went down.

5

Bring your needle up on the bottom line, level with where it was taken down - this completes the starting structure.

6

Slide your needle from bottom to top over the previous loop and then under both diagonal stitches and the top of the loop.  Pull your thread through.

7

Throw a loop ahead and then slide your needle diagonally in the direction of travel.  Go under the previous loop and both bottom diagonal threads, and then over the front most loop and the working thread.

8

Take your needle down on the top line.

9

Bring your needle back up on the bottom line, level with where it went down,  and continue from step 6.

10

Continue working the stitch.

11

A completed line of Elizabethan plaited braid stitch

Elizabethan plaited braid stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

References

  • Jacqui Carey, Sweet Bags - an investigation into 16th and 17th century needlework (2009) , p.88
  • Jacqui Carey, Elizabethan Stitches - a guide to historic English needlework (2012) , p.68

Examples of Elizabethan plaited braid stitch

© Jacqui Carey

Reproduction Elizabethan sweet bag with geometric pattern.

Reproduction of a sweet bag in the Victoria & Albert Museum (T.204-1928), stitched by Jacqui Carey. Elizabethan plaited braid is used for the short lengths of silver braid.

© Jacqui Carey
© Leeds Museums and Galleries, photographed by Norman Taylor

Elizabethan sweet bag

Elizabethan plaited braid stitch is used to work some of the lines of silver gilt.

© Leeds Museums and Galleries, photographed by Norman Taylor

Reproduction Elizabethan sweet bag with butterfly

Sweet bag designed and stitched by Jacqui Carey, inspired by extant examples.