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Elizabethan trammed half stitch icon
Elizabethan trammed half stitch

Elizabethan trammed half stitch main image

This stitch is a trammed version of Elizabethan half stitch - the Elizabethan version of half cross tent stitch.  Tramming is the technique of laying a thread over the weave of the fabric and stitching over it to create a padded effect.  The same piece of thread is normally used for both the tramming and the stitching.

Structurally, trammed stitches have similarities with corded needlelace stitches: both lay a long thread across the design area and then anchor the thread with stitches.

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 trammed half stitch is generously sponsored by Rosalind Grant Robertson for my maternal aunt, Margaret Higgs


In common with Elizabethan half stitch, the diagonal stitches are worked over two intersections.

The examples show the stitch worked in columns but it can also be worked in rows.


Bring your needle up at the top of your design area (one thread in from the right hand edge) and take it down at the bottom right corner.  This long stitch forms the trammed element.


Bring your needle up two threads to the left of where your needle went down, and take it down over two intersections, making sure it covers your tramming thread.


Repeat step 2, working up the design area.


When you have covered your tramming thread, bring your needle up three threads to the left and take it down at the bottom of your design area, one thread to the right.


Repeat step 2 and continue in this way.  When you take your needle down you will share holes from the previous column.


A completed area of Elizabethan trammed half stitch.

Elizabethan trammed half stitch method stage 7 photograph

The three columns on the right show the trammed version of half stitch; the two columns on the left show the standard version.  Note the raised effect of the tramming and that the tramming thread is visible between the stitches and at the end of the column.

Elizabethan trammed half stitch method stage 8 photograph

The reverse of Elizabethan trammed half stitch.

Elizabethan trammed half stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying Elizabethan trammed half stitch

To distinguish whether a stitch has been trammed, look for glimpses of the tramming thread between the stitches, or at the end of rows or columns.  The stitch may also be raised when compared with other stitches.


  • Jacqui Carey, Sweet Bags - an investigation into 16th and 17th century needlework (2009) , p.75

Examples of Elizabethan trammed half stitch

© Jacqui Carey

Elizabethan trammed half stitch sample

Reproduction of a sweet bag background in the Manchester Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall (1951.441). Stitched by Jacqui Carey. The Elizabethan trammed half stitch is interspersed with back stitch in yellow.

© Jacqui Carey