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Feather stitch icon
Feather stitch

  • Single coral stitch
  • Point Anglaise Stitch
  • Point d'Epine Stitch
  • Double Feather stitch
  • Briar stitch
  • Brier stitch
Feather stitch main image

A series of fly stitches worked under one another, alternately offset to the left and right.

The descriptive alternative name of briar stitch (a thorny plant) is also used to refer to double feather stitch.  Similarly, the French name point d’épine translates as thorn or spine stitch.

Feather stitch has been notably used on English smocks (garments worn by countrymen from the late 18th to mid 19th century).  The stitch played both a decorative and practical function as it gathered the cloth to give shape to the clothing.

It has obviously been in use for several centuries by this time, as evidenced by a 16th century Swiss/south German ecclesiastical piece held by the Cleveland Museum of Art.

More recently, feather stitch has been used to piece together crazy quilts.

N.B. historically, the term ‘feather stitch’, or Opus Plumarium, has also been used for Long and short stitch.

Feather stitch is generously sponsored by Doris Newbury



Bring the needle up through the fabric, then take it down to the right.


Pull the thread through, leaving a loop.
Bring the needle up inside the loop, below and between the holes, as shown.


Tighten the loop against the needle.


Pull the thread through and take the needle down to the right, as shown.


Draw the thread through to create a second loop, then bring the needle up below and between the holes.


Tighten the loop against the needle, then draw the thread through. Repeat the next fly offset to the opposite side.


Continue as before, creating stitches to the left and right alternately.

Feather stitch

Structure of stitch


  • S. F. A. Caulfeild, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.183
  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.31
  • Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.92–3
  • W.G. Paulson Townsend, Louisa F. Pesel, Walter Crane, Embroidery or the Craft of the Needle (1907) , p.251
  • Anne E. Wardwell. (1980) 'The Holy Kinship: A Sixteen-Century Immaculist Embroidery', The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art pp.285-295. Available at:
  • 'Smocks', The Museum of English Rural Life. Available at: (Accessed: 01 September 2021)