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Fence stitch icon
Fence stitch

  • Barrier stitch
  • Zigzag Holbein stitch
  • Yugoslav border stitch
Fence stitch main image

This surface stitch consists of zigzag straight stitches which form a horizontal sawtooth pattern, either as a line or to fill an area.  A row of vertical stitches are worked first, and then the diagonal ones fill in the gaps on the return journey.  The diagonal stitches are slanted so that they resemble a row of letter Ns (NNNNN).

The stitch is the mirror image of Bosnia stitch; when worked in one or two lines, rather than to fill an area both versions are also known as Yugoslav border stitch and zigzag Holbein stitch.

Fence stitch also has similarities with Elizabethan half and turn stitch which is superficially similar but has a different working method.

Some authors suggest that fence stitch originates in France but this is proving impossible to confirm.

This stitch is awaiting a sponsor.


Authors differ in whether they stitch the uprights from left-to-right or right-to-left, the important thing is that the diagonal stitches slope in the correct direction.
NOTE: If you use the flip view, it will show Bosnia stitch as it is a mirror image of fence stitch.


Work fence stitch in two journeys: starting from the left, work a row of upright straight stiches from bottom to top.


Then work the return journey by creating slanting stitches from bottom right to top left.  They should share holes with the upright straight stitches.


The two journeys show a completed line of fence stitch.


Continue with the rows directly underneath, sharing holes with the row above, to fill the shape or form a deep border.

Fence stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques


  • Jacqueline Enthoven, The stitches of creative embroidery (1987) , p.88-9