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Fishbone stitch icon
Fishbone stitch

  • Point natté stitch
Fishbone stitch main image

This stitch is made up of alternate diagonal stitches which overlap near the bottom.  It is frequently used as a filling for small leaf shapes, and can be worked open or closed from the tip downwards to the base.

Fishbone stitch is similar to flat stitch, but the angle of the stitches is much sharper.

Fishbone stitch is used in traditional embroidery by Jordanian, Syrian and Palestinian stitchers to edge strips of pattern.

Its origins are unclear, but it was in existence in the 14th century, as indicated by two pieces of Florentine ecclesiastical embroidery, where angel wings were stitched in fishbone stitch over padding.


Fishbone stitch is generously sponsored by The Hon Mrs Deborah Whitfeld



Bring the needle up through the fabric at the top centre of the design area, then back down to make a vertical stitch.


Bring the needle up at the outside edge of the shape, close to the straight stitch, then take the needle over the end of the straight stitch and down. Draw the thread through.


Bring the needle up on the opposite side of the shape, on the outside edge close to the stitch, then take it over the end of the previous stitch.


Draw the thread through, then bring it up on the opposite edge, adjacent to the earlier stitch, then down, covering the end of the previous stitch.


Pull the thread through, and continue in the same way to the end of the shape.

Fishbone stitch

Structure of stitch


  • S. F. A. Caulfeild, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.191
  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.14
  • Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.97–8
  • Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004)
  • Sheila Paine, Embroidered Textiles - Traditional Patterns from Five Continents (1990) , p.28
  • Anne E. Wardwell. (1979) 'A Rare Florentine Embroidery of the Fourteenth Century', The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art pp.322-333. Available at: