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Heavy chain stitch icon
Heavy chain stitch

  • Braid stitch
Heavy chain stitch main image

​Heavy chain stitch produces a smooth, bold outline, rather like a braid, and is ideal for heavier outlines. Each chain is produced by threading the needle under the previous loops and worked in the opposite direction from normal chain stitch.

Heavy chain stitch evidently dates from at least the 19th century, as it features on a cushion cover from that date currently held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.  The cushion is from Kalotaszeg, Romania and is stitched in wool on a linen fabric.

For more background see the entry for Chain stitch

Heavy chain stitch is generously sponsored by Carolyn Eddy



Complete a single detached chain stitch then bring the needle back up to the surface just below the point.


Take the needle through the holding stitch of the detached chain stitch.


Take the needle back down through the same hole and draw the thread through.


Bring the needle back up to the surface just below the point, then pass it under the first chain (two chains back).


Take the needle back down the same hole and draw the thread through.


Continue along the design and finish in the usual way.

Heavy chain stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying Heavy chain stitch

Heavy chain stitch can sometimes resemble one of the many braid stitches.  When a line of stitching is viewed from the side, heavy chain stitch doesn’t have any visible entry or exit points.  When viewed from the reverse of the fabric, it consists of a line of what looks like double running stitch.


  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.44
  • Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.37–8
  • Jacqui McDonald, RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Crewelwork (2010)
  • 'C19 cushion cover', Victoria and Albert Museum. Available at: (Accessed: 12 May 2022)