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Holbein stitch icon
Holbein stitch

  • Double running stitch
  • Italian stitch
  • Line
  • Square stroke
  • Two-sided line
  • Two-sided stroke stitch
  • Roumanian stitch
Holbein stitch main image

Holbein Stitch, also known as double running stitch, is used to stitch blackwork patterns.  The stitch is the same on both sides of the fabric, hence its use on collars and cuffs which would be visible from the front and the back. The name ‘Holbein stitch’ is credited as stemming from Hans Holbein the Younger, the 16th century portrait painter who showed blackwork cuffs on his subjects. 

For more background see the entry for Double running stitch.

Holbein stitch is generously sponsored by Anne Hilker

Stitch supporters: Gillian Morgan.



In order to achieve neat finish on both sides of the fabric, work the blackwork pattern with running stitch first.


Then fill the gaps with another running stitch, i.e. double running stitch.


Continue onto the next segment of the blackwork pattern.

Holbein stitch

Structure of stitch


  • S. F. A. Caulfeild, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.184
  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.87
  • Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.121–2
  • Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004)
  • Kate Haxell, The Stitch Bible (2012)
  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012)