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Holding stitch icon
Holding stitch

  • Stab stitch
  • Waste knot
Holding stitch main image

​Although rarely seen, this is your most important stitch. Using these when starting each thread will keep your stitches secured to your fabric.  A waste knot is so-called as it is a temporary way of holding the thread which is then cut off and ‘wasted’.

Also see finishing stitch for how to use this method to finish your thread.

Holding stitch is generously sponsored by Kathryn Hoyman


Changing the stitch direction by including a back stitch helps make the stitches more secure.


Knot the end of the thread and take the thread down through the fabric from the top (this is known as a waste knot). Pull the thread through, then bring the needle up just behind the knot, either on the line or within the shape you are filling, so that it will lie under the stitching.


Pull the thread through, then make a tiny stitch close by.


Make a tiny back stitch next to the first stitch.


Bring the needle up where you wish to start the first stitch and cut off the knot close to the fabric surface.

Holding stitch

Structure of stitch

Identifying Holding stitch

​Two or three tiny stitches close together.  They are rarely seen as they are used to anchor the thread before the decorative stitching starts (or when finishing off a thread), so they are normally hidden by the decorative stitching.


  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.39