clear navigate_before

Overcast stitch icon
Overcast stitch

  • Plain overcast
  • Cord stitch
  • French stem stitch
  • French stemming
Overcast stitch main image

This line stitch provides a smooth raised line and therefore has similarities with both trailing and satin stitch.  However, the padding is formed by a single line of running stitch and so is only slightly raised and very narrow.

For the version of overcast stitch used on the edge of fabric, see overcast edging.

Carol Tewes Ganse in Honour of Martina Schmid



Bring up the needle on the design line and cover it with running stitches (they should be larger on the front than on the back).


Bring the needle up very close to the running stitch and take it down on the other side to cover the running stitch.


Continue covering the running stitch closely. Make sure that the stitches are at a right angle and are butted up to each other so that they completely cover the running stitch.


A letter ‘S’ worked in overcast stitch

Overcast stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying Overcast stitch

​Overcast stitch has a running stitch core which means the stitch sits only slightly proud of the fabric surface.  The couching stitches should be close enough to ensure the core is not visible

It can be visually difficult to distinguish overcast stitch from trailing as they are both couched in stitches which completely cover the core.  If the stitching is particularly raised it is more likely to be trailing as the padding can use multiple strands, whereas overcast stitch padding normally has just a single line of running stitch.  If the surface is slightly less smooth, it is more likely to be overcast stitch as the running stitch padding can cause undulations.


  • S. F. A. Caulfeild, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.187
  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.20-21 (fig.23)