Plaited braid stitch
This stitch consists of interlocking loops of thread which form an embellished line, anchored regularly by a straight stitch which crosses the design line. The majority of the thread remains on the surface of the stitch.
N.B. Braid stitches have been popular through history, particularly in the Elizabethan era where many versions were used, but they were not well-documented. This means that historical references to ‘braid stitch’ may refer to any of the many versions (including Heavy chain stitch), rather than specifically this stitch.
However, research has shown that this plaited braid stitch has its origins in the Bronze Age – a woman buried in South Jutland, Denmark in approximately 1300BC wears a blouse embellished with this stitch. More recently, this stitch was used extensively in Elizabethan embroidery, most commonly using metal threads. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London holds many examples, including a coif and forehead cloth which show a quintessentially Elizabethan design of flora with curvilinear lines executed in plaited braid stitch using metal thread.
Structure of stitch
Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.48
Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.51
Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012)
Karen Finch. (1991) 'Needlework fabrics', Journal of Museum Ethnography pp.15-28. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40795033
'Elizabethan coif and forehead cover', Victoria and Albert Museum (2021). Available at: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O251205/coif-and-forehead-unknown/ (Accessed: 13 October 2021)