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Running stitch icon
Running stitch

  • Basting stitch
Running stitch main image

Equally sized straight surface stitches spaced at regular intervals to produce a simple line.

Running stitch has many uses, such as gathering, quilting, outlining, reinforcement for cutwork as well as the base for other stitches.

Basting stitch is a specific type of temporary running stitch used to hold two pieces of fabric together or to indicate an outline.  The stitches are normally longer than for running stitch so that they are more easily removed, sometimes the stitches on the surface are longer than those underneath.  An early reference to basting stitch features in the Academy of amory, a late 17th century publication.

Running stitch has been employed as a decorative stitch across the world for centuries: in 5th century Egypt; in Buratto evenweave embroidery in 16th century Europe; Kantha in Bangladesh and eastern Indian (dating from at least the 16th century); Sashiko in Japan (dating from slightly later); Huckaback embroidery in 17th century Europe; and Kashmir embroidery in (probably) 19th century northern India.

Some of these traditions (particularly Sashiko and Kantha) blur the line between embroidery and quilting as they normally use multiple layers of cloth, and the running stitch has a dual purpose of holding the layers together and a decorative function.

N.B. some older embroidery books refer to ‘running a thread’ - this normally means to work a line of running stitch.


Running stitch is generously sponsored by Mrs P. M. Pearce

Stitch supporters: Mrs A Morris. Veronica Rees.



Decide on the length of your first stitch then bring your needle up estimating the same stitch length for the gap.


Continue along your line producing stitches of the same length.


Ensure the under stitches are also of equal length so that stitches are equally spaced.

Running stitch

Structure of stitch

Related Stitches

Identifying Running stitch

​Straight equally sized and spaced stitches.


Examples of Running stitch