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Spaced buttonhole filling icon
Spaced buttonhole filling

  • Double buttonhole filling
Spaced buttonhole filling main image

This surface stitch consists of rows of buttonhole stitches which are worked in spaced pairs to form an open filling - unlike for needlelace stitches, the buttonhole stitches are worked into the fabric.  This means that the stitches are normally straighter than the needlelace version and can be larger whilst retaining still retaining the structure.

Some authors show an alternative version of this stitch worked as a needlelace stitch rather than stitched directly into the ground fabric, for this version, see double brussels stitch.  Other authors suggest that the stitches should be worked in groups of three or more, and that the stitch should only be worked from left to right.

Spaced Buttonhole Filling Stitch is generously sponsored by Rose City Stitchers, a chapter of The Embroidery Guild of America (EGA), in Oregon.


To ensure your buttonhole stitches remain vertical, bring your needle out slightly behind where it went in.  Obviously, if you want your stitches to be slanted, adjust your needle position accordingly.


Bring your needle up on the left hand side of the design area, a short distance from the top.  Take it down on the top edge of the design area, a short distance from the left.  Leave a loop on the surface.


Bring your needle up inside the loop of thread, slightly to the left of where the needle went down to form your first buttonhole stitch.


Make another buttonhole stitch immediately to the right of this stitch.  Your needle should go down on the top edge and come up next to the previous stitch, slightly to the left of where the needle went down.


Work a third buttonhole stitch, this time leaving a gap between the stitches.


Work the second stitch of this pair, immediately next to it.


Continue working pairs of buttonhole stitches in this way across the design area.


Bring your needle up on the right edge of the design area, a short distance below the previous row and work another buttonhole stitch, this time from right to left.


Work the second buttonhole stitch of the pair, and continue working pairs of buttonhole stitches.


The completed stitch.

Spaced buttonhole filling

Structure of stitch

Common uses

Related Stitches

Identifying Spaced buttonhole filling

From the front, it can be hard to distinguish this stitch from double brussels stitch.  However, double brussels is always worked into a cordonnet or line of back stitches around the edge and so if the edge of this stitch is visible and it is not edged like that, it is almost certainly spaced buttonhole filling.

Unlike needlelace stitches which do not penetrate the fabric, the reverse of this stitch will show regularly spaced double vertical threads.


  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.112
  • Mary Thomas, Jan Eaton, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (Revised Edition) (1989) , p.84