- detached wheat ear
Tête de boeuf stitch consists of a detached chain stitch with the addition of two slanting stitches above the chain stitch; collectively (as the name suggests) the parts of the stitch resemble the head and horns of a bull.
Tête de boeuf stitch was certainly in use in the 1880s, as it is clearly documented in Sophia Caulfield and Blanche Saward’s Dictionary of Needlework. Over time it has been confused with Detached wheatear stitch (both stitches consist of a detached chain stitch plus two extra small stitches) and it is now not unusual for embroidery sources to swap the names of the stitches in error. However, the strong resemblance of the version illustrated here to the head of a bull suggests that this is the correct way to stitch it.
Make two slanting stitches, a short distance apart at the top and meeting at the bottom.
Bring the needle up below ensuring it comes up in the loop central to the shape.
Structure of stitch
Made up of two straight stitches for the horns and a detached chain for the head of the bull.
A charming decorative stitch that can be used in isolation or in a group as an open filling.
Identifying Tete-de-boeuf stitch
The name of this stitch is derived from its shape, the two upper stitches having the appearance of horns, and the lower ones of a bull’s head.
S. F. A. Caulfield, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.195
Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.90
Kate Haxell, The Stitch Bible (2012)
Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004)
Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012)
Deanna Hall West, 'Stitch Head of the Bull', Piecework magazine (2018). Available at: https://pieceworkmagazine.com/stitch-head-of-the-bull (Accessed: 07 September 2021)