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Tete-de-boeuf stitch icon
Tete-de-boeuf stitch

  • detached wheatear
  • Ox head stitch
  • Ox-horn stitch
  • Buffalo stitch

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 Caulfeild 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.

Tete-de-boeuf stitch is generously sponsored by Simcoe County Embroidery Guild



Make two slanting stitches, a short distance apart at the top and meeting at the bottom.


Bring the thread out a little above the bottom of the slanting stitches.


Insert the needle close to it and leave a loop on the surface.


Bring the needle up below ensuring it comes up in the loop central to the shape.


Tighten the loop against the needle and secure the loop into position.


Completed Tête de boeuf stitches.

Tete-de-boeuf stitch

Structure of stitch

Made up of two straight stitches for the horns and a detached chain for the head of the bull.

Common uses

A charming decorative stitch that can be used in isolation or in a group as an open filling.

Embroidery Techniques

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. Caulfeild, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.195
  • Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.198
  • Kate Haxell, The Stitch Bible (2012) , p.102
  • Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004) , p.96
  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012) , p.137
  • Deanna Hall West, 'Stitch Head of the Bull', Piecework magazine (2018). Available at: (Accessed: 07 September 2021)