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Thorn stitch

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Thorn stitch is a decorative form of couching where a long thread is held down by an off-centred cross.  It is often used to depict thorny stems or ferns, hence its name. Any type of embroidery thread can be used to work this stitch: both couched and couching elements can be worked with a single thread or you could use a different type/colour of thread for the pairs of crossing stitches.

N.B. this is a different version of thorn stitch from Thorn stitch (Mountmellick).

Thorn stitch is generously sponsored by Diana Springall

Method

In the example below, a simple straight line is used. If you need to cover a curved design line, lay the first long stitch loosely along the line to be embroidered.

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1

Bring the needle up and work a long straight stitch. Then bring the needle up near the end of the first long stitch.

2

Work a pair of diagonal stitches so that they cross over the first long stitch.

3

Bring the needle up again to begin the next diagonal stitch.

4

Work a diagonal stitch, crossing over the first long stitch.

5

continue working pairs of diagonal stitches as required.

6

The pairs of diagonal stitches create the ‘thorns’ at each side of the long stitch.

Thorn stitch

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

Related Stitches

References

  • S. F. A. Caulfield, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.195
  • Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.19–20
  • Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.198
  • Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004)
  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012)