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Whip stitch icon
Whip stitch

  • Diagonal basting
Whip stitch main image

Whip stitch is a simple diagonal stitch with a whipping/wrapping motion.  It is often used to sew two pieces of fabric together, and it can be used in appliqué to attach a small piece of fabric to the ground fabric (in this regard it is similar to stab stitch, but the stitches are slightly longer and diagonal). It can also be used as a surface stitch, and is a very simple, effective way to create a rope effect in bead embroidery. You can vary the length of the stitches, or alternate between different beads, or combinations of beads and sequins in order to achieve various interesting effects.

The image shows whip stitch used to apply a piece of fabric, as a beading stitch and as a surface stitch.

This stitch should not be confused with the action of whipping another stitch: whipping is done by diagonally wrapping a thread around an existing line of stitches, the needle is always inserted from the same side so that the slanted wrappings are parallel and crucially it does not pierce the fabric.  See the entry for Whipped as a structure.

Whip stitch is generously sponsored by Susan Stallings


The step-by-step photos below show some simple diagonal stitches as a surface stitch. The video shows two pieces of fabric sewn together with whip stitch.


Work a diagonal straight stitch; your needle should emerge level with the end of the previous stitch.


Continue working diagonal stitches in the same way.


Work from bottom to top. It is quite open when worked in embroidery thread only.


It becomes more linear and closed when worked in beads, or a combination of beads and sequins.

Whip stitch

Structure of stitch

Identifying Whip stitch

Whip stitch has similarities with stem stitch, but they are not the same.  Whip stitch is wider and stem stitches start half way along the previous stitch.


  • Barbara Danneman, Step-by-step quiltmaking (1975) , p.35
  • Lynne R Morrall, Stitchery: embroidery, applique, crewel (1974) , p.44
  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.391
  • Shelley Cox, RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Bead Embroidery (2013) , p.81