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Braid stitches are made from a single, continuous thread which is intricately looped around itself to form a solid, even-width band.  Most of the thread lies on the surface (this has a dual benefit of keeping most of the expensive thread visible to the viewer and reduces the number of times delicate threads are taken through the fabric).

Historically, braid stitches feature strongly in Elizabethan embroidery where they are often worked in metal thread or gimp.  N.B. some Elizabethan embroidery features narrow bands of needlelace worked in metal thread which can easily be confused with braid stitches.

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Braid Stitches