Sunday, 22 May 2022

Sunday Stitch School - Lesson 211: Holly Braid Stitch

It is time to set out on another stitch adventure - I have five new stitches for us to explore.

The first one will be a challenge, but is it well worth the effort of trying. It is called Holly Braid Stitch. 

I first spotted it in Jacqui Carey's excellent book 'Elizabethan Stitches' (a fantastic study of historic stitches)

where today's stitch is shown as a true BRAID stitch. With that I mean a stitch made with a stiff 'thread' like gimp, purl, wire or similar. Such threads are suitable when you make a wide stitch and the result will be similar to a length of upholstery braid.

My second encounter with Holly Braid Stitch was on a blogpost at VirtuoSew Adventures where Rachel had experimented with different threads, some that made, not a wide braid, but a narrower line. I now really wanted to try the stitch with Perle Cotton, one of my favourite threads, to see if it could be a useful linear stitch for freeform embroidery.

Proof that that is possible I found in a floral design Rachel made on this blog post. DO check it out as it also contains an excellent video Rachel has created of how the stitch is worked.

THANK YOU Rachel for the help and constant inspiration you give me.

Following is my set of photo instructions for Holly Braid Stitch:

You need to follow this diagram to start the stitch line.

Don't pull the thread too tight, instead leave a loop.

When you take a bite of the fabric (F-G) lead the needle through that loop.

Now tighten the loop over the needle.

Pull the needle through and stretch the working thread upward to the left.

For the next step, take the needle underneath the three threads on the right (without biting the fabric).

Pull the working thread downwards, pull the needle through to create another loop.

Once again, you need to stretch the working thread up to the left.

Take the bite of fabric, and lead the needle through the loop.

Pull the thread to 'strangle' the needle, and take the thread to the left,

and then down underneath the needle.

Pull the needle through, and stretch the working thread up and to the left

and hopefully you now remember what to do. Yes, go through those three threads

pull through until you have a loop...

bite and through the loop...

'strangle' the needle...

lead the thread down under the needle...

three threads


bite and through the loop....... and so on.

Anchor the final stitch at the top for a pointed tip.

As you can see, I still have to work on tension and evenness. I also want the group of stitches at the start (that diagram) to be closer together.

Isn't this a real stitch adventure?



  1. Oh my! That makes my head spin!

  2. It looks complicated, but you’ve given good step by step directions. I like how the finish it looks.

  3. Thank you for those kind words! You will find that the tension and evenness with settle, and then the braid will settle into the three "columns" of floats that you see in Jacquie's book.

  4. This is a complicated stitch but you can get such a great result with it.


Thank you for dropping by and adding a comment.

Says Google: European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.