Try the Fishbone Stitch

Dec 19, 2012

I am always looking for a new hand-embroidery stitch and recently the Fishbone Stitch has entranced me. I learned it as a child and then rediscovered it recently.  It's a very simple stitch resembles a fish spine and creates beautiful leaves. Make several to make a foliage design. The trick to this stitch is that you start in the center of the leaf and work your way around.  Here's how:

Fishbone stitch, front.

Fishbone stitch, back.

  Start at the center and work around.

1.  Draw a leaf shape in lightly in pencil on your fabric. Don't forget the spine of the leaf.

2.  Starting at the center of the leaf spine, push your needle up through the fabric.

3.  Going at an upward angle to the right side, make a stitch out the edge of the leaf  (creating the fishbone).

4.  Work your way up around the edge of the leaf, going from spine to edge.

5.  Once you get to the top, work your way similarly back down the left side.

6.  At the bottom of the leaf, go back up the bottom of the right side.

7.  Finish and knot off at the center where you started. 

This is one of those stitches that looks as pretty on the back as the front. Starting at the center allows you to hide your knot! You can use this stitch to decorate blouses, totes, you name it!

For much, much more on hand-sewing, the new Handsewn book is available for pre-order. Check it out in the Sew Daily Shop!

Do you have a favorite embroidery stitch from childhood that you have rediscovered? Tell us about it!

Happy stitching!


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Sher08 wrote
on Dec 19, 2012 8:53 AM

I've again fallen in love with embroidery stitches. The stitch I use most on my art quilt is a simple french knot. My goal for the new year is to expand on my use of hand stitches in my work.

on Dec 19, 2012 11:20 AM

No, I can't say I have a favorite stitch, but I do have a wonderful book. It is Erica Wilson's huge book of embroidery stitches. I must have had it at least from the 1970's, and I was saddened to read of her death in the last couple of years. I have several other embroidery books, and embroidery has such a wide variety of looks. It all depends on the "thread" and the medium that is stitched. Thanks for reminding me.