Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch Video Tutorial


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The Portuguese knotted stem stitch is a great stitch for outlining, especially when you want a little heavier line with some texture to it. The stitch is made up of the stem stitch with little knots along the line, making the line look a little scalloped on one side.

Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch

This stitch is especially suitable to Mountmellick Embroidery, and can be used equally well in Jacobean work or crewel embroidery.

I think the stitch looks best when worked with a twisted thread, like a perle cotton. the definition of the stitch is best retained with a more tightly twisted thread. Still, it looks fine worked with regular embroidery floss, too.

I’ve also got a photo tutorial of the same stitch, if you want to see it in “still life.” The photo tutorial shows more clearly what the stitch looks like when worked.

Left-Handed Stitch Instructions

For left-handed stitchers, the stitch is easier worked right to left. When working in this direction, you’ll need to keep the working thread above the needle, and when you wrap the stitch to make the “knot,” wrap from above going down. Otherwise, the thread will lose its twist and the stitch will lose its definition.

Here’s the video:

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(32) Comments

  1. This is so wonderful of you! Thank you so much! I have always wanted to embroider, just never knew where to start or how to do the basics! Now I can even experiment with new stitches I haven’t heard of! 🙂

  2. thankyou so much….wonderful video, and for free…God bless…I firmly believe in vocational training and want to commend the way you are making sure that the traditional embroidery lives on.
    rhoda (Indian living in Oman)

  3. Another THANK YOU! My daughter and I decided to learn embroidery as a project and found your website and these wonderful videos. They are so perfect and helpful!

  4. Funny!
    Some time ago I was searching for instructions to do this stitch. After lots of searching – i didn’t how it was called in English ou French – I found the site “in a minute ago”. There she calls this Palestina stitch or reverse Palestrina stitch.
    In fact some stitches have similar words, translated of course, but this is a peculiar word even in Portuguese – “ponto grilhão” that means “fetters stitch” – translating literally.
    I love you call it Portuguese knotted :))

  5. Hi Mary,
    I have previously tried to do this stitch with little success. Thank you for your wonderful video as it makes it look so simple and IS as I have just tried it. All the instructions I have seen all work it upwards!
    Your Web site is wonderful thankyou.

  6. hi marry, i like this video iknow basic stitch but portugusese knotted stem it nice ilike it and i want to dron thred stittch how to make this. this stitch make in meti cloth and cashmin fabric .pleas teach me about this dron thred stitch.

  7. Thank you so much for making it plain! I had taken beginning embroidery lessons before and could not grasp all of the basic stitches in one lesson. Also, the lessons were very expensive and I wound up not completing a project(snowflake embroidery kit) that was given to me for being part of the class. However, since I have seen your tutorials on the required stitches for my snowflake project I now will be able to complete it. Again, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge on hand embroidery without any monetary cost. It is greatly appreciated!

  8. I like all of your arts, Thank you for yours projects, patterns and stitch instructions. They all are usefull for us.
    God blesses you

  9. Mary-
    I taught myself how to embroider when I was 10. Not having you tube back then it was diagrams. I have a little dyslexia so some things I do a bit backwards. Like my stem stitch is stitched as if for left handed but I use my right hand. Anyway, I have learned some stitches by myself and now watching your video’s I see that I have been doing them a little differently – and more difficult!! You are a treasure and a wonder! Thank you so much! You have improved my stitching 100%! I am sure that in the grand scale of things some might not consider embroidery as significant…but, if it weren’t for embroidery, the world would just be a smidge duller. I however, find that it calms my nerves, it helps my mind learn new things (which is great to help prevent or slow the aging of our minds), and it creates beauty in my ordinary life. May God bless you always, as you have blessed me! Love you and your work, Collette Koll

  10. Hello..The Portuguese knotted stem stitch is well explained..the video is very clear and the stitch is very beautiful.
    I love hand embroidery.

  11. Wonderful, videos. This is a great review of a stitch I learned in the past but have’t done in a while.

  12. In the first example photo, is the light pink embroidery done in Portuguese knotted stem stitch as well? If not what is the name of that stitch?
    Thank you

  13. I love this stitch! It’s not only beautiful, but, you’re right that it stitches quite quickly. I have one question about this stitch and that is about starting a new thread. Do you start a new thread the same way you start a line? I haven’t been able to figure out how to make it look like a consistent line. I can always see where I start with a new length of thread.

    1. Hi, Patricia – To start a new thread, end the first with the long stitch forward. Then start the new thread and bring it up halfway the length of that last stitch, and work the wraps and then move forward. Hope that helps!

  14. Mary, you are an absolute genius of a teacher. I cannot thank you enough for the lovely journey I have embarked on with embroidery and which is thanks to your wonderful, clear, simple instructions.

    With all my best wishes.

  15. Phenomenally clear (like your other tutorials). I tried to learn this from my encyclopaedia of needlecraft, which is generally great for embroidery stitches but completely misled me in this case. This is also easier than the first online tutorial I tried (possibly because I also used your tutorial for stem stitch), but does give a narrower line. (I think because your version uses what my book calls ‘narrow’ stem stitch, whereas the book and the other tutorial use what it calls ‘wide’ stem stitch.)

  16. Oh THANK YOU Mary. I just couldn’t get the hang of it from the illustration in my book. You are a life saver. xx

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