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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Cretan Stitch Video Tutorial


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The cretan stitch is used in hand embroidery to create bands, to fill (any shape – leaves, for example), and it can be worked closed or open, depending on the effect you want.

In this video tutorial for the cretan stitch, I’m working a closed band, vertically from top to bottom. You’ll notice at the end of the video that the band forms a wide, almost-filled strip with a braid-like pattern down the middle of it.

Experiment with the cretan stitch for a different look, especially in creating fillings or decorative edges (for example, in crazy quilting). You can see the cretan stitch used in my “sampler” book cover here. It’s the brighter green, upside-down “V” area towards the base of the first photo.

Here’s the video. It’s one of the more ancient ones here on Needle ‘n Thread, but I have high hopes of updating it one of these days!

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For more video tutorials for hand embroidery, please visit my collection of how-to videos for hand embroidery.

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(18) Comments

  1. There is no way I could have learned to do any embroidery at all without these videos…i have gone from a very very beginner to a high intermediate embrioderer so quickly and these videos have helped me so much. I never would have figured this stuff out from pictures in books!

  2. It still startles me at how easy you make these very complicated stitches look!

    Here, you have taken something I thought to be difficult, that I would torture and never be able to execute, and made it easy for me. This one is relegated to my brain as a stitched four braid (modified). Now I have something to relate the stitch to! All because you take the time to show us! Your mission is successful!

  3. Thank you for this excellent video. I tried switching to the stab method for the alternating or “other side” of the stitch, but it seems to work out better if I rotate the work so I can more easily do the sewing method on that side. Do you ever rotate the work, or have you been able to do the sewing method backwards with your non-dominant hand? This is a problem I have not seen addressed in cretan stitch instructions. Thank you for a great blog!

    1. Hi, Lisa – I generally rotate my work if the piece is small, or hand held in a hoop. If it’s on a larger frame that I’m using a stand with, I change the placement of the thread, depending on the direction in which I am stitching. Hope that helps! ~MC

  4. I have recently discovered your blog, and have been reading my way through from the very first post! I’ve been cross stitching on and off since teaching myself about 20 years ago. With some work related inspiration, and of course this blog, I have begun teaching myself a larger variety of basic embroidery stitches. Here I am on the train to work, teaching myself Cretan stitch! Your video is very easy to follow, as are your blog posts a pleasure to read. Thank you, and please keep up the amazing work!

    1. Thanks, Melissa! I’m so glad you find Needle n Thread useful! And I love the fact that you can stitch on the way to work – that’s great! -MC

  5. All of these tutorials are really top notch. I am on a mission to complete every single video, label each stitch and put it in a binder with my sketches (I’m a fashion designer.) So far I have done 8, I have a long way to go!!! Thank you for doing these videos! You are a gem!

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