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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Stitch Fun! Playing with Braids & Chains


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A couple weeks ago in a Stitch Fun article, we looked at how you can alter the look of a basic stitch by either lacing it with another thread or whipping it with another thread and I showed you a little sampler of different ways you can whip and lace stitches.

Today, let’s play around with some chain and braid stitches!

Laced and Whipped Embroidery Stitches

The top line of stitches here is the whipped chain stitch.

Why whip a chain stitch? Good question! The whipped chain stitch forms a much heavier, bolder ropey line, compared to whipped backstitch or whipped running stitch. The line sits up fat and round on the fabric. The chain loops on the chain stitch line are squeezed shut a bit, but you can still see them, and they add a little touch of texture to the line.

Laced and Whipped Embroidery Stitches

The second line of stitches here is also whipped chain stitch, but instead of whipping around the whole chain stitch line, I whipped around one side of each chain stitch in one direction, and then came back along the line and whipped the other side of the chain stitches.

You can vary the finished look of this variation of whipped chain stitch by changing the direction from which you pass under the chain stitches.

Laced and Whipped Embroidery Stitches

Here’s the same technique in the dark red and dark blue chain stitch. This time, I whipped both sides from the center out. I started whipping the stitch at the same end of the line of chain stitches, and whipped from the center out to the end of the line, then moved back to the beginning of the line, and whipped from the center out on the other side of the chain stitch.

Laced and Whipped Embroidery Stitches

This is a fun technique – it’s a great way to embroider a fine braid-like line in alternating colors without having to use two threads at once, like you do with the checkered chain stitch.

Laced and Whipped Embroidery Stitches

You can whip practically any braided and chain-like stitch, in one way or another. Above, you can see the Hungarian braided chain stitch in orange, with one side whipped in yellow. Whipping a braid-type stitch adds a nice finish on one side of the braid or both sides of the braid.

Besides adding an “outline” color, it raises and tightens the edge of the braid just slightly, too.

Whipped Plaited Braid Stitch

In the photo above, I’ve whipped the edges of the plaited braid stitch, to create a very bold line with rope-like edges. I love this combination! I’m playing with it right now on a little knotwork design, which I’ll show you in a few days.

You don’t often see plaited braid stitch added to in any way, because it’s already a fairly dense, somewhat complex stitch. But whipping the edges of the braid looks pretty neat, and it’s fun!

If you have trouble conquering the plaited braid stitch, try my Stitch Printable for Plaited Braid Stitch – you’ll be a pro at it in no time flat!

Mind Your Needle

When whipping or lacing stitches, don’t forget to switch to a tapestry needle! The blunt tip won’t snag the stitches, making it much easier to pass under them quickly.

Why not try your hand at different combinations of whipped and laced stitches, to add some extra color or extra interest to your embroidery projects and samplers? Whipping and lacing stitches is a quick and easy way to add just a touch of something different to the standard stitch repertoire.

And doggonit, it’s just fun to do!

Stitch Fun is a series of tutorials here on Needle ‘n Thread that explores different embroidery stitches and what we can do with them. If you’d like to take a look at the other tutorials in the series, feel free to visit the Stitch Fun index!


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(14) Comments

  1. G’day Mary,
    I loved the multi coloured chain as a kid. Thought I was so clever but had no idea of colour so all these crazy pincushions I made for Mum were rather gaudy. The weidest doubled coloured chain stitched snails, bees, apples, birds and ‘To MUM’ adorned them. Taught myself from old Arthur Mee’s encyclopaedia’s craft sections.
    Love these braids and the sophisticated edge the whipping/lacing gives them. Very effective and snazzy.

  2. Dear Mary,

    Oohs, aahs. My months & months feed/flour/seed bag embroidery project got a boost when I discovered your site. The decorative images have been fun to do but the–I confess–lettering and borders were uninspiring and left to last or remained undone. Now I am learning braids and chains, and whipped and woven stitches and they make the borders and words fun and challenging.

    Thank you.

  3. Hello mary,

    Thank you for today’s lesson. I never knew that a stitch can be whipped or laced until i saw your stitch fun series. It lovely and thank you for the lesson.

  4. Dear Mary

    Another tantalizing display of wonderful stitches, I love stitch fun, I love the different styles/colours of the whipped chain stitch equally the whipped braid stitches are so pretty. Thats the beauty of needlework you can change the look of a stitch by adding different stitch techniques which enhance the embroidery.


    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. Hi Mary. How do you keep your needles organized? I am concerned that if I store them all together I’ll grab a sharp instead of a tapestry. Or do you just poje yourself to make sure you picked up the right one?

    1. Hi, Sunny – well, the needles I use most often, I keep in a pin cushion on my work table. I can generally tell the difference between a tapestry needle and others at a glance, but if I’m unsure, yes, I’ll poke myself with the tip. 🙂 but normally a tapestry needle is usually pretty evident. It has a long eye, and the tip is visibly rounded. -MC

  6. Thank you Mary 🙂
    I like the idea of whipping instead of making alternated version…
    Oh, it occurred to me!.. these bulky braid stitches… I still haven’t tried them… I prefer to study it all in theory (reading your posts) before actually practicing it some day, when a project really calls for them… So just now I thought there’s something that I still don’t know… See, you have mentioned they are thread hog stitches (another reason to stick to simpler ones :o) ) it means one has to change thread every so often. Is the proper ending and resuming of the stitch covered somewhere in your older posts? 🙂 I think tips on that are pretty important. Thank you 🙂

  7. Hi Mary, It is 3am and I can’t sleep! How thrilled I am to have just discovered your site. I don’t think I will be going back to sleep. Too much lovely stitching to look at and learn about. Many thanks. I look forward to the Newsletters. Happy day, Gaye

    1. Oh, My goodness – Good morning, Gaye! Glad you enjoy Needle ‘n Thread! I’m not going anywhere too soon, so do feel free to get some sleep! 🙂

  8. I teach quilting and embroidery classes locally and have been asked to teach a series of embroidery stitches. I would like to use the information on your website as a guideline for what I teach–you have the best explanations and photos and such a variety of stitches. My plan would be to refer students to your site after I teach a stitch so they can follow up for a refresher if needed after they get home. I would not print and distribute any of your material but would encourage students to support your site by purchasing their own copies. I imagine other teachers have approached you with a similar plan. I want to be sure this is okay with you before I proceed further with planning the classes. Do I have your permission to go ahead with this plan?

    1. Hi, Linda – Thanks for your question! You are always most welcome to refer folks to my website for tips and instructions! Thank you – I appreciate the referrals! 🙂

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