Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (76) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

5 Braid-Like Embroidery Stitches for Textured, Bold Lines


Amazon Books

Sometimes, there’s nothing better on a piece of embroidery than a bold, textured line!

A bold line draws the eye, and texture keeps the eye glued. Often, in embroidery, you want the eye drawn to a specific area. And once it’s drawn there, the texture of a nice, chunky braid-like line can engross the viewer.

Braid-like lines – bold or delicate – can be used effectively in hand embroidery in a number of ways. They make great outlines, they’re terrific for stems and tendrils, they can stand on their own for lettering. On samplers and such, they add texture and interest. So it’s always good to have a nice arsenal of braid-like line stitches in your stitching repertoire.

Here are my five favorites, with links to tutorials so that you can try them on your own stitching projects!

Embroidery Stitches, Braided, for texture and bold lines

5 Tutorials for Braid-Like Line Stitches

If you’re hankering to try adding some bold textured lines to your embroidery, try these stitches! They’re fun!

Incidentally, if you’re engaged in the “Year of Stitches” challenge that I mentioned in this article, these additions to your stitch year would not go amiss!

1. Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch – this is the stitch in the top left of the photo above, in purple. It’s an easy stitch to learn (it’s a combination of twisted chain and feather stitch), it works up with a nice rhythm, and it looks great in compact form!

You’ll find the video tutorial for Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch here. And here’s the Stitch Fun! article that shows you how to make the stitch compact, so that it looks braided. You might also find this article on starting a new thread with Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch useful.

2. Plaited Braid Stitch – this is the stitch in the top right corner of the photo above.

It’s a slightly more complex stitch, but my how-to video for plaited braid stitch will walk you through all the steps. You might also find this instruction guide for plaited braid stitch invaluable for conquering the stitch. It has several practice projects in it and a lot of trouble-shooting tips.

Plaited Braid Stitch is an excellent stitch to master, and once you have it, it’s yours! Once you get the stitch down, you’ll realize it only looks complicated.

3. Cable Plait Stitch (or Braid Stitch) – shown in the lower left corner of the photo above, Cable Plait Stitch (also called simply “braid stitch”) is an easy stitch to learn. It works great on more delicate, narrower lines. You can find my how-to video for Cable Plait Stitch here.

4. Interlaced Chain Stitch – this is the stitch in the lower right in the photo above. It’s braid-like look depends more on color choices than anything else. If you use contrasting colors to create the line, the stitch might not look like a cohesive braid, but it certainly produces a nice, textured, interwoven line!

You can find a step-by-step tutorial for interlaced chain stitch here.

5. Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch – Easy and fun, Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch works up quickly and makes a beautiful, compact braided chain stitch.

Here’s my how-to video for Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch, and here’s a little “stitch glitch” article that discusses joining Hungarian Braided Chain in a circle. You can also see this stitch effectively used in this Redwork Runner project.

Other Stitches to Consider

When you’re looking for braided line stitches, there are many stitches you can consider! The ones above are my five favorites, but you might also take a look at these:

Raised chain stitch: it creates a braid-like raised band

Heavy chain stitch: it can be used to create very delicate braid-like lines, depending on the weight of your thread

Raised buttonhole stitch: though it doesn’t braid together, it can look like a very textured, interwoven band

Chinese knot stitch: when worked in a compact line, it can look somewhat interwoven and textured

Basket stitch: it creates a braided looking, flatter line, and can be used effectively for filling

Ladder stitch: if you work the sides of the ladder close together (with narrow rungs), it creates a kind of connected, double braided line. (Sorry about the old video on that one – wow! Ancient!)

What About You?

What’s your favorite stitch for creating bold, braid-like lines? Feel free to chime in below, to help other folks who are looking for stitch ideas!

Like What You See?

If you like what you see on Needle ’n Thread, if you want to help keep the website thriving and free of annoying network advertising, why not become a patron on Patreon? Check out my Patreon page here, where I’ll occasionally add special needlework bonuses for patrons.

If you shop on Amazon, you can support Needle ’n Thread without any extra expense to you by visiting my Amazon Recommendations page here, where you’ll find books and sundries for the needleworker available on Amazon.


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(19) Comments

  1. Ive never seen these interesting
    bold line stitches. I will watch the
    tutorials and learn them.
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Jan A

  2. I am glad to see you included directions for started a new thread I your first set of directions. That’s something I struggle with, even with simpler stitches. Could there be a post discussing this in the future?

  3. Happy Wednesday too! Lovely collection of stitches Mary, thank you. I tend to steer clear of these types of stitch because I still have trouble getting my stitches a nice even length 🙁 I tried measuring and marking the lines but then have trouble with the curves. Has anyone found a solution, and did it help to get future stitches more even?

    1. Gill, if you mean measuring the width of the stitches, for the plaited braid stitch ,I sew the design with a wide double needle on my sewing machine, using a big basting stitch. You can navigate curves and corners, always evenly spaced.

  4. What a timely article. These stitches will be perfect for a long-term project I’m working on repurposed jeans using Lorraines-Colourcompliments threads (Love them!).

    I love the plated braid stitch even though it’s a thread hog. The instruction guide is the only way to go. Your illustrations and written instructions make it simple. I don’t think I could ever just sit down and start stitching it without your guide open and ready for reference. Well worth the price of admission I think.

    Are you planning on doing any more in the Stitch Fun Series this year? Think they’re great!

    Thanks for all you do!

  5. It isn’t as wide and the ones you have listed, but comparable to heavy chain – but I love doing the Portuguese Stem Stitch.

  6. I love the braided stitches, particularly the plaited braid stitch. Your instructional video was easy to follow. I found a quick way to mark the parallel lines for spacing….. double needles in the sewing machine. Just sew with contrasting color and big stitch, for the basting.
    Thanks for all the great stitches!

  7. Mary, your site inspires me! I’ve begin stitching for 46 years, but I’ve never learned beyond the likes of The Samplar Workes, Indigo Rose, Rosewood Manor, Scarlet Letter. I love drawn/pulled thread, too.

    The beauty of the stitches you illustrate on a daily basis are amazing. Your emails are something I look for everyday. I have found a new passion!

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.

  8. These are my favorites! I love the sinewy look that they produce on cloth, along with the raised, prominent presence. I had purchased your book “Plaited Braid” and yet to have had time to practice it! I plan to start, though, this spring as I plan to use the stitch for my shop wares and customer orders. I will be buying “Favorite Monograms” too, to use for soutaching! Thanks Mary!

  9. I tend to use closely spaced herringbone when I want a broad line. Thank you for the reminder that there are lots of other interesting stitches out there to try.

  10. I loved the braided stitches. They look very fancy. As a beginner, I so appreciate your newsletters
    ! Thank you for helping me on my journey!
    Robin F

  11. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for this. I think you were reading my mind. I was just looking for something like this at the weekend. Why is it that most stitch directories don’t seem to have these and also individual stitches that can be combined with other stitches to create interesting effects.
    Thanks again,
    Cheers Judy
    SE Queensland, Australia

  12. Thanks for putting such great tutorial links all in one place. My go to for textured lines is to put lines of stitching next to each other. Sometimes just rows of chain stitch, sometimes coral or scroll stitch next to the chain.

  13. Those are wonderful stitches. I wonder how you keep the floss looking so evenly twisted as you stitch this direction and that. The photos show the threads so nicely wound. In cross stitch the floss can become tightly twisted and not appear as thick and fluffy. That means poor coverage. Do you watch your threads closely and twist your needle now and then to keep the thread from kinking?

  14. Oh, this is timely! My current work project is an underwater scene. A seahorse is the centerpiece, but there are some tall waving green fronds. I will have to play with these stitches to see which one will look best. Thanks, Mary!

  15. My absolute favourite of the moment is Parma braid stitch. A wonderfully raised, sculptural stitch specially developed in the 1920s for embroidery based on designs taken from the architectural decoration in Parma cathedral and baptistry.

    It really stands proud of the fabric and is great on curves.

  16. Good morning Mary,
    I have to say that one is never too old to do something new.
    The first time I saw your newsletter about braid like embroidery, I happened to be reading about the antique caskets.
    Instead of buying at a very steep cost the commercial braid, I thought I would stitch a braid like edge around my smaller embroideries that would be framed or used to cover small give away boxes. It came up a treat. I added beads and gold thread to vamp them up. Sewing an edging is not as bulky as applying commercial braid. The embroidered edge just gives that little extra to a small piece.

    So, thanks for your wonderful little snippets you give out each newsletter. This old dog has learnt a new trick. MM

More Comments