What is the Feather Stitch?

Photo of author

By WalterThornton

The feather stitch (also known as the Cretan Stitch) is an embroidery technique that involves looping stitches left and right from a central stem of thread. A chain of open stitches creates an evocative zigzag pattern that resembles a feather. For beginners, the feather stitch is an easy embroidery design. There are many variations of this stitch.

How to embroider a simple feather stitch

This tutorial will show you how to hand embroider a decorative stitch onto your fabric.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a pencil, ruler, cloth, a ruler, embroidery floss, and an embroidering hoop for hand embroidery. To see the thread and needle clearly, work in well-lit areas.
  2. Draw stitch lines. Draw four horizontal lines with a pencil using a ruler. These parallel lines should measure six inches long. These lines should be labeled A, B and C with D at the top and A at the bottom. On your cloth, write the letters in pencil approximately half an inch apart.
  3. Your first stitch is made. Bring the needle through the A line from the back of your fabric. Then, put it down through C. Pull the loop through but don’t close it. Thread the needle through the loop by bringing your needle about a quarter inch to the right of the B line. To create your first V shape, pull tight.
  4. Make a second V. Pass your needle through the D line, at the same place where B was stitched. Make a loop and then pull your needle through C about a quarter of an inch down your line. To create your second V, pull your needle through the loop.
  5. Continue to stitch in this pattern. Your needle should be placed through A in the same place as your C stitch. Leave a loop and then pull your needle through B about a quarter of an inch from your line. Pull the loop through and pull. Continue to work in this manner until you reach the end.
  6. Turn your stitch. Make your final V. Next, insert your needle through the base. This will secure the last stitch. You can then trim the thread at the back and weave the end.

10 Basic Embroidery Stitches

To see what design you would like to add to your fabric, learn basic embroidery stitches.

  1. Chain stitch: A chain stitch is a type of feather stitch that features tightly-looped stitches, which resembles a chain. Chain stitching can be done in either a straight line, or in a curve.
  2. Chevron stitch: A series of large M’s is the chevron stitch. A straight, short stitch is featured at the five M-shaped points.
  3. Closed: Feather stitch
  4. The coral stitch is a small: Tight stitch that has tight knots along a narrow stem. This stitch can be embellished with small, delicate ornaments that look like soft coral plants.
  5. Double feather stitch: A basic stitch that uses a single stem and loops on each side. A double feather stitch allows for the right- or left-of-the stem stitches to be used as the starting point of a new feather stain, creating a more intricate and elaborate design.
  6. Fishbone stitch: This filling stitch can be used to make fish, leaves and feathers as well as flower petal designs. Fishbone stitches can be done top-down by working on the opposite side of a centralline. The final shape is rounded at the base and ends in a point at its top.
  7. Fly stitch: A fly stitches makes a large V shape and the lines that run from left to right of the thread look like fly wings. The intersection of lines looks like a tiny dot or an insect’s body.
  8. Herringbone stitch: This is one of the simplest types of embroidery. It’s a zigzag stitch which looks like a series M’s. Each of the alternating stitch overlaps.
  9. Lazy daisy button: This is a quick and easy way to make small flowers. The lazy daisy stitch has five loops or petals that surround a central point. However, you can add more petals to suit your needs.
  10. Scroll stitch: This stitch is similar to the traditional chain stitch but the loops are not bound tightly, creating a loop the loop pattern.