Snuggling down with some stitching

Brrrrr ….. after our trip to the Bath Christmas Market last week the weather has turned increasingly cold and so it’s been lovely to snuggle down in front of the log burner and enjoy some cosy stitching before the festive rush really gets going.  This week I’ve been remembering a stitch my grandma taught me that I haven’t used for a very long time.  She called it basketweave stitch, though it is probably more accurately referred to as surface darning stitch.

Mary Thomas Dictionary

With the help of two French Hens (I have been trying out a new camera and they had been acting as models!) I looked up basketweave stitch in my trusty Mary Thomas Dictionary but couldn’t find it at all. Then I tried searching online for surface darning techniques and found a lovely blog post by Hannah Lamb.

And yes, Hannah describes exactly the stitch my grandma taught me.  But I think I’m going to continue calling it basketweave stitch which I think sounds much nicer – and it is a lovely stitch.  Inspired by the quirky illustrations in my (inherited) 1950s edition of Mary Thomas …

Back Stitch

I decided to try out basketweave stitch on a simply drawn little bear.  He was to be stitched in black on a white background and have a lovely patchwork basketweave jumper.  I marked out the squares for my basketweave stitch ready to sew …

Bear not stitched

And then as I stitched I considered the other stitches I could work into the design.  Back stitch, blanket (or buttonhole) stitch and, instead of French knots, bullion knots.  Hmm … I thought – bit of a theme developing – so I expanded my design a little ….

B is for stitching Bear

And this is how my little Stitching Bear looks right now!  I’m really enjoying basketweave stitch, it has a lovely textured finish and is very economical to sew as, unlike satin stitch, you don’t need to return to a point adjacent to where your needle emerged for the next stitch, but can instead make tiny stitches on the reverse.  I will be including my little bear, with lots of images as a special hand embroidery tutorial in the January Magazine in addition to the usual six patterns.  He’s not a beginners project as though basketweave stitch isn’t hard in itself, it is quite fiddly and needs a lot of concentration.  The text is worked in a single strand of floss and also demands a lot of attention, but sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself – at least that’s what my grandma used to say when I struggled with this stitch as a youngster – a very long time ago!!


I love him Helen. Can’t wait to see him completed.
Do you use interfacing behind your designs?
Do you draw the design on the interfacing?


Thanks Jo – no I’m using Sulky Sticky Fabri Solvy which is a printable soluble stabiliser.


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