Herringbone stitch is a crossed stitch variation that vaguely resembles the spine and ribs of a herring. In hand and couture plain sewing, it is often called the “catch stitch” and used for hems and finishing seam allowances.
In embroidery, you will often see herringbone stitch worked as a counted stitch, because it’s easier to get your stitches exactly the same size that way. But it can be very versatile. Stitches can be made tall and thin, short and wide, or any variation in between. When stitched very tall with very small stitches that create a solid line, it can be stitched from the BACK of a fine, thin fabric like voile so that the threads show through the front, dulling the colors and creating a shadow effect. (Strangely enough, this technique is called “shadow embroidery,” and it’s an easy way to create a delicate, fancy piece of work.)
This is a stitch that benefits greatly from experimentation. See what you can do with it. Line rows of it exactly above of each other to create a trellis-like effect. Stitch multiple colors of thread one row directly on top of the next, with stitches offset just slightly to create a raised, multicolored band. There is a Victorian variation that stitches multiple colors on top of one another this way and then cuts them through the middle to create a velvet-like pile. Variation. It’s where creativity lives. PLAY!
Get an inexpensive piece of fabric that you can call your “scratch cloth” or your “doodle cloth” and experiment with stitches. No one has to see it but you. Try things out. Decide what you like and what you think the stitches are best for in your work. Most of all… have fun!
Would you like to stitch the design in the Featured Image for this post? This funny little sea creature was a complimentary download from the blog. Go to the related post and download him now!