Also known as: Double running stitch, Line stitch, Two-sided Line stitch, Two-sided Stroke stitch, Square stitch, Chiara stitch
This stitch follows a pattern where a running stitch is done and the gaps between this running stitch are filled during a return journey of the needle and thread. This causes the stitches to bring out identical patterns on either side of the cloth.
Looking at the history of it, Holbein stitch derives its name from Hans Holbein the younger, who was a German artist. He was a portrait painter of the 16th century, who is more known to have painted Henry VIII and his children wearing clothing with ‘blackwork embroidery’.
Holbein stitch is widely used in Blackwork Embroidery and Assissi Embroidery as well. We can widely see it in cross stitch patterns too. This is because Holbein stitch is a form of counted thread stitch.
Blackwork is again commonly known as Spanish work. Catherine of Aragon was the wife of Henry VIII. She is believed to have brought garments into England from Spain and they had black work on them. Blackwork is done using only black thread.
Assissi embroidery originated from Italy at around 13th and 14th century. It is a combination of blackwork, or Holbein stitch and cross stitch. Traditionally Assisi embroidery employed only Holbein stitch, but later, it incorporated varieties of cross stitches as well. Assisi embroidery is not confined to a single thread color but uses different threads.
I have done two variations of the Holbein stitch. This will help understand the technique.
|Fig 1: Lay a base of running stitch.|
|Fig 2: Now, start a return journey with the same working thread. As, shown in this illustration, the return journey of running stitch will fill the gaps made during the first onward journey.
You can use a different colored thread for creative effects.
|Fig 3: A finished line of holbein stitch would look like this.|
|Fig 1:Follow the alphabets to make a step of running stitches along the four stitch lines. Note that all the stitches would be horizontal.||Fig 2: Do a return journey by filling up the gaps left by teh first onward journey of the running stitch. This time all the stitches would be vertical.
You can use a different colored thread fro the return journey for a more creative holbein stitch.
|Fig 3: A finished ‘temple’ design using holbein stitch would look like this.|