The double running stitch is also called a Holbein stitch because of a sixteen century painter named Hans Holbein. This stitch makes a regular appearance in the portrait done by this artist. This stitch is also known by different names like Line Stitch, Two-sided Line Stitch, Square Stitch and Spanish Stitch, Roumanian stitch, Chiara stitch.
The stitch is called double running stitch because the basis of this stitch is a running stitch. Running stitch is used two times here. One line of running stitch is done and then in reverse, coming back and filling all the gaps left by the first stitch. The result is an unbroken line of stitch which looks same on the back and the front.
One main characteristic of the holbein stitch is that it is reversible and looks the same on the back and the front. So you can make it on the face of the garment or on the backside, it will look the same. When doing the work you have to ensure that your needle is going over and under the same number of thread in the fabric for an even look.
This stitch is usually done with a single coloured thread.
The geometrical look of this stitch makes it very appealing. This stitch is also the foundation stitch in Blackwork embroidery. You also see a lot of this in Assisi work and cross stitch works as borders
You can make the design on a graph paper for accuracy and copy it onto the fabric using any of the embroidery transfer methods.
How to do the Holbein stitch
Work the running stitch on the design lines first. If it is a straight stitch this works well. if it is not you should plan the design first. The most important thing to remember is to have stitches of the same length. So maintain same stitch length when you make the first running stitch
Now turn around and work back. Make a return journey through the same design lines, making running stitches again on the in between gaps. You should end where you begin. You will get a solid line of stitch which looks like back stitch.
Before you start the embroidery you should plan the pattern you will be making; better to draw the design. It helps if you have a fabric with a visible weave like a linen fabric.
In India, this stitch is known by the name Kasuti stitch. This is a very important stitch found in embroidery design works in the state of Karnataka in India. It is used in Saris and other dressing materials.
Motifs used in Kasuti embroidery include lotus, peacock plumes, birds, flowers. In Kasuti embroidery other than the double running stitch, cross stitch, zig zag stitch and back stitch are used in designs.
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