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How To Do The Cretan Stitch In Embroidery

The cretan stitch is a versatile embroidery stitch that can be used for borders or for filling in areas. The stitches can be worked open or closed depending on the effect you would like. When stitched more spaced out, this stitch looks similar to a ladder. When the stitches are made close together, the center line of the stitches forms something that looks kind of a like a braid.

Cretan Stitch Tutorial

This first diagram shows you how to do a basic open cretan stitch.

To keep the stitch from becoming crooked and inconsistent looking, it’s very important to mark the fabric before you get started with some sort of temporary pen or marker!

  • Draw 4 evenly spaced out lines
  • Come up at A and the grab the fabric with your needle from right to left at B and C and pull the thread through.
  • Grab the fabric from left to right at D and E and pull the thread through.
  • Continue alternating all the way down until the shape is filled in.


Closed Cretan Stitch

The stitches can be spaced out as little or as much as you want. To make the area look more solidly filled in (closed cretan stitch), all you have to do is make each stitch directly below the last.

closed cretan stitch

Another thing you can play around with is the space between each of the marked lines. You could mark the fabric so that the space between lines 2 and 3 are wider and the space between lines 1 and 2, 3 and 4 and smaller so the center stitches are more prominent and the “legs” of the stitches are shorter.

Cretan Stitch Leaf

cretan stitch leaf

In order to make a cretan stitch leaf, the stitches will also be close together, but they will fill in the shape of the leaf instead of a rectangular shape. They will also be worked at a slight diagonal. I find it helpful to draw the shape of a leaf and then draw two lines down the middle.

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