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Sunday, October 5, 2008

How-to: spaced Ceylon stitch

One of the main stitches I'm using on the Tudor-Style Purse is a spaced Ceylon stitch. Basic single Ceylon stitch looks like a chain stitch but with the threads crossed at the pointed end of each stitch instead of being in the same hole. It is worked the opposite way of a chain stitch, too, with each stitch looping under the previous stitch.

The spaced version (my terminology) of Ceylon stitch is done with two of these loops spaced some distance apart. You can start with two straight stitches separated by a gap and loop the first Ceylon stitches through these. (My apologies for not getting a photo of this!)

Each subsequent stitch is worked into the previous stitches. If you're working the stitch toward yourself, bring the needle through the fabric on the left side, a little bit away from the previous stitch. Insert the needle under both legs of the left loop of the preceding stitch, and pull the thread through.

Repeat this on the right side loop of the previous stitch, and pull the thread toward yourself. The tension is a bit tricky. You don't want sloppy loops, but you also don't want the loops pulled so tightly that you won't be able to work the next stitch. Sink the needle into the fabric on the right side, and come up again on the left for the next stitch.

The Plimoth Plantation is using this stitch on their 17th century embroidered jacket. For more details on the stitch, they have a much more detailed tutorial (in PDF format) written by Tricia Wilson Nguyen. I'm guessing it is easier in the silk thread used there than in the metallic I'm using!

Edited to add: Megan a.k.a. Elmsley Rose, who's working an Elizabethan sampler (and just mentioned Ceylon stitch in her post yesterday - though I didn't know it until just now!) asked about the difference between Ceylon stitch and ladder stitch. Since ladder stitch was unfamiliar to me, I looked it up. I found that Mary Corbet has a great video on ladder stitch. It looks the same as this spaced Ceylon stitch, with a couple of minor exceptions: it starts out differently, and the stitches on the back are straight across, whereas mine slant slightly down to the next stitch. I try to make the start and end of each stitch straight across on the front. The difference in this case is likely only the preference of the stitcher.

The other difference is the name "Ceylon stitch" actually encompasses more than just this spaced version. As I mentioned above, it can look like a single chain stitch, or several can be done next to each other. The latter is a bit like detached buttonhole but worked into the stitches of the previous row rather than between the stitches of that row. Thanks for asking!


Elmsley Rose said...

Thankyou! This is perfect timing for me!

I know about the Plymouth PDF, but every extra photo and tip helps!

Elmsley Rose said...

I'm wondering about the relationship between this and ladder stitch?

Cyn said...

Hi Jeanne,

Thanks for sharing the stitch.

How about a bigger picture of the purse so we can see how the stitch relates to the rest of the purse? :-)

Windy Meadow

Elmsley Rose said...

Aha - just popped to your blog after your latest comment to mine, and saw this edit re me and Ladder/Ceylon stitch *grin*

I was going to ask, very nicely, if it were at all possible if you could explain how to do semi detached work step by step. I've read several explanations (none of which are step by step) and I just don't understand!

I'd really appreciate it!