Cretan Stitch embroidery

Cretan Stitch

Cretan stitch is a versatile decorative hand embroidery technique with a long history. The method of embroidery of this stitch allows us to have various visual results with slight changes in the spacing of the stitches, the angle of the loops, and the length of the legs of the stitch.

Other names of the stitch

Other names of this hand embroidery technique are the Long-armed Feather stitch, Quill stitch, Alternating Buttonhole stitch, and the Persian stitch.

Cretan stitch embroidery with red pearl cotton
Cretan stitch embroidery with red pearl cotton
Rear side of Cretan stitch embroidery
The rear side of the stitch

Applications of the Cretan Stitch

This hand embroidery stitch is a classical stitch used in crewel embroidery. It is excellent for filling the backgrounds or depicting botanical elements like leaves and vines. The stitch is flexible and can be applied on straight lines and curves. These properties allow using Quill stitch for decorative outlines, borders, and edges.

Besides that, this hand embroidery stitch looks excellent with other stitches. You can create attractive decorative borders by combining Persian stitch with French Knots, Lazy Daisies, or other decorative embroidery stitches.

Variations of the Stitch

Learn how to embroider Cretan Stitch

Follow the step-by-step tutorial with detailed photos below, and you will learn the Cretan Stitch stitch quickly. If you are a visual learner, watch a video lesson in the tutorial or on the Practical Embroidery YouTube channel to learn this hand embroidery stitch faster.

Cretan Stitch

How to embroider Cretan Stitch

Step-by-step hand embroidery tutorial


1. Mark four guiding lines on the fabric. Take the needle up on the second line. Pull all the thread to the front side. Note that you can embroider this stitch in any direction: top-down, from left to right, or right to left.

Persian stitch step 1

2. Make a stitch to the fourth line and one stitch to the right. Leave the loop of the working thread open.

Persian stitch step 2

3. Take the needle up on the third line, inside the loop. Pull the thread and tighten the loop.

Persian stitch step 3

4. Make a stitch to the first line. Leave the loop of the working thread open.

Persian stitch step 4

5. Take the needle up on the second line, inside the loop. Pull the thread and tighten the loop.

Persian stitch step 5

6. Repeat the stitches in this sequence until the entire row is finished.

Persian stitch step 6

Video tutorial

Tools and materials I used for this sampler

Disclaimer. To cover the cost of creating free embroidery patterns and video tutorials for this blog, I do sometimes link to products. Please assume these links are affiliate links. If you choose to buy through my links then THANK YOU – it will make it possible for me to keep doing this.

Embroidery fabric cotton linen neutral colors Etsy
Embroidery fabric
DMC Pearl Cotton #8 thread on Etsy
DMC Pearl Cotton #8
Beechwood embroidery hoops Etsy
Embroidery hoop
Bohin Embroidery Needles Etsy
Bohin Embroidery Needles
Embroidery Scissors Etsy
Embroidery Scissors

What’s next?

If you’re in the mood to explore more hand embroidery stitches, check out the Stitches and Techniques page for the list of other fantastic stitches available on my blog. From timeless classics to modern twists, a whole world of stitches is waiting for you to explore and master. So, grab your hoop and needle, and let’s stitch our way to creative bliss!

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Need More Guidance?

The top 10 hand embroidery stitches to learn is a free online course created for beginners.

White sashiko stitches on purple fabric