Turkey work embroidery stitch

Turkey work

Turkey work is one of the hand embroidery stitches from the knot stitch family that will add a lot of structure and volume to your work. It is fast to learn and adds to your stitch library.

This hand embroidery stitch is hugely versatile and gives you many visual options. To embroider the stitch, you will make small loops. You can cut the loops and trim the stitches short, leave long threads, or even leave the loops. These options will create various looks. Besides that, the choice of the embroidery thread will give you even more options. Choose wool yarns for a trimmed pile like a carpet, six strands of embroidery floss for a more structured fringe, or non-divisible threads like pearl cotton to accentuate each thread.

Other names of the stitch

This hand embroidery stitch has a long history and has various different names. The origins of the stitch are from carpet making, so you will often find this stitch called a Turkey rug knot. Also, the names of the Ghiordes knot, Raya stitch, Fringe stitch, and Turkey stitch are often used interchangeably.

Turkey work embroidery - front side
Turkey work embroidery – front side. Green embroidery floss, grey wool and teal pearl cotton
Turkey work back side
Turkey work – back side
Turkey work embroidery with six strands of green embroidery floss
Turkey work embroidery with six strands of green embroidery floss

Applications of the Turkey work

Turkey work is a versatile hand embroidery stitch with various surface embroidery applications. From large areas filled with a pile of stitches to flower centers, petals, and other botanical elements. From depicting animal furs to recreating the surface structure of household objects, garments, or human hair. From fluffy clouds to soft meadows. 

This hand embroidery stitch is widely used in Stumpwork embroidery and Brazilian embroidery.

More stitches from the knot stitch family

Learn how to embroider Turkey work stitch

Follow the step-by-step tutorial with detailed photos below, and you will learn the Turkey rug knot stitch in no time. 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.

Turkey work embroidery with six strands of green embroidery floss

How to embroider Turkey work stitch

Yield: 1 sampler
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner

Step-by-step tutorial


  • Piece of fabric. Opt for linen or cotton blends.
  • Embroidery floss. You can choose any thread you like. I used embroidery floss, wool and pearl cotton thread.


  • Hoop
  • Embroidery needle
  • Scissors or snips


  1. Take the needle down to the fabric at the left bottom of the shape you want to fill. Do not make a knot nor secure the first stitch. Leave the tail of the thread on the surface. Turkey work Step 1
  2. Bring the needle up a little bit on the left. Make a tiny stitch to the right and take the needle down into the fabric a bit to the ight from the starting stitch. Turkey work Step 2
  3. Pull the thread to the back side of the fabric, but do not close the loop yet. Take the needle up inside the loop. Turkey work Step 3
  4. Pull the thread to close the loop. Pull the needle up and draw the thread through. The first holding stitch is created. Fringe stitch, first holding stitch
  5. Take the needle down to the fabric at a distance of one stitch to the right. Now, instead of the tail, you have a loop. Turkey rug knot stitch in progress
  6. Hold the loop and bring the needle up on the left from the stitch. Make a stitch to the right. Turkey work Step 6
  7. Pull the needle up and draw the thread through. Tighten one more holding stitch. Turkey work Step 7
  8. Repeat the stitches till the row is filled with stitches. One row of Fringe stitch embroidery
  9. Make as many rows as you need to fill the shape. Turkey work stitch with loops
  10. Cut the loops and trim to the same length. Cut the loops of Turkey rug knot stitch
  11. Use a brush to fluff up the surface and remove the cut-off threads. Use the brush to fluff up the surface of the stitch
  12. Use the lint remover or a piece of tape to gather cut-off threads. Use a lint remover to gather cut-off threads

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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