Monday, April 28, 2014

Wheat-ear stitch

It has been really interesting to read your feedback on the Wheat-ear stitch and I am sorry I haven't managed to get the how-to up for you on as quickly as I had promised.

When I looked back at the projects I have used this stitch in, I quickly realised two things; 1) I really haven't used wheat-ear stitch very much at all and 2) when I have, it seems I tend to always stitch neat even rows. Wheat-ear stitch is one of those curious stitches that can change dramatically in appearance depending on the stitch size and the thread you are using. My plan (A) was to 'whip up' just a few quick samples, trying a couple of variations with this stitch.

I haven't managed to do that, so I thought I would opt for plan B: find some great images of wheat-ear stitch online and link to other places where you can see it used...

'Wheatear Field of Wheat' by Thrifty Finn
This one from Thrifty Finn was one of the first I found - it is a fabulous example how the stitch got its name - sweet isn't it?
That is it, really. Other then pictures of wheat-ear stitch used to embellish crazy patchwork seams, I haven't managed to find any other examples. It is quite possible that there are plenty of designs where the stitch is used, and lets face it, when you upload an image most people probably don't tag it with the stitches used. The other possibility is that the stitch isn't used very often at all - because, as many of you noted in the comments, we don't really know when and where the stitch can be used. My suggestion is to try it whenever you would readily opt for an open row of fly stitch or feather stitch and see what happens...

There are plenty of stitch tutorials online but this is how you do it:

1. Start with a stitch at the top of your line. You can vary the length of this stitch, depending on how you wish the top of your line to look - or place two stitches in a V shape.
Next, bring the thread to the front a little further along the line - this will determine the length of the chain part of the stitch.
Slide your needle under the stitch without piercing the fabric.
2. Take the needle to the back through the same hole as the emerging thread.
3. Bring the thread to the front a short distance from the chain stitch, near the top and take it to the back through the same hole at the base - this is the first 'ear'.
Repeat to the opposite side.
Many books will show this part done from the base to the tip, but I find it neater to always take the needle to back through a shared hole rather than trying to bring it to the front without splitting existing stitches.

4. Emerge below the first chain and ears as before. Slide the needle under the first chain and ears. I use the eye-end of the needle for this part to avoid splitting the existing stitches.
5. Take the needle to the back through the same hole at the base.
6. Stitch the next set of 'ears' - For an even line, you need to try and keep this parallel to the first stitch.

7. Complete the second stitch as before.
That's it - pretty simple. To fill shapes you can simply vary the length and angle of the 'ears' to follow the outline.
I hope you find a good use for wheat-ear stitch some day - it really is rather decorative. I am quite sure I will use it more than I have been in the past.

If you don't have the stitch in any of your books and want at printed copy, I have put a downloadable PDF here, which you are welcome to print.

Happy Stitching.


  1. Thanks for the PDF file, it was kind of you to go to the effort of making it up for us.

  2. Thank you for the PDF, this is a new stitch for me, looking forward to trying it out.

  3. thanks for the how-to. I never would have thought of using wheat-ear stitch in this way.

  4. These stitches are extremely decorative.