Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Friday, June 29, 2012

Examing the Queen Stitch

You will mostly all remember that when I began working on my American Sampler, I was completely terrified of the Queen Stitch.  I actually said if I messed them up again (as I have always done in the past) I was going to convert all the Queens to crosses.  I was even more intimidated when I saw Valerie's (Shenandoah Sampler) Queens.  They were perfect.  Sigh!  When it came time to bite the bullet and do them, I didn't look at a single one of my reference books.  I'd done that in the past and it had not worked out well.  And then, amazingly (really REALLY amazingly) I did them - and they came out (well not) perfect, but very nicely.  And a few of you have asked how I did that.

So, here I am going to examine the Queen Stitch in detail.  My Queen stitch.  I'm not saying this is HOW TO DO THE QUEEN STITCH (imagine voice of God) but this is how I did the Queen Stitch and it's been workin' for me. 

I have consulted my two most liked reference books for stitching - The Red Book of Sampler Stitches, Eileen J. Bennett, The Sampler House, 2003, p. 46-47 and Encyclopedia of Needlework, Donna Kooler, Leisure Arts Publications, 2000, p. 71.  I like these books because the 1st seems to be very knowledgeable and the second is knowledgeable and has great pictures.  For some of this stuff, you're just going to have to suffer through some of my hand-drawn directions below.

"Red Book" diagrams you start at the far right and work your way left overall.  The first two vertical stitches are held in place by horizontal stitches that go from far right to left.  Two verticals are done to the middle then the next two are worked from the middle to the left and this time the horizontal stitches are worked from the left toward center.  See drawing with numbers:

"Encyclopedia" also works from the right to the left, but each horizontal stitch is worked from left to right across - no switching in the middle.  It also seems to indicate that overall, you would start stitching your Queen stitch area in the left and work, filling the area to the right.  See drawing with numbers:


That's not what I did.  And maybe, just maybe, that's why they finally worked for me?

Queen Stitch, with Exceptions
First of all, I looked at where I wanted to go within the Queen stitch area.

Here in this first picture, you can see that I have another quadrant to complete.  We'll call these quadrants, NW, NE, SE and SW.  I need to stitch the SW quad.  I want to go toward the NE quad and then work my way back so I'm not traveling beneath and I don't constantly have to flip and hide my thread.  I have four Queen stitches that need to be done.  So, I want to stitch from the left side of the first Queen to the right.  I'm going to MIRROR the stitching in the diagram of the way I stitch.  I come up at 1 (the top of the entire stitch) and down at 2 (the bottom of the entire stitch).  Now, there are four holes across that I'll be working in.  For this example, they're hole 1, 2, 3 and 4 from left to right.  I want my first horizontal stitch to come up in hole 2 and go down in hole 1.  This way, I'm pulling the vertical thread where I want it to be instead of pushing it.  When you come up to do the horizontal stitch, don't pull the thread taut or it will be more difficult to place the stitch.  I just want to have a loop there that I can hook and I can snug things up a bit more as I finalize the stitch.

I come up and hook the vertical thread and swing over to go down in hole number 1

The first vertical set of four is complete.  I make the next vertical stitch only when I come up to do the horizontal stitch, I come up in hole 2 where I started the previous horizontal stitch.  That's because I can see where I've stitched better than I can see the linen.  The needle goes down in the center hole, two threads down from where the vertical stitches are starting from.  Sometimes I need to just nudge the thread over to the left or right so I can see where the horizontal thread came up to make sure I go over one thread of the linen and put the needle down.  On to the third vertical stitch - I do it the same way as the 2nd and for the same reason, I can see where I stitched and I can nudge the stitching thread over a bit to make sure I'm going down one thread of linen over.  When it comes to the 4th vertical stitch I complete the horizontal stitch by coming up on the inside and again, pulling the vertical thread to the outside to secure it where it is supposed to be.

Above you can see the completed Queen stitch.  I want to start the next one, moving toward the NE quad.  Where I ended the last Queen is going to be the bottom of this new Queen so I go up to the top and come down to the bottom to do my first vertical stitch.  Then go from the beginning again. 

Here is the second Queen completed.  Note that now the far right horizontal stitch is the top of the next Queen.  That's also where I stitched down on that one, so logically, I can't come up in the same place I just went down because that will pull the stitch out.  So I go to the bottom and create the first vertical stitch of the new Queen by going up.

Now all four "stitches' are done. 

All I did was basically stitch in a circle.  Truth to tell, I had to do these four the way I did because I'd come to the end of my thread and had to start a new piece.  Mostly when I'm stitching the Queens, I find it easiest to just do them in a row.  Once you get one Queen down and done right, she's sort of the guidepost for doing all the rest. 

I hope that I haven't made this as clear as mud.  The thing that I say you should keep in mind is where you are in the Queen area and where you want to go.  I'd let that guide me as to whether I start on the left or right.  I also found it most helpful to secure the two outermost vertical stitches by working their horizontal stitches from the inside out.  Some people may feel more comfortable securing those two outside stitches and then filling in the middle.

I say "stitches" because each Queen actually consists of  8 stitches.  I actually counted and there are a total of 1,378 Queen stitches in the American Sampler.  And, that's not counting the half Queens that help to shape each flower.  So, that's 11,024 stitches, by my count - plus!  The flower I'm working on here has 120 Queens all on it's own.   Oh, and just in case you didn't know, the Queen stitch is also called the Rococo stitch.  I much prefer "Queen". 

Please be sure to let me know whether I did this well or not.  If I helped you all, I'm really glad.  Otherwise, hope you enjoyed.


  1. Thanks for the explanation. You made it very clear how to do them and yours look quite good. Most of the time, working specialty stitches, I've found that guidelines are great, but you have to find what works best for you. Good luck with all your queens:-)

    1. Dulcinella - you are so right! Thanks for the feedback. - K

  2. I love the look of Queen stitches, but I hate doing them, next time I'm faced with some I'm going to give your instructions a go

  3. I appreciate the reassurance that you can find your own way to complete these stitches. I recently decided to do it "my way" and am having a much better result. Your blog helped give me confidence that what I was doing is OK. Thanks! :)

    1. Kristina; that's great! I am so glad I could help you in that small way. Have fun with your project, after all that's what it's all about. All the best.


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