Understanding the Herringbone Stitch on the St. Birgitta’s Coif

I’ve made a lot of basic St. Birgitta style caps without the embroidered band on the center seam of the cap, but finally decided to sit down and figure out the embroidered band recently. I have not been able to find a good image of the embroidery on the original cap and I’ve seen a few different interpretations so I selected one to try. The original linen cap is two halves joined with an interlaced double herringbone stitch similar to a modern faggoted seam, from the front edge to about 2 inches above the bottom edge.

A couple of few weeks ago I taught a class on how to do the stitch at a local event and I would add that if you want to do a trial run of the stitch on a short piece of fabric using multiple colored threads definitely helps the stitches to be more visible.

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Using the Herringbone stitch to join the two panels.

  1. Mark a ½” wide strip on a 2” wide strip of fabric that is the length of the back seam of your cap.

2. Evenly pin and then baste the two sides of the cap to the band so that the inside edges just meet the ½” mark.

3. Make a cross mark every ¼” from the front of the seam to 3” before the end of the seam.
-I marked ½” increments and then estimated the halfway point, save yourself the second guessing and just mark the ¼”.

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4. Pin basted cap to a sewing ham or other item to stabilize the center strip.

5. Sew the first half of the herringbone stitch in a figure 8 pattern so that each stitch is ¼” apart, but ½” apart on each side, this is why you want to mark the stitches 1/4″ apart.

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  1. I used this tutorial to get started on the stitch itself.
    Initial Herringbone Stitch:
    http://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/stitch/herringbone-stitch/herringbone-stitch/
  2. Double Herringbone Stitch:
    http://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/stitch/herringbone-stitch/double-herringbone-stitch/
  3. Interlacing the Double Herringbone Stitch:
    http://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/stitch/herringbone-stitch/interlaced-herringbone-stitch/

6. Keep thread snug but do not pull tight. You do not want the fabric to pucker as you are sewing.

7. Once the first half of the herringbone stitch is finished you’ll want to start the second half using the same process. When you start your second side make sure that you weave in and out of the first set of stitches in an over-under pattern. If your first stitch goes over the crossing thread then the second stitch should go under the crossing thread.

8. When you are finished with the second half of the herringbone stitch do a swing or bar tack across the bottom, this will help prevent the stitch line from pulling or puckering.

Swing or Bar Tack

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Now start your interlacing stitch from the front edge. One thing I found important when teaching this is the threads have to be laced through each other in an over under pattern. The threads will catch on the “X”s if this is done and create the nice loopy design.

10. Once you have finished your interlacing stitch remove the basting stitches on the center strip and then you can finish your St. Birgitta cap starting with Step 7 in the regular instructions.

Have fun sewing!! 🙂

 

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