Double Running Stitch
Simple, but Very Useful

Double Running Stitch is also known as Holbein, Italian, Square, Stroke, Two-sided Line, Two-sided Stroke stitch, and sometimes as Roumanian Stitch. 

double running stitchDouble Running Stitch

The Double Running Stitch consists of a simple Running stitch worked in two passes over the same line. In the diagram, the thread emerges at A and travels around the outline making running stitches and leaving spaces between, all of equal length. Any offshoots to the outline are also worked on this first journey, making them like a satin stitch.

When the end of the line is reached at B, the needle turns back for its second pass, this time filling in the spaces left on the first pass, making an exactly similar running stitch.

In the diagram, the needle is shown nearing the end of its second pass. The advantage of this stitch is that it looks the same on both sides of the fabric. If both sides of the piece must look alike, care must be taken, especially when working any offshoots to the main embroidery line. These sometimes cause the needle to cross a corner on the wrong side and spoil the outline. 

If both sides are to look alike, Double Running stitch can be worked in squares (often called Holbein Squares) or vandyke lines on open canvas materials. If both sides do not need to be alike, it is either a Satin Stitch or Back Stitch, worked as an outline stitch. 

Double Running Stitch
used in Holbein Squares

To make Holbein Squares with both sides of the work alike: Bring the thread out on the right side of the material, pass it over four perpendicular threads of the canvas, and under the four horizontal right-hand threads, over four perpendicular threads below the horizontal ones, and under four left horizontal ones, bringing out the thread on the same line as the first stitch made, but four threads below it.

Continue these stitches if a long line of squares is required; if only two are wanted, turn back, and fill in the squares thus: Make a stitch upwards over the four perpendicular threads, under the first made stitch, and out where it commenced, over the four horizontal threads on a line with it, under four perpendicular threads, over four horizontal threads on the left, under four perpendicular threads concealed with an already made stitch, across the horizontal threads, under four perpendicular threads in an upward direction, and over the four last threads that require covering.

Two perfect squares on both sides of the material are now made.

To make a Vandyke Line with both sides of the fabric alike: Take the thread over four perpendicular threads, under four horizontal threads to the right, over four perpendicular threads, and under four horizontal threads to the right for the length; return by running up this line over the horizontal threads and under the perpendicular. A waved line is made in the same manner.

A Child's Lesson in Double Running Stitch

Schools taught sewing and embroidery even in a child’s first years of school. To help students around 6 years of age to understand the concept of the running and double running stitch, the following method was used:

Cards were pierced in the shape to be sewed by the teacher or older students. This helps the younger students learn where the needle should go and how far apart the stitches should be.

A circle was used as one of their first projects. The child was told that the circle represented a path and he or she was going to build a fence on it to keep the sheep in. The pupil was then shown how to put the needle down through one hole, which hides the point; he finds the point now on the other side of the card and is told to bring the needle back up through the next hole, pointing it to the ceiling. The explanation was sometimes given in the form of a game of hide and seek. Once the first round of stitches is complete, the teacher would have the pupil take notice that the fence is only partly done. If left this way, the sheep could wonder off, so he/she must go around again to keep the sheep together within the "fence".

Making small stories up like this often helped the child comprehend what the teacher was trying to have the child complete and gave purpose to what they were learning (after all, who wants their sheep wondering all over the place?).

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