The Basketweave Stitch

Basketweave stitch diagram

The Basketweave Stitch

This is another variation of a half-cross stitch. It also differs from a half-cross and the continental in how it’s worked. The basketweave stitch gives you a smooth, consistent diagonal stitch with a woven look on the backside. It’s very stable and minimizes the distortion of your finished piece.

Rather than vertical or horizontal rows of stitches, these actually run in a diagonal direction. This helps to avoid an up or down striped texture which I find distracting to the overall design. The basketweave stitch is ideal for filling in larger motifs and background areas. With all of the design elements in place you simply fill in - no additional counting needed!

In these illustrations I’m using plastic canvas, yarn and a large needle. It’s much easier to see for demonstration purposes - but I will reference ‘gauze’ and ‘floss’ throughout.

Refer to the other tutorials for silk gauze as needed before starting. At the bottom of the page, you can click on a photo gallery for larger images.

We’ll start by creating a small corner, as you might with a background area of a design. Anchor your thread and begin in the lower left corner of your stitch or mesh intersection. Come up one thread then over to the right - or to where the actual corner of the design is.

(You will notice I've already stitched a block shape in continental stitches which I will be stitching around with these basketweave stitches.)

Basketweave 01

Go up and to the right, and then down with your needle - just as you've been doing with the continental stitch.

Basketweave 02

Next, move down one thread from your starting point.

Basketweave 03

And back up and to the right - as you did when working a vertical row of continental stitches.

Basketweave 04

Next, start the third stitch by bringing your needle over to the left from your starting point.

Basketweave 05

And again, stitch up and to the left.

Basketweave 06

This little cluster of three stitches creates a triangle which forms the base of a square corner.

Basketweave 07

NOTE, I'm switching to an alternate color for the next diagonal row of stitches so you can see the pattern better. 

Moving one space to the left of the previous stitch, start at the lower left of the mesh intersection, then bring your needle back down at the upper right.

Basketweave 08

Move to the next intersection, one down and one to the right. Repeat - needle up through the lower left and down at the upper right.

Basketweave 09

Repeat this until you get to the edge - up at the lower left of the mesh intersection.

Basketweave 10

And down at the upper right.

Basketweave 11

To start the next row, move down from where you left off on that edge and repeat, coming up in the lower left.

Basketweave 12

And down in the upper right.

Basketweave 13

The next stitch moves over and up so you can once again bring your needle up in the lower right.

Basketweave 14

Continue to repeat this pattern or rhythm, working in diagonal rows.

Basketweave 15

Often the needle comes up in 'clean' hole (one not already shared with another stitch), but when you encounter a design element you will need to 'share' that hole. This means you need to take a bit of care to not split the existing thread.

Basketweave 16

The last stitch in a fully stitched area will look like this - you are still coming up in the lower left of the mesh intersection.

Basketweave 17

And going back down in the upper right so the stitches are all running in a consistent direction.

Basketweave 18

As you go, you can start to see why it's called a basketweave stitch - see the way the individual stitches overlap in a staggered pattern?

Basketweave 19

When you stitch around design motifs, you can work that diagonal straight across those motifs as shown here. You will also notice that I sometimes stitch the basketweave from the lower left. I find that it doesn’t really matter all that much. When you’ve done this a few times, you will discover what you prefer.

Basketweave 20

When you work the diagonal rows straight across the design elements, this is what it will look like on the back. You are covering up most of your stitches. If you are using a thread with color variation, the diagonal direction of your background will begin to stand out. A good example of this is “Serenity” - notice the visual movement in the background? That is the shading in the overdyed floss used for the entire background space.

Basketweave 21

Rather than fill in straight across, I generally meander around the design elements, as shown in this example. Here, I've filled in with the basketweave stitch up to and around the letters. (Honestly, I find it to be less tedious this way.)

Basketweave 22

On the back side you can see that doing this doesn't cover up everything on the reverse side (and likely uses less floss).

Basketweave 23

Although I generally stitch all of the design elements before starting on the background - you can certainly stop and fill in bits as you go, as shown here. This also illustrates how over-dyed floss with stronger contrast in its color shading will create a busier background - keep that in mind when choosing your threads and dye lots.

Basketweave 24

Here's a view of this sample from the back side. You don't have to start your background in a corner as shown in the detailed steps above. It's really up to you how you move around for the backgrounds.

Basketweave 25


The beauty of stitching backgrounds in this manner is you are no longer counting! All of that counting is already done when you were stitching motifs using the continental stitch. This is simply repetitive fill-in stitching.

The Basketweave Stitch, Copyright 2020. Original counted thread designs by Linda Stolz for Erica Michaels Designs.

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