Working the Pekinese Embroidery Stitch

  • 01 of 02

    How to Work Pekinese Stitch

    Pekinese Stitch Diagram
    Mollie Johanson


    Pekinese stitch (sometimes called Peking stitch) is a traditional hand embroidery stitch often used in Chinese textile embroidery. This beautiful stitch can appear intricate, but it's quite simple, combining a basic stitch with some lacing.

    Much like some wrapped and woven stitches, Pekinese stitch starts with a back stitch. The lacing is also a bit like weaving, except that in this stitch, you form loops with the second pass of the thread.

    This stitch can vary in its appearance, depending on the thread-type, the number of floss strands, and the size at which you work the stitches. For that reason, it can be versatile. 

    In the simplest form, worked in one color, you can use Pekinese stitch to make bold outlines. Adding a second color makes it perfect for a beautiful border. Stitching rows of it next to each other is ideal for creating a textured fill stitching, similar to a chain stitch fill.

    To work Pekinese stitch, start with a line of back stitch. This should follow the line of stitching you want to create. 

    When all the back stitch is complete, come up from the back under the first back stitch (point 1). Bring the needle out below the stitch and without splitting the back stitch.

    Slide the needle under the next back stitch from bottom to top. Next, slide the needle under the first back stitch from top to bottom, keeping the needle over the first loop of thread.

    Working with a blunt tapestry needle may be helpful to avoid catching or splitting the thread.

    Continue working under the stitches and creating loops until you reach the end. Finish by taking the needle through to the back under the last stitch (point 2). 

    If starting a new thread, bring the needle up at point 2 above the back stitch and continue stitching the laced loops.

    Continue to 2 of 2 below.
  • 02 of 02

    Pekinese Stitch Variations and Ideas

    Pekinese Stitch Examples
    Mollie Johanson

    Try these ideas when using Pekinese stitch:

    • To create a bolder stitch, use six strands of embroidery floss, perle cotton or even yarn. 
    • Although shown here as a bold line (worked with six strands), historically embroiderers worked Pekinese stitch at a much smaller scale too. Give your eyesight a workout by working with one or two strands of floss and very small stitches.
    • Work with all one color for a line of embroidery that looks more like a knotted stitch.
    • Work with two colors to show off the lacing design. You can even try stitching the back stitch and the loops in different types or weights of thread.
    • For a dense stitch, start with small back stitches. This will keep the laced loops close together. When trying this option, be sure that there is still room for the loops to slide under without tugging.
    • For a more open stitch, use larger back stitches. You can also try stitching with fewer strands of floss or altering the tightness of each loop. 
    • Try working Pekinese stitch on a curve too. Explore the way the stitch looks depending on the direction of the curve and how tightly you pull the loops.When using this stitch to create a fill, you can work all of the rows with the loops in the same direction or you can alternate them so they create ridges.