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Stitch Fun – Turkey Rug Stitch


Stitch this Fabulous Sampler

stitch sampler for hand embroidery

If you want to stitch this wonderful sampler and learn over 30 Hand Embroidery stitches then head over to this page for all the information.

Turkey Rug Stitch

Also known as Turkey Work or Ghiordes knot – this is a stitch that is commonly used in Turkey for making rugs and it has been adapted in hand embroidery as a surface stitch to add texture.

This might be one of those where you can’t really think how it would be worked into a pattern but it has surprising uses! Here’s the Squirrel from my ‘Walk in the Woods’ pattern with his Turkey Work Tail…

I love this stitch. It can be a bit labour intensive – the stitch itself is simple, but it can take a long time to fill a small space so patience is required. Once it’s stitched though, it is so worth it as the fun you get from creating the fluffy texture is worth all that extra time!

If you have purchased the Pre Printed Fabric Panel or have tranferred the Template to your fabric – scroll down to the ‘Start Stitching’ section to get started straight away.

Time to practice…

On the lower left hand quarter of your circle, draw a 3cm square on the centre edge just below the Griffen Stitch.

Start Stitching…

Choose your Thread…

I found a fab coloured thread in my stash from Cottage Garden Threads. It’s a variegated thread which I thought would look fun so I used 3 strands of this. (This would be the equivalent to 3 strands in DMC.)

Once you have marked your square on the sample and popped 3 strands of your chosen thread on your needle, you are ready to get stitching…

  • Take the needle down on the left bottom corner of the square (1) – pull the thread through and leave 3/4inch tail of thread sticking up.
  • Bring the needle back up just to the right…

Pull the thread through…

…and then take the needle back down slightly above where you came out at the very start.

This creates a small holding stitch which stops the thread tail from pulling through.

Now you complete the rest of the row with loops of thread held in place each with a holding stitch…

The first loop…

Bring the needle and thread up next to the tail on the line…

Take the needle back down just to the right and pull through to create a loop. The size of your loops need to be about 3/4inch.

Now you just need to create the holding stitch which will hold this loop in place…

Bring the needle up next to the right of the loop and take the needle back down just above and next to where you came up for that loop. This is your holding stitch and the loop is secure.

Now you create a row of loops in the same way…

turkey rug stitch guide
turkey rug stitch

For the second row, you complete the loops in the exact same way but just work to the left for all the stitch elements.

When you come to the end of your thread always finish on a holding stitch and then strart again with a tail of thread as you did at the very start.

turkey rug stitch

The rows are worked close to one another so the resulting pile will be nice and dense.

This does take a bit of time even for a small 3cm square!

turkey rug stitch
turkey rug stitch

Here’s how it looks once the whole square is stitched. Lots of fabulous loops all closely worked together…

Now for the really fun bit…

Using a SHARP pair of embroidery scissors – cut through the loops – lift them up as you snip to make sure you are cutting them in the middle but don’t tug them. You will end up with a shaggy mess just like this…

turkey rug stitch tutorial.

Now you need to give it a bit of a trim! Again, make sure your scissors are sharp and trim the top so it is nice and flat and go around the sides.

Fluff it up as you go and keep going until you have a nice neat square…

Turkey Work
Turkey work
Turkey rug stitch square
stitch sampler

And that’s it – you have a fabulous piece of Turkey work on your sampler. Hopefully you enjoyed that stitch as much as me!

As always – hop over to the Happy Stitching Facebook Group and share your progress as well as for help and advice should you get stuck along the way!

Happy Stitching!

Want to remember this? Post this tutorial to your favorite Pinterest board!

Turkey Rug Stitch Tutorial


  1. Thanks for the tutorial. I am working on the animals on the Walk in the Woods. I was not going to attempt this. After reading the instructions, I worked on a small area and I think I can do it. I am looking forward to the squirrel now. I have really enjoyed working on this. It has pushed me to try stitches I was afraid to.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Hermelinda, That’s great to hear and so pleased you are encouraged to try a few new stitches. You could always practice on a scrap piece first and if you really don’t like it swap for French Knots for the Squirrels tail. The walk in the Woods is so achievable as it is just lots of little small bits and any stitches you struggle with can be swapped for something else that works for you. Let me know how you get on x

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