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“Forbidden” stitches

Iris_Colo | Posted in General Discussion on

from Kayla Kennington’s website:      “The highlight of the [award-winning Butterfly ]coat is the free-motion machine embroidered butterfly on the back, created with stitches similar to the ancient “forbidden stitch” often found in Chinese robes of the Ming Dynasty.

Okay – someone please fill me in…. what was the ancient forbidden stitch mentioned in the exerpt above.?  I’m sure I would have been decapitated in any era because I like defying these very types of “rules”.

Can anyone else comment on other stitches/clothing/styles, etc. which were forbidden in other times?  I know there were certain colors and certain fabrics in various dynasties and other cultures which were forbidden to common people and reserved only for rulers and royalty, not just in the orient but everywhere.

Historians… come out, come out and tell us what you know.  Thanks,  Iris


  1. kayl | | #1

    Look up "Peking stitch" or "chinese knot stitch" (which is not the

    same as "Pekingese stitch"... these are knotted stitches that are

    somewhat cousins to french knots, but usually more open and rounded

    looking. Sometimes called "seed stitch", too... but not like the

    small straight stitches that are sometimes called "seed stitch" in

    western embroideries.

    Peking stitch is kind of fun to do, but I'm slow at it, and my

    stitches sometimes vary in size. Done properly, it's uniform, and

    often worked in rows echoing the shape that's being filled. Lovely

    textural stitch.

    Kay Lancaster [email protected]

    1. SewTruTerry | | #4

      Wasn 't Peking also known as the "Forbidden City" hence the name of the stitch is interchangeable as well?

  2. Michelle | | #2

    Curiously enough, there is a biblical prohibition, of wearing garments that contain both wool and flax (linen). This is forbidden whether the wool and linen are spun together, woven together, or sewn together.  (This is referred to as shatnez)

    This prohibition can be found in Liviticus 19:19 and in Deuteronomy 22:11 for those of you who wish to look up for yourselves.

    To this day, observant Jews worldwide adhere to this prohibition and hence will take particular care checking lables when buying clothes and fabrics.  In major Jewish communities there also special 'shatnez' labs that will check any garment.


    1. SewTruTerry | | #3

      I think I understand the prohibition on wool.  Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that the reason for the prohibition on the wool was also similiar to the prohibition on pig and all pig products.  Because they had cloven hoofs that they competed with food and water sources during the time they spent in the desert.  But why would they have prohibited linen?

      1. sarahnyc | | #5

        terry -

        I think you misunderstood - wool is fine, flax or linen is fine...just not mixed together -

        this prohibition falls under a whole catagory of stuff that can't be mixed together.. milk and meat products can't be eaten at the same meal, different varieties of animals can't be yokes together to pull a plow...

        but during various times in history there were laws certainly in europe on both what certain classes could wear ( and not wear) along with certain ethnic groups - so certain classes were allowed to wear certain colors and others ...not . purple was royal - because no one else was allowed to wear it.

        jews is some countries in europe were  forbidden to wear many types of clothing, certain colors and ornaments. there were also sumptuary laws - if you were of a particular class and even if you had money to wear fancier duds.. you were forbidden to.

        this is a big and not always very pretty issue.

        sarah in nyc

  3. Dixedreg | | #6


    Here is a good link with excellent pictures that explains the "forbidden" stitches.




    1. carolfresia | | #7

      That is so interesting, Natalie. Thanks for posting the link.


    2. rjf | | #8

      Thank you for the link. It's beautiful work but it's hard to imagine the hours spent doing it.  Do you suppose they just get used to it and whip along?  I think there's a difference when you're doing it for yourself or for a job.  It would be nice to know if they know how much we admire their work.     rjf

    3. Jude | | #9

      What a wonderful web link! Thanks very much for this.

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