Soutache Embroidery

Early 20th century woollen suit jacket with soutache embroidery. Early 20th century woollen suit jacket with soutache embroidery.

Soutache embroidery is a form of decorative needlework that technically falls in the category of applied decoration, especially as a form of passementerie, rather than embroidery. The nineteenth century English term derives from the French word soutache, which in its turn comes from the Hungarian word, sujtás. It was a popular technique in Hungary for decorating military uniforms.

Soutache embroidery uses a particular type of very narrow braid, which has a characteristic V-shaped appearance. Sometimes the term soutache is applied to a variety of decorative narrow braids, but again this is technically incorrect.

The use of soutache braids became popular in the West in the nineteenth century, for creating various types of interlacing designs and letters (especially for Celtic designs). A suitable design was worked in ink or paint on a ground material and then the braid was laid onto the design and stitched down the middle using a small running stitch. The aim was to complete the design using one continuous length of braid.

Sometimes the braid was sewn onto net, in order to make soutache (net) lace. It was also threaded onto a long-eyed needle and used as a decorative element and/or padding in Mountmellick embroidery from Ireland.


  • KLICKMAN, Fiona (1910). The Home Art Book of Fancy Stitching, London: the Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine, 4th edition, p. 5.
  • THOMAS, Mary (1936). Mary Thomas's Embroidery Book, London: Hodder and Stoughton, pp. 175-176.
  • The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: 'Soutache'.

Digital source (retrieved 4th May 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 9th July 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 16:28
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