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How to do Swiss Darning or Duplicate Stitch

Updated on August 27, 2019
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Hello, my name is Sue and I have used swiss darning or duplicate stitch, as it is also known, to adorn many of my knitted toys.

How to do Swiss Darning or Duplicate Stitch

Swiss darning is a method of creating a picture by duplicating over your knitted stocking stitches using a different colour to the one you knitted with. You are duplicating the little V's of your knitted stocking stitch.

It is a slightly easier way of creating the intarsia look.

I have included my swiss darning/duplicate stitch chart free for you to use as much as you like. Each pink square on the chart represents one V stitch.

I have used swiss darning/duplicate stitch to add motifs on many of my knitted toys, see image 9. I swiss darned/duplicate stitched the F on Frankie's belt buckles

You Will Need:

A yarn needle.

A piece of stocking stitch knitting.

A piece of yarn the same weight as your piece of stocking stitch.

A pair of scissors.

Now you're ready to start

Step 1:

Thread your yarn needle with a piece of yarn (approximately 12 inches) the same weight as your piece of stocking stitch. The reason for this is because if you use yarn thinner than your stocking stitch the swiss darning/duplicate stitch will not cover your V's. It may be possible to go over each V more than once if you wanted to use a thinner yarn but I have not tried this. If you use a yarn thicker than your stocking stitch then you will likely lose some definition of the pattern you are trying to create.

Step 2:

Decide where you want to place your motif and bring your yarn needle up at the bottom of the first V you want to stitch and leave a 2 to 3 inch tail on the back of your work. You can catch this tail down as you stitch.

Step 3:

Insert your yarn needle under the V of the stitch above the stitch you are duplicating, see image 1. Pull your needle through. Notice that you have completed the right side of your first swiss darned/duplicate stitch.

Step 4:

To complete the left side of your V - insert your yarn needle into the bottom of the V where you first began your swiss darning/duplicate stitch. So the exact spot where you first brought your yarn needle out to begin. (If you want to you can also find the bottom of the next V with the tip of your yarn needle but if you don't feel confident to do that at this stage, that's okay). See image 2. Pull your yarn needle through. You have just finished your first swiss darn/duplicate stitch.

Tip:

Don't pull your yarn too tightly as this will distort your knitted fabric. Your swiss darning/duplicate stitch should just cover the V you are working on.

Step 5:

To make your next swiss darn/duplicate stitch bring your yarn needle up at the bottom of the next V. You can work left to right, right to left or up and down, it's up to you. See image 4.

Step 6:

Repeat steps 2 to 5 until you have completed all of your swiss darning/duplicate stitch. Sew ends in neatly on the reverse of your work.

Changing colours & starting new pieces of yarn:

It easy to change colours or start a new piece of yarn too. Just finish your current piece of yarn by weaving the last 2 to 3 inches on the reverse of your work. Then start your new piece of yarn the same way as your very first piece. Leave a 2 to 3 inch tail on the back and hold it down so your first few stitches catch it to secure.

See image 7 of a completed swiss darned/duplicate stitch heart motif and image 8 to see what the back of the work looks like.

Swiss darning/duplicate stitch can be used to add motifs or letters to anything knitted . Here are a few ideas:

  • add a swiss darn/duplicate stitch motif to a sweater.
  • add a swiss darn/duplicate stitch initial/s to a bag, toy, hat or scarf.
  • add a swiss darn/duplicate stitch motif to knitted blanket squares.
  • add a swiss darn/duplicate stitch initial to a dogs knitted coat.
  • make a knitted key fob and swiss darn/duplicate stitch your or a loved ones/friend's initial on it.
  • knit up some bunting/pennants and add swiss darn/duplicate stitch motifs on each one.

The list of what you can do with this craft is endless and once you start you will be adding motifs everywhere. In fact you could even swiss darn/duplicate stitch whole pictures on sweaters, blankets or jackets.

There was a book out a few years back, see image 10, that was dedicated to swiss darning/duplicate stitch and it was called Decorating Sweaters with Duplicate Stitch. I had a look on the internet and it is still available in the UK today, Tuesday 27th August 2019, on eBay, World of Books and Roger Lucas Booksellers. The patterns will be a bit dated today but it would be a great source of inspiration.

You might want to also consider getting some squared paper and having a go at designing your own swiss darning/duplicate stitch patterns.

Practice on a few knitted squares for a while. Have some fun with it.




How to do Swiss Darning or Duplicate Stitch

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How to do Swiss Darning or Duplicate Stitch

© 2019 Sue Payn

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    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the instructions. The photos are a great addition to the article. I can see how the technique that you describe would be very useful in creating a knitted toy.

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