Embroidery - German Brick Stitch

There are many different medieval embroidery stitches, but the German Brick Stitch is one you don't often hear about.

Anyone can learn this stitch, the important thing is to keep a good count and have a supply of patience.


As mentioned, the German Brick Stitch finds its origins in Germany. Mainly in the north-western regions. Finds have been made from the late 13th century to the mid-15th century. But this stitch was also used in other neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium. This stitch is mostly found in wall tapestries, reliquary bags, decoration on church vestments, altar textiles, and some cushions have also been found entirely made with this stitch.

Wallhanging from about 1300, Germany. Note the many different geometric figures.

Detail of the wallhanging.

The technique

German Brick Stitch is characterised by always counting over 2, 4 or 6 ground threads. This makes it easy to form geometric figures, something this stitch is also known for. Bright use of colour, often in primary colours, is also a feature often seen. Usually 2 or 3 different, contrasting colours were used. But there have also been finds of 4 or even 5 different colours!

But; you will think, this stitch is very similar to the "satin stitch"!? Yes, it is! The satin stitch is almost identical to this one. But the German Brick Stitch can be distinguished by three points; bright use of colour, geometric motifs and often the same thread is passed through one opening in the ground fabric twice to create an extra billowing effect.

The material

German Brick Stitch was almost always made with silk. For the ground fabric, linen was mostly used. The number of threads on one centimetre of the ground fabric will determine how large or coarse your Brick Stitch pattern will come out. The finer the ground fabric, the finer the pattern. In any case, make sure you use linen that has as many warp threads as warp threads. This will give you nice proportions in your pattern. This linen is usually sold as "evenweave" fabric.

As silk, I personally like to use the Au Ver A Soie brand. This French brand has very many varieties of silk embroidery thread. Of these, my preference is Soie d'Alger. This silk is made up of 7 thin threads. Depending on the base fabric, I use 3 or 4 thin threads at a time.

Silk strands from Au Ver A Soie - Soie d'Alger

Building up a pattern, start with the easiest shapes to make first, then the padding. It is not recommended to start with white on a white background, this is very hard to see.


If you pay close attention in museums, you will occasionally find this beautiful stitch in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Judging from finds, it is always possible to make a pattern drawing of it yourself, if you are not good at this, there are also a number of websites of very diligent people who have spent an awful lot of time drawing out and digitising patterns in German Brick Stitch.

Wymarc's website is highly recommended!

The above reliquary bag can be found in Saint Servatius Basilica in Maastricht, The Netherlands! Made of silk on a linen base. C.a. 1300, from probably Liège (Belgium) or Maastricht (The Netherlands).

The above reliquary bag is a beautiful example from Spain, found in the Teseum Museum in Tongeren, Belgium.

Do you suspect you've come across German Brick Stitch somewhere in a museum? But is there no clear description here? Please let me know! Perhaps I can help you further in deciphering the pattern. I'm happy to help ;)

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