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Turkey work

Turkey work (also known as Turkey rug knot, Ghiordes knot, quilt knot stitch, tufted knot stitch, Turkey stitch, etc.; it has a lot of names!) is a great stitch for creating a soft, fuzzy texture in your embroidery work.

Embroidery hoop with light pink, dark pink, and white circles in a fluffy texture, stitched onto mustard fabric; hoop is on a white surface, surrounded by embroidery floss, scissors, and an eyebrow brush.
Finished Turkey work creates a fluffy texture on your hoop!

In this post, I'll take you through this stitch step-by-step. There is also a video tutorial at the very end of this post (feel free to go ahead and scroll down!), just in case that's easier for you to follow.


Before going through the steps, a pep talk: this stitch looks more complicated than it is. Have patience with yourself!


Step 1: Gather your supplies.


For this demonstration, I'm using a linen blend fabric, onto which I drew myself circles as guidelines using a heat-erasable transfer pen (I can remove these marks with heat once I'm done stitching). You'll also need embroidery floss and a needle.


Other supplies that can be helpful to have when doing this stitch include tweezers (to help you remove the little bits of floss you'll create as you begin cutting down your shape), an eyebrow brush (to help you fluff out your floss), and a pin (to help you keep your loops a bit more uniform and shorter). The tweezers, eyebrow brush, and pin are not necessary - they just make things a bit easier!


Step 2: Prepare your floss.


In these photos, I'm actually using 12 strands of floss! To achieve this, I took one arm's length worth of six-stranded cotton embroidery floss, doubled it over, and threaded my needle at the loose ends (leaving myself a loop at the other end).


In the video tutorial at the end of this post, I'm using just six strands of floss. Use whatever works best for you - in creating this tutorial, I realized that it doesn't make too much of a difference either way.


Step 3: Bring your needle down through the top of your fabric.


If you're working with 12 strands (like I am in these photos), you'll leave your loop sticking out of the fabric. If you're working with 6 strands (like I do in the video tutorial at the end of this post), you'll leave your tail sticking out of the fabric.


You can hold your loop (or tail) with your thumb to prevent it from going through your fabric. If you have a pin, you can also use that to hold your loop! I like using the pin to hold my loops when I'm wanting to be more mindful of how much waste I'll be creating once I get to the cutting and fluffing stage of this stitch.


Step 4: Anchor your first stitch.


Anchoring your stitch is what will prevent it from falling out once you get to the trimming and fluffing stage.


To anchor, start by bringing your needle back up through your fabric, just to the left of your first stitch.


Next, bring your needle back down, just to the right of your first stitch.