This stitch is similar in effect to surface honeycomb but is more square in appearance. (Surface honeycomb produces a network of distinct "V's" on the fabric surface whereas Van Dyke stitch is a softer stitch in appearance, producing a network of undulating "U's".) Because it incorporates a backstitch, you'll find that the stitch does use up more thread than is usual and be warned, it is time consuming , as each pleat is stitched twice...... but this also means that it is a very strong and elastic stitch that shows up well on the fabric because of its density. It is also a pain to unpick if you do make a mistake so, *smile*, work carefully. Unlike most other stitches, it is worked from right to left and uses two pleats at a time, one old and one new, and each pleat is stitched twice.
1. Bring the needle up between the first two pleats to be stitched on the right hand side of the fabric. Take the thread through to the left hand side of the second pleat.
2. Keeping thread over needle take a backstitch through pleats one and two. (I have found that angling the needle ever so slightly as you do this second stitch will make it easier to keep the stitch straight and even in depth. Also, take care not to pierce the threads of the first stitch (otherwise... and not that you will need to, *smile* , unpicking in the event of a mistake, will be a nightmare!)
3. Thread still over needle, follow pleat two down to the bottom gathering row and take a stitch through pleats two and three (an old pleat and a new one)
4. Thread under needle, make a backstitch through these two pleats again.
5. Thread still under needle, travel up on pleat three and make a stitch through pleats three and four (old pleat and a new pleat) .
6. Changing thread to over needle, backstitch through pleats three and four a second time.
7. Continue across row in this manner.
Example of multiple rows of single Van Dyke Stitch
Hint:--- A single row of van dyke stitch worked over a full space between two rows of cable stitches makes an effective casing for 1/8 inch ribbon for sleeves.
1. Begin as before, and bring the needle up between the first two pleats to be stitched on the right hand side of the fabric.Take the thread through to the left side of the second pleat (as if taking a stitch) and keeping thread over needle take a backstitch through pleats one and two.
2. Follow second pleat down to the half space mark between gathering rows and take a stitch through pleats two and three. Changing thread to over needle position, secure these pleats with a backstitch.
3. Still with thread over needle, travel down the third pleat to the bottom gathering row and stitch through pleats three and four. Restitch with a backstitch.
4. Continue working down in this manner until the bottom of the wave is reached and then changing thread to the under needle position, work back up, a half space at a time in the same manner.
Mirrored Double Van Dyke Stitch
There is an excellent article in the Jan/Feb 1994 edition of "Creative Needle" magazine under the heading of Smocking Horizons on this stitch.