The sewn roof

General Information

The sewn roof emerged in the Middle Ages and does not need sways (e.g. steel rods). In contrast to the tied roof, crafting a sewn roof needs a somewhat bigger effort. Two or three thatchers are needed. While two craftsmen thatch the roof the third one fetches the material required.

Advantages of a sewn thatched roof:

  • This roof covering, sewn with a shuttle, does not need an extra under layer (the above mentioned 30 mm thick layer used when screwing or stitching) as the reed layers are lifted to lie on top of the lathing
  • Less metal is used in the roof.


One of the workers is sewing on top of the roof while the other one works from within (called counter-sewer), standing on a ladder or a scaffolding. At first, the craftsman working from outside also stands on a scaffolding or a ladder and inserts the needle below the roof batten. The person sewing from inside then pulls out the whole wire. The person working from outside takes the empty needle back and now inserts it backwards, about 2 cm below the wire but above of the roof batten. Now the person inside threads the wire into the needle and the person outside pulls the wire back outside. Now, on the outside, the thatcher pulls the wire tight and thus forms a loop which helps to press the reed layer down.