The Britches Full Of Stitches polka

Also known as The Breeches Full Of Stitches, O The Britches Full Of Stitches, Oh The Breeches Full Of Stitches, Oh! The Breeches Full Of Stitches, Oh! The Britches Full Of Stitches, Witches’ Britches.

There are 25 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with Bill Sullivan’s (lots of times), The Ballydesmond (a few times).

The Britches Full Of Stitches has been added to 949 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Four settings

X: 1
T: The Britches Full Of Stitches
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:d>e fd|ed fd|d>e fd|edB2|d>e fd|ed fa|d>e dB|BA A2:|
|:~a2af|ed ef|~a2af|edb2|~a2af|ed ef|d>e dB|BA A2:|
# Added by Paddy .
ABC
X: 2
T: The Britches Full Of Stitches
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|: E/F/ |A>B cA | BA cA | A>B c/B/A | FA EF |
AA/B/ cA | BA ce | | A>B AF | FE E :|
c |ee/f/ ec | BA Bc | e>f ec | BA F2 |
e>f ec | BA Bc | AA/B/ c/B/A |FA E>c |
ef ec | B>^A Bc | a>f e/f/e/c/ | BA FA |
e2 ec | BA B2 | AA/B/ A/G/F | FE E |]
ABC
X: 3
T: The Britches Full Of Stitches
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: GA B/A/G | AG BG | G2 BG | AG E2 |
G>A BG | AG Bd | GG/A/ GE | ED D2 :|
|: d/e/d/c/ dB | A^G AB | g/a/g/f/ ge | dB A2 |
d2 dB | A/B/A/^G/ AB/A/ | GG/A/ B/A/G | EG D2 :|
ABC
X: 4
T: The Britches Full Of Stitches
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: G>A BG | AG BG | G2 BG | AG E2 |
G>A BG | AG Bd | G>A GE | ED D2 :|
|: d>e dB | AG AB | d>e dB | AG E2 |
d>e dB | AG AB | G>A GE | ED D2 :|
ABC

Twenty-eight comments

Britches

This is the first polka I learned, and my favorite. I normally play it on the pipes, but it well suits the whistle. The first notes in the |def d| parts sound better played with a hold on the first eighth note and the second one cut. The "~" in the second part is an ornament that can be played on the whistle as two quick hits of the f - finger when on the a. This seperates the two a’s in a much more musical way than with the tongue.

Posted by .

Britches full of Stitches

A great polka although at our session it’s always played in the key of "G" - we usually follow it with John Ryan’s (Armagh Polka) and the Ballydesmond.

I have heard it played in "G," easier for the fiddle I believe

Posted by .

Britches full of Stitches

I learned this polka in A.

Looks good for beginners

This tune looks like it will be very good for the beginners that I have playing at our dances here in Storrs CT, USA. It was reccommended to me by "Deidre"

Britches Polka…most popular Key?

Which key do you think is most popular for this tune at sessions….G…..D….or A?
And which key sounds best on your instrument?
I play Flute and prefer D
Ben

Posted by .

Re: Britches Polka…most popular Key?

From my experience, "G" seems to be most popular followed closely by "A" - I’d prefer "A" on the fiddle as it sounds a lot brighter. The same could be said for Sweeney’s Polka which also sounds much better in "A" than in "G".

A variation

I first learnt this tune with a nice change, which for the version given here would be: change every "a2" in the B part to "a>b", i.e. 3/8 a followed by 1/8 b.

A variation

Sorry - I meant 3/16 a followed by 1/16 b, of course.

this is a GREAT tune for beginners…i love this tune!!
i play it in the key of G though ;)

Chieftains’ version of ‘The breeches full of stiches’

In ‘The Best of Chieftains’ they play a set of polkas with this name, but the real ‘the breeches full of stiches’ polka is the second one in the set. Does anyone know the name of the first and the third ones? I love them, too, and I would like to look for the tunes separatedly to learn them.

Thanks!

“The Britches Full Of Stitches” ~ keys & ways ~

K: A Major
|: E/F/ |
A>B cA | BA cA | A>B c/B/A | FA EF |
AA/B/ cA | BA ce | | A>B AF | FE E :|
c |
ee/f/ ec | BA Bc | e>f ec | BA F2 |
e>f ec | BA Bc | AA/B/ c/B/A |FA E>c |
ef ec | B>^A Bc | a>f e/f/e/c/ | BA FA |
e2 ec | BA B2 | AA/B/ A/G/F | FE E :|

K: G Major
|: GA B/A/G | AG BG | GA BG | AG E2 |
GA BG | AG Bd | GA GE | ED D2 :|
|: d/e/d/c/ dB | AG AB | g/a/g/f/ ge | dB A2 |
d2 dB | A/B/A/G/ A2 | G2 GE | ED D :|

You can also find Kevin Burke teaching it in the key of A on DVD #1 of a pair:

"Learn to Play Irish Fiddle: Polkas, Jigs & Slides" ~ 90 minutes
Homespun Videos / DVDs
ISBN: 1-932964-44-4

~ e2 ec | BA B2 | AA/B/ A/G/F | FE E |] ~ :-/ ( not ~ | FE E :| )

The B-part of the A Major version just above does not repeat!

is it just me or does this sound like nancy whiskey?

The Britches Full of Stitches reccomended version

I would just like to recommend that you musicians who don’t like the little tune "Britches Full of Stitches" have a listen to Martin Hayes’ version on his first, self-titled solo album. I read the note that had to go with it stating basically that a whistle player, Joe Bane, would wait all week to play this tune in the local session. Martin’s interpretation, in my opinion, is very moving, and gave me a lump in my throat.

I’m just kind of surprised that he can convey such feelings through a tune like The Britches. I mean, I’ve gotten many different feelings from this music, but nothing in this context. I’d be happy if even ONE person could see where I’m coming from and tell me that I haven’t lost it!

Re: The Britches Full of Stitches reccomended version

http://www.thesession.org/recordings/display/157
Thanks Paddy C. I will give it a listen. I have not listened to the CD in years. I did learn ‘Morning Star’ (& others) from Martin”s recording.

Posted .

Re: The Britches Full of Stitches reccomended version

I haven’t heard Martin Hayes play the Britches Full of Stitches but I think I know what you mean. With me it was hearing the late Clare concertina player, Gerdie Commane play the Irish Washerwoman (a much abused jig by various orchestras and Hollywood movie producers looking for Leprachaun music) who transformed the tune. The notes may have been the same but the delivery through phrasing and lift transformed the tune completely into as good a jig as you’d hear anywhere.

Re: The Britches Full of Stitches reccomended version

Well, I have that album, and frankly I don’t care much for that track. To each his own, I guess. It’s too sentimental for me, and it doesn’t get my foot tapping.

I learned this tune from Kevin Burke’s videos, and I like the way that he plays it…but I guess that’s the way you don’t like to hear it as it’s usually played like that.

Oh well, like I said, to each his (or her) own. I’ve always liked the tune myself, though it does gets kind of old.

Re: The Britches Full of Stitches reccomended version

Though who don’t like it probably aren’t playing it right - get your polka rhythm down and try again. Then crosstune and play all around and about. Then learn a new instrument and play it. Then teach it to somebody in a different key and punch them in the face with a quiche made of sheep.

—DtM

Martin Hayes version

It’s a love or loathe thing with Martin’s version I think. It’s the same with his playing. I like his playing despite it’s ‘acquired taste.’ I suppose I can see through a barrier many can’t and into his version of this tune. Yeah, each to his own I suppose.

Played in Session

Always heard this played in A maj as it suits most instruments and doesn’t sound so dark as G or D on the fiddle. I’m wondering why the "Sheet Music" has rolls on quavers (1/2) as opposed to crotchets (1)? Seems a little peculiar that.

how do u add grace notes in this tune? i am learning it in my accordion lessons

This tune is also heard in Newfoundland band Great Big Sea’s song Dance Dance from their 2008 album Fortune’s Favour. Good stuff!

I added the G version I hear and play most often in my area (US, western New York State). Surprised no one has loaded this really common version, since there are so many comments saying they play it in G.

This tune is included in the Noel McLaughlin CD "Famous Irish Ballads (No Matter Where I Wander…)", issued by ARC Music, EUCD 1307. It appears as the third tune in a set with Bill Sullivan’s Polka and Ballydesmond Polka.

On the CD, the track is listed simply "Polkas". It took me some time to find out the titles of all three.