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Popular Embroidery Stitches

Hand embroidery stitches can basically be broken down into five groups:

  1. Outline – mainly used for outlining elements of your design

  2. Border – used to secure edges and add textural dimension to your design

  3. Detached – used singularly these stitches create decorative details or they can be used in groups to fill in open areas of the design

  4. Filling – used to create shading or to solidly fill in a design area

  5. Special Stitches


Running Stitch

Probably the simplest of all embroidery stitches, running stitch can look very effective in a simple design or to add contrast in a more detailed design.

Stem Stitch

As the name of this stitch suggests, it is often used when embroidering the stems of flowers, but it can be used for any lines or outlining that you want. Stem stitch gives an unbroken line of stiches so if useful for covering transfer lines on your cloth.

Back Stitch

Very similar to running stitch, back stitch gives a solid line of stitching and can be used to create a stronger outline.

Whipping Stitch (also known as Laced Running Stitch)

Whipping, or lacing, can be used to add extra weight to either running or back stitching.

stem stitch.jpg
back stitch.jpg

Chain Stitch

Chain stitch can be used when you want to create a more decorative outline to a part of your design.


To end a row of chain stitch simply make a small stitch over the last loop to hold it in place and secure thread on back.


Blanket Stitch

A decorative stitch to neaten raw edges of fabric. Blanket stitch can also be used as a decoration.

Working left to right, bring your needle up at 1, down at 2 and up at 3, keeping the thread looped under the needle.

Whip Stitch (also known as Overcast Stitch)

A simple but effective stitch to tidy raw edges. Either use a matching thread to your fabric to ‘hide’ the stitches or a contrast colour for a more decorative finish.

blanket stitch.jpg


Stab Stitch (also known as Seed Stitch)

A simple stitch for creating light shading in a large area of your design. Either work a single stitch or double as shown in the diagram.

French Knot

French knots can be used to fill an area or stitched on their own or in groups to add detail. They are the perfect stitch to use when stitching seed heads and are surprisingly simple once you have mastered them.

Bullion Knot

A good stitch for creating simple straight leaves. Similar to a French knot, but wrap the thread around the needle multiple times and lay the stitch flat.

Lazy Daisy (also known as Broken Chain Stitch)

The lazy daisy stitch does just what its name suggests! It is a great way to create a quick, simple flower effect

seed stitch.jpg
french knot.jpg
bullion knot.jpg
lazy daisy.jpg


Satin Stitch

Probably the most popular stitch for creating a solid fill for an area. Satin stitch gives a clean, smart look to your embroidery. Vary the direction on the stitches to get a different effect.

satin stitch.jpg

Padded Satin Stitch

Sewing some seed stitches (see above) first before sewing satin stitch over the top adds extra depth and impact to your embroidery.

padded satin stitch.jpg

Long and Short Stitch

Use long & short stitch if you need to fill a large area or if you need to shade an area, such as a flower petal. Use alternating long and short stitches for the first row of stitches, then all stitches should be the same length to create the blended look of this stitch.

long and short stitch.jpg


Scallop Stitch

Scallop stitch is a bit like an 'open' lazy daisy stitch and is used to create decorative curves or 'scallops'. Bring your needle up at one side of the scallop and down at the other. Leave the thread slightly loose and then stitch a small catching stitch at the top of the curve to create the scallop. If you are stitching a large curve you may need to stitch more than one 'catching stitch' to keep the shape of the scallop.

scallop stitch.jpg

Woven Wheel (also known as the Woven Rose)

The woven wheel stitch is great for stitching simple flowers. Start by stitching an odd number of spokes - 3, 5 or 7 work well. Then weave your thread in and out of the spokes until the wheel is full. Be careful not to stitch through the fabric when doing this and also make sure you don't catch the threads of the spokes. You may find it easier to use a blunt needle for this weaving.


A variation of the woven wheel is to fill the centre with French knots and end the spokes a little bit out from the centre to create a flower with a decorative centre. 

woven wheel.jpg
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