5 Types of Hand Embroidery Stitches You Should Master


You don’t need to use an embroidery machine to add embroidery to a quilt or any other project. Hand embroidery is an art, and as with any art, it’s the mastering of the basic techniques that will make a world of difference in your craft. Patience and practice are all you need to learn these five types of hand embroidery stitches.

If you want to bring your embroidery to the next level, give these stitches a try:

1. Back Stitch

If you’re looking for a thin stitch, the back stitch is a great choice. You can use this stitch for outlining, and it can also add detail to your projects. A back stitch is one that’s easy to master. You’ll need to follow just a few steps to get started:

  1. Piece the needle through the fabric and create a single stitch by piercing the fabric back down. Make a stitch a space away.
  2. Poke the needle back through the end of your first stitch.
  3. Poke the needle through the end of the previous stitch and back again.

You’ll repeat these steps to create an outline or design to your liking. YouTube has a great tutorial on how to create a back stitch.

2. Split Stitch

Split stitches are fairly easy to create, and you’ll find a lot of embroiderers use this stitch for floral stem outlines. You’ll need to start with embroidery floss splitting the stitch lengthwise and also by width.

You’ll want to use six strand floss because it makes it much easier to split your strands.

This is a stitch that is best visualized, and this is a great video on how to create a split stitch properly.

3. Running Stitch

Embroidery design outlining relies heavily on the running stitch. This is a stitch that can be used on everything, from your child’s clothing to one of your embroidery designs. A fairly simple stitch and one that is very easy to make, the running stitch is made by:

  1. Poking your thread through your fabric
  2. Creating a stitch by poking the needle through the fabric a short distance away
  3. Creating a second stitch following the same concept

The running stitch is a very basic stitch, and this is a stitch that everyone who is into embroidery will want to learn. If you’re having trouble visualizing the steps to make a running stitch, watch this video on how to create a running stitch.

4. Satin Stitch

Satin stitches are easy stitches that leave a smooth surface behind. And this surface looks a lot like satin in appearance. Straight stitches are often used first to outline before you begin using this stitch, and you’ll want to make sure that the satin is inside of this outline.

Satin stitches are a great option when embroidering a leaf, flower or any other design that you want on your piece. The key to this stitch is spacing, and when you’re able to space your stitches accurately, you’ll truly master the satin stitch.

When creating this stitch, you may want to use cross stitching fabric so that you can properly gauge the length and spacing of the stitch.

I recommend watching a good video on how to leverage this stitch to your advantage. A good video on satin stitch creation can be found on YouTube.

5. Stem Stitch

The stem stitch is a stitch that most beginners start with, and like with every stitch, it’s both easy and very versatile. You’ll be using the stem stitch for outlining, and it can be created following these steps:

  1. Create the beginning of the stitch by poking the thread up from the back of the design.
  2. Poke the thread back down into the fabric one stitch length away from the start.
  3. Bring the thread back up through your previous stitch.
  4. Poke the needle down the middle of your previous stitch.

You’ll follow the last two steps throughout the design.

YouTube also has a lot of great videos that show you exactly how to create a stem stitch. Practice this stitch often until you’ve fully mastered it.

These are just five stitches, but there are many more that you should be learning, including:

  • Lazy daisy
  • Chain
  • Feather
  • Seed
  • Herringbone
  • French knot

Research different stitches as you proceed with your embroidery, mastering new stitches along the way that can help you with future projects.

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