10 Basic Embroidery Stitches

Let’s look at some of the basic embroidery stitches. These are the stitches I use the most when creating toys (or any other embroidery project, actually).

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Running Stitch

The most basic stitch in embroidery. Simply bring the needle through the fabric from the back at your starting point, then poke it through to the back a short distance away, creating one stitch at a time. The key to a nice looking running stitch is to be consistent in your stitch length and the length of the interval between your stitches. You can play with stitch lengths and distances between the stitches to achieve different look.

running stitch
running stitch

Back Stitch

The back stitch is great when you need to make a solid line, when you are outlining a design or making a text. It is also useful for outlining shapes that will be filled with satin stitch. When making the back stitch, individual stitches are made backward to the general direction of sewing.

To make the back stitch, bring the needle up from the back of the fabric slightly in front of where the line will begin. Then poke it through to the back at your starting point (where your line starts). You have created the first back stitch. Now bring the needle through the fabric from the back slightly in front of your last stitch (the distance should be the same as the length of your first stitch) and bring it back down through the end of the previous stitch. Continue stitching in the same manner, spacing the stitches at consistent intervals

back stitch
back stitch

Satin Stitch

Basic satin stitch is a filling stitch that can be used to fill smaller areas of your design, such as hearts or the flower leaves

First, draw the shape you want to fill. Then, bring the needle up through the fabric at your starting point. Create one stitch that extends from one end of the shape to the other. Bring the needle up on the side where you started and go back down on the opposite side. To make a nice looking satin stitch, make sure to keep the stitches as close to one another as possible.

satin stitch
satin stitch

Split Stitch

The split stitch creates a solid line with a braid-like look.

To do the split stitch, you will have to split your stitch not only lengthwise, but also by width. You can use any number of strands of embroidery floss, although an even number of strands will make your split stitch look more balanced.

Start with one straight stitch. Then, bring the needle up through the center of the stitch you just made, splitting the floss in half by width and by length. When completing your second stitch, go down again to the back about a half stitch length in front of your first stitch.

Repeat.

split stitch
split stitch

Chain Stitch

The chain stitch is a looped stitch that can be worked along a curved or straight line.

Pull your needle up through the fabric, then insert it again at the starting point and bring the tip up through the fabric a short distance away. Place the working thread behind the needle to form a loop. When you come to the end, make a small anchoring stitch to secure the final loop in place.

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Stem Stitch

The stem stitch creates a thin line, often used to create flower stems and vines – that’s where it got the name from 😉  It’s one of the easiest options to make a curved line, but can be used on a straight line as well.

To make a stem stitch start by creating one straight stitch forward. Then, come back up just a little less than halfway between the start end the end point of the first stitch, just above the stitch. Make the next stitch the same length as the first stitch and repeat.

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French Knot

The french knot stitch can be used to do little flowers or eyes, for dense, textured filling or subtle punctuation with isolated little stitches. If you work many french knots closely together you’ll get an interesting woolly look. To do this stitch, you’ll have to use both hands.

Bring the needle up where you want to place your french knot. Wrap the thread around your needle twice. Hold the working thread taut and bring the needle down just next to the point where it came up, but not through the exact same hole. While still holding your working thread, pull the needle through, securing the knot in place.

I find it best and easiest to wrap the thread around needle twice, but if you want to make knots smaller or larger, you can change the number of strands of your floss or increase/decrease the number of times you wrap the thread around the needle.

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Seed Stitch

The seed stitch is used as a filler stitch. It is simple a series of straight stitches made in random directions to fill in a larger area. The end result looks just like tossing a handful of seeds on to your fabric.

You can use a seed stitch to make animal fur, sprinkles or to fill a grassy area.

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Lazy Daisy

Also known as “detached chain stitch”, this is a variation of the chain stitch. This is a single chain stitch, secured by a small anchoring stitch. It is often used for floral designs.

First, create a single chain stitch. Pull the needle out to tighten the loop. Put the needle in just outside the chain created ad make a small anchoring stitch over the top of the loop, to secure the loop in place. That will finish your lazy daisy stitch.

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Blanket Stitch

This stitch is called blanket stitch, because traditionally, it is used to stitch the edges of blankets to minimise wearing and fraying. However, it can also be done on the surface of the fabric. It is often times used along the edge of an appliqué or even as a decorative stitch all on its own. It is used on a raw fabric edge to give it a finished look and it also has a decorative function.

Begin by bringing the needle up where you want to place your first stitch, like the outside of the appliqué. Put the needle back through the appliqué and to the right from the starting point. When making another stitch the distance is not as important as it is important to keep the distance between stitches even throughout the stitching. Pull almost all the way through, leaving a loop. Bring your needle back up just above the last stitch on the outside of the appliqué and bring the needle through the loop.

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