Embroidery is a hobby enjoyed by both women and men, in part because it is a great way to be creative and to relax after a hard day’s work. You can find tons of patterns at both your local craft store and online, and all types of embroidery stitches are available to you. Learning both basic embroidery stitches and more complicated ones is a lot easier than you think, so you can feel like a pro in no time.
To be clear, there are literally dozens of embroidery stitches, so finding one that you love and you find easy to do shouldn’t be difficult. Some of these stitches include the blanket stitch, chain stitch, French knot, ladder stitch, and satin stitch, but this is only the beginning.
What Are the Different Types of Embroidery Stitches?
Before you explore some of the more complicated embroidery stitches, it’s best to learn the basic stitches first. Learning at least a few of the basic stitches will boost your confidence and allow the rest of the stitches you learn to feel a lot easier. Just like any other craft, it’s always best to start with the basics!
Here are some of the most-basic stitches you should learn when you want to practice embroidery.
1. Blanket Stitch
The blanket stitch is a popular embroidery stitch because it is easy to learn and provides a decorative way to finish seams. It is so easy that you can use it on most types of fabric, including felt. If you have two layers of fabric, one on top of the other, start by knotting the end of the thread, then placing that knot on the inside of the bottom layer of fabric. Then, bring the thread around and poke a hole where you placed the knotted part of your thread when you started.
At this point, you’ll have one completed stitch, and it sits in a vertical position. You’ll then pull the needle through the bottom of the stitch, pull it tight and bring it to the right of the first stitch. Bring the needle up through both fabric layers, and when the needle comes down, make sure it’s in front of the loop you just made and not the back of it.
When you’re done with this stitch, it will look like a group of vertical stitches roughly 1/8 inch apart and you’ll notice stitches at the bottom of the stitches as well. Think of it as a bunch of “U’s” in a row. This is how you’ll know you’re doing it correctly.
2. Overcast (Whip) Stitch
This stitch is used to both finish seams and to make appliques. To start, you’ll do what you did with the blanket stitch – place the knotted end “inside” of the two layers of fabric, then make the first stitch by bringing up the thread to the place where you started and pulling it through so that the first stitch is made.
You will create the stitches by making them roughly 1/8 or 1/4 inch apart, and when you’re finished and you look at the actual seams, you’ll see slanted lines instead of the “U’s” that you see with the blanket stitch. This is a very neat and even stitch that closes the seams tightly, which is one of the reasons it’s one of the easiest types of embroidery stitches regardless of the fabric you’re using.
3. Straight (Running) Stitch
If you’re going to learn to embroider, the straight stitch is one of the ones you’ll find yourself using the most. You can use this stitch to close seams, add some decoration to your project, or even use multiple straight stitches to fill in an object that’s part of your pattern. To get started, you stitch a line about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long, then sew the next line about 1/8 to 1/4 away from the first one.
When you’re done, you’ll see a small line, then a space, then the pattern will continue. There is also a double running stitch, which involves going back and sewing in the spaces so that the stitch is a solid line instead of a broken one. Both are considered basic embroidery stitches and actually look the same on the front of the fabric as they do on the back.
If you need to make decorative lines or you need to place lettering on your fabric, the backstitch is a convenient stitch to use. This stitch involves a line, but the stitching is done in a backwards direction from the direction of the line itself. The line will overlap itself on the back part of the fabric. Backstitches are good for using as a basic guide whenever you decide to do satin stitches.
Backstitches are also good for making monogrammed ornaments, banners, and even donuts made out of felt or other thick type of fabric.
5. Chain Stitch
Chain stitches look like small connected loops of thread, and you can use either a straight or a curved line to complete the project. If you want to make various shapes, such as flowers or leaves, you can make them much easier with the chain stitch. To start the stitch, bring the needle up through the fabric and let the thread remain loose. Then, bring it back through the same hole, and you’ll notice it’s made a loop.
At the top part of the loop, you’ll bring the needle through the fabric in front of the loop, then do the same thing again. What you’ll see then is a line of loops connected together, but you can also use this stitch to make flowers. Instead of lining up the loops in a straight line, you’ll place them next to each other until they make a circle.
When you finish with one loop, put the needle through the backside of the fabric near the top of the loop, then bring it down immediately on the other side of the thread. This final stitch “cements” the petals and holds the petal in place. It also allows you to move onto the next petal.
6. French Knot
Okay, this one isn’t so much a stitch as it is a knot, but you’ll find it very useful with all types of embroidery patterns. Many people consider it a difficult stitch to learn, but it only involves taking the thread and wrapping it around your needle as you stitch. As a result, there is a large knot that sits on the top of the fabric.
You can use the French knots to add some oomph to various patterns. One of the ways it’s used most is to make eyes on characters or animals. It also gives the pattern a little texture, which is perfect for lots of different projects.
To start, you pull up your thread through the back of the fabric, then wrap the needle up to 3 times once it’s pulled through the fabric. After the needle is wrapped, you place the tip of the needle in the same location you started the stitch with, and once it’s pulled through it makes a small knot. Make sure you don’t wrap the thread around the needle too many times because it might be too thick to get through the fabric.
7. Fly Stitch
The fly stitch can be done several ways, depending on if you want a “U,” “V,” or “Y” shape when you’re finished. This is a decorative stitch that you can work either in rows or a single stitch. If you want to create things such as ferns or branches, the fly stitch is perfect!
You’ll start by bringing up the needle from underneath the fabric, letting it “hang” there as a loose loop, then bring the needle up again through the fabric, making the stitch as tight or as loose as you want it to be. For instance, a “Y” will require a tighter stitch than a “U,” since the U has more space in between the two sides of the design.
If you make a U, make sure you “cement” the stitch by bringing up the needle on one side of the bottom part, then placing the needle down on the other side so the floss is tight. If you make a Y, you’ll bring the thread down in a line to make the tail of the letter. It sounds like a complicated stitch, but once you start working it, you’ll realize how simple it really is.
8. Satin Stitch
The satin stitch is a common one and is considered one of the most-used basic embroidery stitches. This stitch involves using lots of straight stitches to fill in a circle, star, or some other shape. When you’re finished with the stitch, the shape has a satin-like look, hence the name. It is one of the easiest stitches to learn because you’re basically just making lots of vertical or horizontal lines to create some texture.
When you’re creating this stitch, make sure the lines are close to one another so that no holes are left when you’re finished. The result should be a “full” design that is also straight and neat.
Time to Try Some Advanced Embroidery Stitches
Now that we’ve gone over the types of embroidery stitches considered simple to learn, let’s take a look at some of the unique ones available. You’ll likely not find these stitches difficult to do, but they still have a fancy look once you’re done, so they have a more “advanced” look than the others.
1. Backstitch Trellis
Yes, this stitch does look like a trellis when it’s finished. It consists of lots of vertical and horizontal lines that look like you created a bunch of tic-tac-toe boards right next to one another. You’ll simply use the backstitch to create some vertical lines, then some horizontal lines, and you can make them as big or as small as you like. You can either stitch the horizontal lines over your vertical ones, or vice versa. It doesn’t really matter, as long the stitches are neat and even.
2. Stem Stitch
This is another stitch that involves a little practice, but once you learn it you’ll find it’s very versatile. Perfect for outlines that have a little texture, the stitch starts when you bring the needle from the back of the fabric to the front, then you bring it down about 1/4 inch away, keeping the stitch in a straight line. Next, you’ll bring up the needle from the back of the fabric, and the needle will land somewhere in between where your stitch started and where it ended.
With the stem stitch, you’ll want to pull the thread frequently so the design is taut, but make sure there are no loose or sloppy parts of the stitch first. If you don’t check for loose thread, you may end up with a knot in a location where a knot isn’t supposed to be!
3. Feather Stitch
Perfect for borders and frames, these stitches look like sideways “V’s” that are connected together. You’ll make each V the way you normally do when making the fly stitch, but you’ll layer the letters then connect them to the next V with a stitch such as a backstitch. When they’re finished, they almost look like a flock of geese flying in the air, and they are perfect for making things such as foliage, scales, feathers, or even seaweed.
4. Woven Wheel Stitch
If you picture a round design that looks like a small textured flower, this is what a woven wheel stitch does best. All you have to do is start by making a star, then weave the thread again and again so that the design starts to have a textured, thick look. With this stitch, you have a lot of leeway because as long as the thread is woven close to one another, you’ll eventually have a design or shape that is filled in perfectly. With a little practice, the woven wheel stitch can become second nature.
5. Couching Stitch
The couching stitch is perfect for creating an outline or filling in an area. You can also use it with more than just embroidery floss, including yarn and even ribbon. The stitches can be straight or curved, but you’ll use two threads of different lengths. One of those threads stays on the top of the fabric, and you’ll use the other one to tack the threads down so they’ll stay on the fabric. It’s an attractive and very interesting stitch that you’ll love once you get used to it.
Embroidery Stitches Can be Simple? Tips to Help You Become an Embroidery Expert
Embroidery takes practice, but there are also things you can do to create more perfect stitches every time you sit down with your needle and thread. These include the following tips:
1. Don’t Pull the Thread Too Tight
While you never want your thread to be too loose, making it too tight can cause a lot of problems. When you first get started, practice each stitch without making them too tight. They need to be taut but not so stiff you can’t work with them. But don’t worry because this is easier to do than you think.
2. Overlap Each of Your Stitches
With many stitches, you’ll want to overlap them so you don’t get holes or spaces in your design. Overlapping your stitches also gives the design more texture and a fuller look, creating a 3D look in the end. Many embroidery stitches require overlapping, so you might as well get used to doing this.
3. Practice Using Different Numbers of Thread
When you embroider a project, you can use one to three strands of thread, sometimes more. When you’re just getting started, practice with different numbers so you can get a feel for each of them, and so you can see what each combination looks like.
4. Be Careful With the Fabric You Use
Never use fabric that isn’t made specifically for embroidery projects. Of course, there are a lot of different fabrics you can choose for embroidery, so you’ll certainly never get bored. These include linen, Kona cotton, cottonvill, and even cotton muslin fabric. It’s good to experiment with each of these types of fabric, but you still have to make sure you’re using something made for embroidery projects.
There are more types of embroidery stitches than most people realize, but it’s smart to learn the very basic ones first. Doing this can make learning the more complicated ones feel like they’re easy to do. Fortunately, you can go a long time without having to learn these complicated stitches because there are literally hundreds of projects that only require the basic embroidery stitches and nothing else.
Even better, the fabric and floss are incredibly inexpensive and easy to find, so if you decide you want to make embroidery your next hobby, you can do so without breaking the bank. This is a fun hobby that, above all else, helps you relax and learn to concentrate better, among other perks.