15 Stitches Every Embroiderer Should Know

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    Top 15 Stitches in Hand Embroidery

    15 Hand Embroidery Stitches
    Mollie Johanson

    Learning hand embroidery is both fun and relaxing, plus it's an easy way to create beautiful art with fabric and thread. Getting started in embroidery may seem intimidating at first, but most patterns only require a few basic stitches. 

    Whether you're a new stitcher or an advanced beginner, if you learn these 15 essential stitches, you'll be ready to tackle just about any embroidery project that comes your way!

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  • 02 of 16

    Back Stitch

    Back Stitch Example
    Back Stitch Example. © Mollie Johanson

    This basic stitch is likely to be the stitch you'll use the most. Back stitch is useful for any kind of outlining, but it's also a stitch that pairs well with other stitches, making it a key stitch to learn.

    Back stitch is so easy to learn that you'll have it down within the first few stitches. It's also easy to embellish with with weaving or wrapping, and quickly transforms into the more decorative pekinese stitch

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  • 03 of 16

    Running Stitch

    Running Stitch Examples
    Running Stitch Examples. © Mollie Johanson

    Running stitch is a simple embroidery stitch that is good for making dashed outlines and adding details to your embroidery. It's also the basis for Japanese sashiko embroidery. 

    Although basic, it's adaptable and can become complex. For example, you can change the look just by adjusting the length and spacing or adding a second row of stitches between the first. It's also another stitch that works well with weaving and wrapping

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  • 04 of 16

    Straight Stitch

    Straight Stitch Examples
    Straight Stitch Examples. © Mollie Johanson

    This stitch hardly requires any explanation, because a straight stitch is as simple as bringing the needle up through the fabric and then going back down. But it's worth exploring the many uses for this building block embroidery stitch. 

    Straight stitches form stars, scattered fills, textures and more.

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  • 05 of 16

    French Knot

    French Knot Example
    French Knot Example. Mollie Johanson

    For many stitchers, the French knot remains a challenge. While it may take time to learn, it's worth the effort. Not only is this a common stitch to find in embroidery patterns, it's also a good stitch to use when making a textured fill or other design elements. 

    This stitch involves wrapping the needle to form a knot on the surface of the fabric. The trick to making French knots is to hold the working thread taut, but not too tight. Give it some practice!

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  • 06 of 16

    Stem Stitch

    Stem Stitch Example
    Stem Stitch Example. Mollie Johanson

    Stem stitch is another basic stitch that's perfect for creating smooth outlines. It works well for both straight lines and curves, and despite its name, isn't only for embroidering stems. Use stem stitch on just about any lines in your stitching.

    Like so many stitches, you can adjust the width of stem stitching or use it for fill stitching. Just try to keep your stitch length consistent for a beautiful result!

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  • 07 of 16

    Chain Stitch

    Chain Stitch Example
    Chain Stitch Example. Mollie Johanson

    If you want a bolder line of embroidery, this is the stitch for you! Chain stitch forms a row of linked stitches that really stands out. 

    There are several ways to work chain stitch and it's a good idea to at least learn how to work it forward and in reverse. Once you have those mastered, try some of the other variations!

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  • 08 of 16

    Satin Stitch

    Satin Stitch Example
    Satin Stitch Example. © Mollie Johanson

    One of the most classic embroidery stitches for filling an area is the basic satin stitch. There are a few variations, but at its essence, satin stitch is just a series of straight stitches worked next to each other. What could be simpler? 

    The secret to making those straight stitches turn into something special is in practicing the length and proximity of the stitches. The result is a filled shape that is simply stunning!

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  • 09 of 16

    Feather Stitch

    Feather Stitch Example
    Feather Stitch Example. Mollie Johanson

    Feather stitch is a linked stitch that creates open lines that almost look like they're moving. It's perfect for making frames and borders, and it works well layered or embellished with other stitches too. 

    The look of feather stitch makes it good for stitching seaweed, feathers or scales, and the variations make it possible to embroider a multitude of natural designs.

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  • 10 of 16

    Split Stitch

    Split Stitch Example
    Split Stitch Example. © Mollie Johanson, Licensed to About.com

    Want another stitch option for making outlines? Try split stitch! The process for working split stitch is similar to working back stitch, but upside down. In fact, the back of your work will end up looking like the front of back stitch.

    Use this stitch, which is made by piercing or splitting the previous stitch, for working strong and slightly textured lines of embroidery.

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  • 11 of 16

    Detached Chain Stitch

    Single Chain Stitch Sample
    Single Chain Stitch Sample. Mollie Johanson

    A detached chain stitch, sometimes referred to as a single chain, is a common stitch for making flowers, leaves and more. This stitch is worked like standard chain stitch, but with just one "link."

    Detached chain stitch is what makes lazy daisy flowers, which are typically formed with five of six of these stitches.

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  • 12 of 16

    Fly Stitch

    Fly Stitch Examples
    Fly Stitch Examples. © Mollie Johanson

    This stitch is worked similar to a detached chain stitch, but rather than making a petal or teardrop shape, fly stitch forms a V shape or sometimes a soft curve.

    Try fly stitch in a row, scattered as fill, stitched in a radius or plenty of other variations.

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  • 13 of 16

    Woven Wheel Stitch

    Woven Wheel Stitch Examples
    Woven Wheel Stitch Examples. © Mollie Johanson

    Woven wheel stitch looks like a more advanced embroidery stitch, but it's actually quite simple. Start with a star of straight stitches and then weave the working thread to form a flower. Soon you have a stitch that will fill your hoop with amazing florals!

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  • 14 of 16

    Couching Stitch

    Couching Examples
    Couching Examples. © Mollie Johanson, Licensed to About.com

    Although not always included in lists of stitches for beginners, couching stitch is an embroidery method that everyone should know. This stitch uses two lengths of thread at one time. One remains on the surface of the fabric, while the other holds it in place with tacking stitches.

    Use this stitch for making outlines and creating texture. It even works with ribbon, yarn and other materials!

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    Blanket Stitch

    Blanket Stitch Example
    Blanket Stitch Example. Mollie Johanson

    Starting blanket stitch is usually the trickiest part, but once you start, it's so easy to do. Use this stitch to make borders and decorative lines or as an edge for applique within your embroidery. 

    Add variation to the stitch by adjusting the spacing and height of the stitches!

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  • 16 of 16

    Bullion Knot

    Finished Bullion Rose
    Finished Bullion Rose. © Mollie Johanson, Licensed to About.com

    Definitely the most advanced stitch on this list, bullion knots are not for the faint of heart. But they are a stitch you should learn! Think of them as a really long french knot that can make gorgeous roses. Practice making them small and then start making them bigger. You'll be glad to know this one.