Welcome to my very first embroidery tutorial, where I will share with you 5 different stitches to help you get started with hand embroidery! The straight stitch, the running stitch, the backstitch, the split stitch, and the stem stitch. They are basic embroidery stitches, and the best ones to learn first as a beginner. Used in nearly all surface embroidery techniques, they also form the bases of more advanced stitches and are frequently used in hand-sewing.
Without further ado, let’s dive in to the tutorial! You will need basic embroidery supplies, and you can find more information on that here.
Cut a piece of embroidery floss about the length of your forearm and thread your needle. You can use as many strands of the floss as you want for practicing these stitches – I used three. Leave a tail of about 3-4” hanging. Knot the end of the longer length or secure your thread with one of these methods. Often, knots are not always the best way to start and finish embroidery, but for the purpose of practicing these stitches, they’re perfectly fine. Place your fabric in the embroidery hoop, tightening the screw until the fabric is nice and taut. I suggest adding a few pencil guidelines to practice lines of stitching.
1. The Straight Stitch
Bring your needle up from the back of the hooped fabric to form point A.
Decide on the length of your stitch and direction of your stitch, and bring your needle down in point B, forming a straight line.
And voilà, you’ve done the straight stitch! It’s pretty straightforward and might seem overly basic, but it’s a very useful stitch for making short, continuous lines to add details. Creating small motifs with the straight stitch also works really well too (like blades of grass or a leaf, for example).
2. The Running Stitch
If you sew, you’ve no doubt had to baste something by hand at some point. In which case, you already know how to do a running stitch! They’re pretty much the same thing.
Bring your needle up from the back, pulling all the way, to form point A. Then bring your needle down in B, and back up in C, down in D and back up in E, without pulling the thread yet. You’re essentially “loading” your needle with stitches before pulling through to stitch faster.
When you pull through, you will have nice straight stitches from A-B and C-D. If you use a longer needle you can take even more stitches before pulling! Repeat as many times as needed to get a continuous line.
3. The Backstitch
One of the most common outline stitches, the backstitch can be used to embroider just about anything. Frequently used in cross-stitch as well, to add outlines and details, it’s one of the most useful stitches out there!
Bring your threaded needle up from the back at point A and back down again in B, forming a small straight stitch.
Bring your needle up from the back again in C, at a distance that equals the size of the first stitch. Go back down again in B, through the same hole (this will make the stitches look neater and better connected).
Repeat to get a nice continuous line, always going down into the previous hole.
4. The Stem Stitch
The stem stitch is a variation of the backstitch. The needle also comes back up at the end of the previous stitch, but you do so while holding the working thread to form a loop.
Bring your needle up at point A and back down at point B, but before you pull all the way through to make a straight stitch, bring your needle back up at point C. That should be right between points A and B.
Once you’ve pulled that stitch flat, your working thread will be coming up right beside the stitch. To work the next stitch, bring the needle down at point D, and back up again at point B, coming up through the same hole.
Keep the working thread below the stitching line. If you keep it above, the stitching line, it will have a slightly different look and becomes an outline stitch.
Repeat the previous steps to create a continuous line, always going back down at the end of the previous stitch, in the same hole.
5. The Split Stitch
The split stitch is probably my all-time favourite stitch, and I use it everywhere. If I have to outline something, I often chose it over the backstitch, because I find it looks neater and more textured. Also a derivative of the backstitch, it starts off the same way.
Come up from the back in A and down through B to form a small straight stitch.
Bring your needle back up in C, right through the middle of the previous stitch, thus splitting it.
Bring your needle down again in D to form the next stitch.
Repeat the process to get a nice continuous line!
Note: This stitch is easier to work with an even number of strands to create a better “split”.
Don’t you love its braided effect? It’s so pretty.
Now you know how to do the 5 most basic embroidery stitches! I hope you found this tutorial helpful and that you have fun practicing these stitches. Thank you so much for reading, and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any comments or questions. I also have tutorials for the following basic stitches: the chain stitch and lazy-daisy, the French knot, and the satin stitch.