Welcome to another hand embroidery stitch tutorial! Today, we will be looking at the satin stitch, one of the most popular stitches used in hand embroidery. If you’re new to hand embroidery, this is definitely a great stitch to learn and start practicing!
To begin, you will need basic embroidery supplies: a piece of fabric (just a scrap is perfect for practicing), embroidery scissors, embroidery needle, hoop, and some floss of your choice. I will be using 3 strands of DMC #741 for this tutorial.
If you’d like more information on basic embroidery supplies, you can have a look at this post.
Once your fabric is sitting drum tight in the hoop and your needle is loaded, you will be ready to begin. The satin stitch is a filling stitch, intended to fully cover various shapes. I highly recommend starting with an easy one, like a square or a rectangle.
You will definitely want to draw this shape on the fabric to give you some guidelines. Use a pencil or water-soluble pen (or other marking tool if you prefer). I will be filling in a rectangle, which I drew on my fabric in pencil. I’m using 3 strands here, but you can use as many or as few as you want. The more strands you use, the “chunkier” it will look and the fewer strands you use, the more blended it will look. Keep in mind that using more strands makes it a bit harder for the stitches to lay very flat since the strands tend to twist on themselves. Using few threads takes longer to fill, but we’re in no rush!
To secure your thread, you can use a knot if you’re just practicing. If you’re working on a project, you might want to start with anchoring stitches or a waste knot instead. I wrote a full post on how to begin & end your stitches if you need extra help.
Satin Stitch Tutorial
Normally with the satin stitch, you want to begin in the middle of your shape (with a square or a rectangle that doesn’t matter as much since the shape is the same all around). This is because it’s a stitch that closely follows the shape you’re filling and it’s often easier to begin in the middle than at the edge.
- Bring your needle up from the back at point A and go back down in B, forming a straight stitch. You can choose to work horizontally or vertically depending on what you prefer and the shape that you’re filling.
2. Choose to fill either the left or right side first. Here, I will be doing the left. Bring your needle up again at point C, directly beside point A, and go back down in D. You should now have two straight stitches laying side by side.
3. Continue in the same way until half of the shape is fully covered. Stitches should be nice and tight, one directly beside each other without overlapping or splitting, following the shape you’re filling. With a rectangle, each stitch should be exactly the same length, starting and ending right beside each other. Be careful not to pull too hard, or it will distort the shape. The stitches should just be laying on the fabric, tight against each other but not tightly pulled. You will definitely want your fabric held taught in the hoop.
Ideally, you also always want to work each stitch in the same direction. I prefer to work this stitch vertically from bottom to top, so I always start each stitch at the bottom edge and work upwards. But you can do the opposite, or work horizontally from left to right or vice versa. Sometimes it will also depend on what kind of shape you’re working with.
4. Once the first half is done, you can secure your thread and cut it to start anew, or simply drag it behind the stitches you’ve already lain to fill the other half.
Fill the second half just as you’ve done the first, working in the same direction!
Filling a Shape With an Outline
Filling stitches often benefit from having the shape stitched with an outline first. Here I drew a crescent shape onto my fabric and outlined it with a splitstitch.
This will help to give me a nicer edge, especially at the points. Each stitch begins and ends right outside of this splitstitch edge, covering it entirely.
Another thing I like to do that I find really helpful, is to place guiding stitches along the way and fill small areas at a time. In other words, I place stitches to split the area in smaller and smaller halves, and then fill them in. This is especially helpful to keep a shape like a crescent.
When you get to the small points, take your time to make very small stitches that are still straight and flat.
Satin Stitch Pumpkin
While I was preparing this tutorial, I started embroidering a little pumpkin in this style and found it was a really great shape for practicing the satin stitch. I’ve been seeing a lot of them all over my Instagram and they’re really cute, though not exactly my normal stitching style. I tend to favour just an outline or the long & short stitch for filling my designs, but I decided to give this look a try and rather like the result! I couldn’t leave it at just the satin stitch though, so I added a backstitch outline all around it to give it more dimension (and hide my uneven satin stitch hahahaha!!). This outline was added after the satin stitch filling. I outlined the pumpkin with splitstitch first, then satin stitched to cover that outline. The backstitch was added last, as a finishing touch.
Here is the mini-pattern I used, if you fancy practicing your satin stitch and you’re still in the mood for some fall stitching! I’m terrible at drawing anything directly on fabric and like a good pattern for everything, so here’s this sweet pumpkin I made:
Feel free to print it if you want to use it, and let’s see that satin stitch! 😊
I hope you found this tutorial helpful, and as always don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions!