Top 10 Must-Know Hand Embroidery Stitches

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We’re sending a big thank you to embellished jeans and cheeky throw pillows for making embroidery the newest crafty comeback! Want in? These ten stitches will get you started. Plus, they're a great foundation for when you're ready to take your hoop to the next level.

10 best hand embroidery stitches

1. Running stitch

Not to be confused with the running man, the running stitch offers a quick way to outline a design. There are two methods you can use.

The first is similar to hand sewing: You simply push the needle and floss in and over the fabric in one continuous motion.

The second method is literally pushing the needle through the fabric and pulling it back up, which is called the “punch and poke” or “stabbing” method. (It's not violent, though, promise!)

2. Backstitch

The backstitch is great when you need a solid line, like for certain outlines or text.

Begin by pulling the needle and floss up through the fabric and do one stitch forward. From underneath, space the needle out the length of your desired stitch, pull up through the fabric, and bring the needle and floss back down through the end of the previous stitch.

3. Split stitch

Similar to the backstitch, the split stitch creates a solid line. But its braid-like texture is all its own. This stitch is another good option for text and outlines, but also works well for filling in designs.

To begin, pull your needle and floss up through the fabric and create one straight stitch. With your needle and floss on the underside of your hoop, bring the needle up through the center of the stitch you just created.

Then stitch forward the same length as your initial stitch. Repeat by bringing the needle up through the center of each stitch.

4. Stem stitch

The stitch got its name — you guessed it — from being used to create flower stems and vines. But it's a nice option for anything that needs to curve.

Similar to the split stitch, start by creating one straight stitch forward. Then bring the needle and floss up underneath the fabric, but instead of going through the center of this initial stitch, bring the needle up just to the side of the stitch.

5. Satin stitch

This option's smooth appearance makes it perfect for filling in designs like hearts or the leaves of flowers.

First, draw out the shape you're trying to fill to use as a guide.

Take your needle and floss and create one stitch that extends from one end of the shape to the other.

Bring the needle up again just next to the opposite side of the initial stitch. Keep the stitches close to one another, as required to fill the pattern or design you are working with.  

6. French knots

This decorative stitch makes a pretty accent design or filler.

You’ll have to use two hands to create the French knot. First, bring the needle and floss up through the fabric.

Then wrap the floss around the needle twice.

Hold the end of the floss taut and bring the needle down just next to the space where it came out through.

Keep holding the floss taut as you pull the needle through. You can vary the size of your French knots by wrapping the floss around the needle anywhere between one and three times.

7. Chain stitch

This stitch may look complicated but, with some practice, you'll get it! It's another one that's great for an outline or the frame around a patterned design.

Pull your needle and floss up through the fabric, then insert it going down right beside where you first inserted it.

Don't pull the floss all the way through the fabric; allow it to form a loop. Bring the needle up through that loop in order to tether it from being pulled all the way through the fabric and pull.

To make the next chain stitch, place the needle either directly in the hole you just stitched, or close to it, and pull through to create another loop.

Again, don't pull the floss completely through the fabric. Pull the needle up through the loop to tether it and pull.

Repeat the steps to continue the chain. When you reach the end of the chain, simply create a small stitch over the loop to secure it.

8. Lazy daisy

This is a version of the chain stitch often referred to as the "detached chain stitch" or "lazy daisy." Instead of continuing the chain, you make a small stitch just over the end of the loop to create what looks like a daisy petal.

Just like the chain stitch, take your needle and floss and create a stitch, but before you pull the floss all the way through the fabric, allow it to form a loop. Bring the needle up through that loop in order to tether it from being pulled all the way through the fabric.

Create a small stitch over the top of the loop. Space out the next loop or use the stitch to create a daisy. Continue as desired.

9. Feather stitch

Another variation of a chain stitch is the feather stitch, which uses the second stitch to anchor the loop of the previous one. This particular chain variation is better when you want to cover more space.

Bring the needle and floss up through the fabric and create a straight stitch, but don’t pull the floss all the way through. Allow a loop to form and bring the needle up through that loop.

Space the next stitch over in the opposite direction from the previous stitch. Create another loop by not allowing the floss to go completely through the fabric. Pull the needle up through the loop and repeat on the opposite side.

10. Seed stitch

Imagine tossing the contents of a seed packet into the air and watching the seeds fall randomly on the ground. That same concept applies here, and it's a great filler stitch.

Bring the needle and floss up through the fabric and create a straight stitch. Bring the needle and floss up through the fabric again in a different angle. Continue until you have a filled area. Depending how close or far you space out your seed stitch, you can create a wide fill or layers of floss that appear to have dimension.

Consider your stitch fix fulfilled!

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