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My Three Favorite Embroidery Stitches and How to Create Them

When it comes to embroidery there are hundreds upon hundreds of different stitches you could use. While some stitches are unique and some stitches are variations on others, each stitch offers a distinctive textural aspect to any design. Needless to say, with all these stitch options, the choices can be overwhelming.

While I enjoy expanding my embroidery skill set, I definitely don't know all the different embroidery stitches out there. And bravo if you do! I try to learn a few new stitches every year.

In my day to day embroidery practice, I often stick with a handful of stitches. These are stitches I've come to rely on. Even though I only use a small portion of the stitch possibilities available, I find that there is so much you can do with each stitch to create texture, depth, color, and design.

So here are my top three favorite embroidery stitches and how to create them. I hope you learn something new and give these stitches a try!

Reverse Chain Stitch

If you've taken an embroidery workshop from me, then you've probably heard me say that the reverse chain stitch is my favorite embroidery stitch. I love the chunkiness of this stitch and the fact that it can stand alone as a single chain or be grouped together to look like a cozy knit sweater.

How to create the Reverse Chain Stitch:

The reverse chain stitch creates a looped line, similar to a bracelet. Start by bringing your needle through the fabric, from the back to the front. Make a short straight stitch. Next, leave a space and bring your needle up through the fabric a short distance away from the end of the first stitch. Then, pass the needle under the first straight stitch. Pull the thread all the way though and bring your needle back down where you started this stitch. This should look like a link attached to the short stitch. Continue adding more links to the chain by bringing your needle underneath the last stitch you created. Be sure to bring the needle under both threads in the link.

Stem Stitch

The stem stitch is a stitch I use often when outlining elements and creating plant stems. I love that this stitch hugs curves and that the stitch wraps around itself to give that extra level of detail to any line.

How to create the Stem Stitch:

To start, bring your needle up through the fabric, where you would like the stem stitch to start. Then go back down through the fabric about one stitches length. Before pulling the thread taught to the fabric, hold it off to one side so that you can see the space in between where you came up and down through the fabric. Next, bring your needle up through the fabric in between where the tread is going in and out of the fabric. Let go of the thread you are holding off to the side and gently tug the fabric. To add the next stem stitch, hold the thread off to the side, and bring the needle back down into the fabric. Bring your needle back up in-between where the tread is going in and out of the fabric. Be sure your thread is always held off to the same side each time.

Long and Short Satin Stitch

While the long and short satin stitch might sound a little basic, I love the versatility this stitch has to offer. From filling in large sections to blending colors, this stitch is a champ!

How to create the Long and Short Satin Stitch:

Start by making one straight stitch. Next, bring your needle up again next to the starting point of the stitch you just made. Now make one straight stitch that is shorter or longer than the previous stitch. Continue filling in the section horizontally with vertical stitches. Keep the stitches close together to fill the space. When adding in the next row of long and short satin stitches, the row should start away from the one you just stitched and be connected by bringing your needle down slightly into the end of the previous stitch. This slight overlap helps blend the sections.


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