Embroidery Stitching Full Guide

by Sammy Bishop

Welcome to the Stitch Guide section of Paraffle!

This corner of the website is here to teach you new stitches and techniques, taking you from a starter to a pro in no time! Whichever level you start from, this step-by-step guide of embroidery stitches is here to help at every stage. 

If you're wondering what you need before you start stitching, check out my Ultimate Beginners' Guide to embroidery here.

Once you have your materials - and your pattern is on your fabric - you're ready to get started!

Starting Off

First things first: starting off your embroidery.

As with many aspects of embroidery, there's a few ways to do this - and none of them are wrong!

My favourite method is to use 2 strands from a skein of thread, and to tie a simple knot in one end. There's a brief tutorial on how to do this here.

A floral embroidery design stencilled onto navy blue fabric, and two hands knotting a piece of thread

Embroidery Stitches

It can be hard to know which embroidery stitches to learn first - there's so many to choose from!

I've separated this list of embroidery stitches into different uses - creating lines, flowers, and other effects. Each one is labelled with a difficulty level, so you can choose which level you want to start with!

Lines

Stitches to create lines are perhaps the best to start with. It's easy to create all sorts of designs with just a few simple stitches!

Back Stitch

Two rows of embroidered back stitch in red thread on a white background

Back Stitch is my preferred method of creating simple lines. It starts off with a single stitch - then just doubles back on itself (hence the name!) to create a continuous line. Stitch lengths can be easily altered depending on the shape you want to create - so it's easy to achieve curvy lines, too!

Stem Stitch

Two rows of embroidered stem stitch on a white background

Stem stitch is great for creating a more textured line. The stitches are done on a slight diagonal and overlap a tiny bit each time. Like Back Stitch, it works for both straight and curvy lines - so it's perfect for outlines, or for stitching plant and flower stems. 

Chain Stitch

Two rows of embroidered chain stitch in teal thread on a white background

Chain Stitch is my favourite stitch for making bolder, thicker lines. It's made up of connected loops (or chains), which give a textured, raised effect on the fabric. It works well on both curved and straight lines, and variations of it are used in lots of other stitches - so it's a great one to learn when you're just starting out!

Flowers and Plants

Once you've mastered embroidering lines and outlines, try out some floral effects! Stem Stitch (above) is perfect for plant stems - and the stitches below are great for stitching simple flowers.

Six-Point Stars

Six embroidered star stitches in yellow thread on a white background

Six-Point Stars are perhaps the easiest of all flower stitches. They're made up of three single stitches, crossed over on a centre point. I like using these to fill small spaces, or to frame more intricate stitches.

Lazy Daisy Stitch

Three embroidered daisy stitches in pink thread on a white backgroun

Lazy Daisy Stitch is my favourite way to create flowers. Each petal is made of a single detached Chain Stitch (see above) - and the thread lies on top of the fabric, creating a more textured effect.

Filler Stitches & Other Effects

Satin Stitch

Blue embroidered satin stitch on a plain background

Satin Stitch is a gorgeous filler stitch in hand embroidery. The trick to it is making sure that the stitches are all parallel - this lets them create a shiny, glossy effect that can really show off vibrant thread colours!

French Knots

Embroidered French Knots in blue and green on a white background

French Knots are my favourite stitch for creating a touchable, bobbly effect, for things such as cherry blossom or animal fur. They can be really tricky to master - but once you get the hang of them, they're a great stitch! My trick is to make sure the thread is pulled tight, halfway through creating the knot (check out the video) - and plenty of practice!

Finishing Off

Backing with Felt

My favourite way to finish off embroidery is to back it with felt.

The felt covers the (very) messy back of the embroidery; and at the same time, it helps to keep your embroidered fabric at the front really tight, too!

I use a simple whipped stitch to attach felt to the back of my embroidery - and have created a tutorial to show you each stage of the process, too!

An embroidery hoop backed with turquoise felt

Sammy Bishop

Founder & Owner of Paraffle

Sammy set up Paraffle as a side-venture in 2017 whilst she was doing her PhD at Edinburgh University. After finishing her PhD in Religious Studies (specifically Hinduisim and the New Age movement of Tantra), running Paraffle has become her full time hobby and job!

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