Satin stitch is another basic embroidery stitch that I think every sewist should master. And one I think that everyone can master, as it’s really a very simple stitch. It’s basically just straight stitches repeated closely together to create a dense area of thread. I have a tutorial here that will show you everything you need to know. The result is always beautiful - a smooth, shiny finish that’s really bursting with texture and character. If that’s what you’re after in your piece, then satin stitch is the one to go for! Here I’ve put together a few of my favourite examples of this stitch in action.
1. Text Outlines
If you’ve read my 10 Creative Ways to use French Knots in Embroidery post, you’ll have seen a similar negative space text design. I wanted to include this one still as I think it really shows off not only the beauty of satin stitch, but also of this type of design in general. I especially love the juxtaposition of the negative ‘Nope’ with the bright, beautiful flowers. This is quite a common theme I’ve noticed in a lot of text-based embroidery design and it’s always fun to see!
2. Slinky Sloth
This smiley guy is my Sloth Embroidery Pattern. Although the use of satin stitch is fairly subtle here, I think it makes just the right impact, especially in the face where it really frames his little features. My designs tend to be on the more delicate side, so you won’t really find huge patches of satin stitch, but as you can see here, it can always come in handy in small amounts, too.
3. Satin Stitch Scales
Snakes are known for their smooth, slippery scales. So satin stitch is surely the perfect choice to replicate that feeling in an embroidery, no? This piece certainly uses it to great effect. It’s also further proof that satin stitch doesn’t just have to be used to cover larger sections of your piece – it also works really well in shorter lengths to create a solid covering.
4. Geometry made easy
If you’ve seen many of my designs, you’ll know that I love to stitch animals, so it’s no surprise that I’ve included this brilliant bear! I think it’s a great example for showing two of the best uses of satin stitch – creating sharp shapes and covering a lot of space. It really does feel like the ideal stitch for a geometric design like this. Using a large amount of back stitch, for example, wouldn’t have the same sleek effect.
5. Topographic Shapes
Despite all that talk of sharp edges and shapes, you can totally use satin stitch to create fluid designs, too. You can really feel a sense of movement in this topographic piece, reflecting the rolling hills and mountains that inspired it. This same idea could definitely be transferred to ocean inspired pieces, using the curved lines to create waves, and colour changes to reflect differences in depths. The blues in this piece definitely make me think of that, even if these lines are land-based.
6. Next-level Portraits
The artist behind @seaofdoom is best known for incredible artworks that take inspiration from the dark side. Think bats, wolves, cockroaches and snakes… They’re all amazing examples of satin stitch and I was about to choose one of them when I came across this commissioned Elton John piece. I mean, come on! Aside from being an awesome example of how satin stitch can be used to cover large spaces of block colour as well as for finer work such as facial features, I also just think it’s ridiculously cool. Do check out the rest of the account to see their usual style, too!
7. Simple Shapes
On the other scale of complexity compared to that amazing portrait are these lovely simple shapes. Proof that you don’t always have to make something super difficult in order to get a great result. This type of abstract art is a fun one to try if you don’t have a particular design in mind. You can just start stitching and see what happens, changing shapes and colours as you feel. A great creative exercise for your head and your hands! Doing it in a satin stitch will also add a lovely sheen than will mean you get something different in different lights. If you click through to the original post, you’ll see a video that showcases exactly what I mean.
8. Delicate Feathers
This Swallow Embroidery Pattern is another one of my designs. I wanted to include it because I think it’s another fun example of a minimal touch of satin stitch that has a big impact. It also shows how it can be used to create delicate shapes with finer features and not just big blocks. I feel like it adds just the right amount of power to these feathers without overwhelming the overall design. If you wanted to use this same shape to create some more densely packed plumage, I think repeating them closer together in different colours would produce a beautiful result.
9. Text Take 2
This lovely block text has a beautiful shine to it and the sheer amount of stitching that’s gone into it gives it a thickness that makes it really stand out from the backing fabric. Another way to use satin stitch to make a bold statement. I love that it’s been put onto a banner too rather than kept in a hoop. It really takes it to a new level in terms of design and impact. I also just love that Talking Heads song, so putting this piece in the list was a no brainer! I’ve written about hoop choice and banners in more detail here, and also sell embroidery banner kits here if you’re interested!
10. Plush Petals
What a striking but simple way to create a gorgeous floral design. Using just one colour, the thickness of the satin stitch here creates an amazing amount of texture and adds depth to help the final result. It really feels like it could be layers of petals. This for me is also another great example how you can use satin stitch to cover a lot of space - here we see a really small piece filled quickly and effectively with a punch of bold colour with really minimal effort. An added bonus is that the centre is a lovely example of French knots! This would be a brilliant one for beginner embroiderers who want to practice these two stitches without lots of colour changes.
After seeing all these amazing examples, I’m sure you’ll agree that, whether you choose to go big or small, satin stitch can have a beautiful impact on your embroidered piece. Do you have a favourite design out of this inspiring selection? Let me know in the comments below!