From basic embroidery stitches to an embroidery circle stitch—you’ll find everything you need to know to get your embroidery party started in this guide.
Read to find out the types of embroidery stitches and how to put them into practice in your gorgeous projects to come.
But before we get there, in case you miss embroidery fundamentals, here are some handy concepts to grasp before you start:
- embroidery supplies, such as:
- embroidery floss—a special kind of embroidery thread, loosely twisted, slightly glossy 6-strand thread, usually made of cotton but can also be manufactured in silk, linen, and rayon. (We write about the types of cotton fabric here);
- embroidery hoop, and
- embroidery needle;
2. embroidery patterns (available to download from the embroidery library), and
3. more fantastic embroidery ideas;
Ready to dive into our embroidery stitch guide? Let’s go!
Different types of embroidery stitches
For starters, stitches created with the embroidery machine or embroidery sewing machine and those produced through hand embroidery aren’t the same.
When it comes to different types of stitches embroidery machines offer, according to Mr X Stitch, there’s only one stitch:
“Your most amazing standard embroidery machine makes the same interlock stitch that any sewing machine has since the refined straight stitch machine,”
—claims the author.
This single stitch—a line leading from point to point—is the building block for everything we make later.
Mr X Stitch underlines that this basic collection of embroidery machine stitches built on the multiplication of a single stitch differs significantly from the “wizardry of knots, loops, and woven stitches” used in hand stitching.
Image source: Art News
Machine embroidery techniques
In modern machine embroidery (to find trustworthy models check out the Brother embroidery machine), single stitches in basic combinations come together to form complex elements.
There are three most common easy embroidery stitches in machine embroidery:
- straight stitch,
- satin stitch (also known as column stitch),
- fill stitch (also goes by the name of ceding stitch or Tatami stitch);
Let’s see in detail what they refer to:
|Type of stitch||Description||What we use it for|
It’s a line of repeated single stitches. Stitch length changes the design and enables diverse effects:
You can also differentiate the number of passes you make over an element—to create thicker or thinner lines.
We typically use this stitch in
|Satin stitch (column stitch)||
Satin stitches are created by tracking back and forth over a narrow area, interchanging between an angled stitch and a straight stitch. The satin stitch has a shiny finish thanks to the unbroken, long threads in those straight passes.
Machines won’t execute satins over 12mm in width without slowing. Also, very long stitches embroidered on garments tend to become loose, loopy, and snag.
These simple embroidery stitches are used to create
|Fill stitch (ceding stitch, Tatami stitch)||
This stitch comprises lines of straight stitches, typically worked closely with each other to cover the ground surface completely. We can alternate its density using various effects.
To alter this stitch, change the spacing and alignment of its stitch penetrations and stitch length to create various textures.
We typically use this stitch to cover extensive areas in a design—their flat look and less sheen than in a satin stitch help easily fill a more extensive area.
We also avoid the rippled texture typical for areas filled with overlapped satins using this stitch.
It’s funny that, according to Prodigitise, running stitch is considered the simplest and, at the same time, the most creative stitch.
Read more about these three stitches on Mr X Stitch.
In the video “What are the Different Types of Embroidery Stitches: Machine Embroidery Stitches Explained,” Ashley not only puts knowledge about the main embroidery machine stitches plainly but also adds a few other stitches, such as blanket stitch, zig-zag stitch, bean stitch, and sketch stitch. Have a look at this brief guide:
The secret to mastering your machine embroidery is tackling how stitch types are constructed and why they look in a certain way.
It gives you the power to find your unique expression in a thread—points out Mr X Stitch.
So, gather the information you need to make novel combinations of stitches using their one-of-a-kind properties for your creations.
- get to know the stitch, the thread,
- explore the substrates, their combinations, and the way they interact,
and open the door to purposeful machine embroidery, where all embroidery ideas are within your reach;
Hand embroidery stitches
If you want to spread your wings in stitching and embroidery, hand embroidery offers a multitude of options to play with.
HandiWorks YouTube channel will lure you by these 50 hand embroidery stitches they share. It is a pretty satisfying number of alternatives for the beginning.
So, check out this embroidery stitches tutorial (marked as “for beginners”) to grasp the diversity of hand embroidery stitches waiting to be discovered:
Another goody waiting to come to light is the Super Label Store’s offer.
You can learn all hand embroidery stitches in the world, but if you miss the opportunity to boost the appeal of your projects with these:
you may overlook a vital chance to stand out.
Everyone who wants to customize their textile, clothing, towels, sheets, or accessories will benefit from Super Label Store‘s woven labels,
- from DIY/clothing crafters at home
- textile/sewing fanatics,
- (small/starting) clothing brands, and
- fashion designers,
- to managers and owners of hotels, bars, and hospitality businesses;
Embroidery stitches for beginners
Let’s start our journey through hand embroidery stitches from the beginning.
According to Pumora, there are easily over 300 hand embroidery stitches.
But that’s not all. You can diversify each of these stitches in width and length and pick various materials—these factors will influence the final look of your project.
So multiply 300 by…infinity—and you’ll see that embroidery is a bottomless pit for creativity.
Image source: Stitch Doodles
The Pumora authors name 14 examples that novices can grasp without much effort when it comes to basic hand embroidery stitches. We use these embroidery stitches in many embroidery stitch patterns. Mastering them means being able to stitch the majority of projects.
Learn these 14 embroidery stitches, and soon, you will be able to stitch everything you can imagine!
Read about “The Top 8 Different Types Of Embroidery Stitches You Need To Know” on Bags of Love.
Image source: Craftsy
Having down five stitches is enough to do fancy embroidery you won’t be ashamed of:
- two stitches for lines and letters,
- one stitch for filling, and
- two specialty stitches
and you are on your way to embroidery mastery.
Stitches are divided into families; the “head” of each stitch family is the stitch you want to learn as a beginner. (Read also “Embroidery for Beginners – how to embroider by hand” by Pumora here)
As one would expect, all stitches in a stitch family share a specific feature, although they may look different at first blush.
Let’s have a brief look at simple embroidery stitches:
|Name of the stitch||Description|
It’s the most basic and the simplest up-and-down-motion embroidery stitch that, at the same time, enables you to achieve the most intriguing patterns or minimalistic line stitching; it is used as the main embroidery stitch for Japanese Sashiko embroidery and numerous darning techniques.
How to make embroidery stitches that belong to this category? Here’s a little Pumora tutorial you should check out.
This neat and versatile stitch is probably the most popular for hand embroidery among beginners. The backstitch is worked from right to left and always stitches backward to the previous stitch.
If you are still not sure how to approach a backstitch in embroidery, here’s a step-by-step embroidery stitches explanation on Crafts Tutsplus.
|Chain stitch||You can use the chain stitch as a line stitch or an embroidery filler for entire areas of fabric. It’s easy to substitute a backstitch with a chain stitch in most line stitching patterns. The chain stitch is worked in loops; they are later secured by the next loop or a stitch.|
The hand embroidery stitches mentioned above are the most elementary and commonly used options.
If you are among beginners, check out also our blogs:
- embroidery kit,
- embroidery fabric, and
- free embroidery designs (among the most popular: embroidery flowers, such as sunflower embroidery or rose embroidery, and butterfly embroidery);
Which is your favorite, running stitch, backstitch, or chain stitch?
If it’s what we think, tackle “How to Do a Chain Stitch” with this short video tutorial by Cutesy Crafts:
But it was just the beginning of all the stitching options! Let’s move to the following embroidery stitches names:
|Name of the stitch||Description|
|Stem stitch||This type of embroidery stitch design resembles a rope. Thanks to the slanting segments, this stitch blends the single stitches into a smoother line (in backstitch or chain stitch, there are more distinct segments). Stem stitch is worked from left to right; the individual stitches are longer and worked offset to the previous one.|
|French knots||Welcome to the knotted stitches family! You’ll often use French knots to accentuate parts of embroidery. They form a highly textured surface if you cloud them together but will also look awesomely scattered around. So how do you make a French knot? First, wrap the thread around an embroidery needle a couple of times. Then, insert it into the fabric slightly on the side where the thread exits the fabric. Here’s a step-by-step basic embroidery stitches tutorial on Pumora.|
|Satin stitch||A satin stitch in hand embroidery is typically used as a fill stitch. Among different embroidery stitches, this one owes its name to the smooth surface similar to the surface of the satin fabric. To put embroidery satin stitch in practice, set up multiple stitches parallel to each other along with the shape you want to fill out.|
It wouldn’t hurt to look at some embroidery stitches’ names with pictures, would it?
Read the article “Outline Stitch vs. Stem Stitch” on The Spruce Crafts and view the image below to grasp the appearance of stem stitch.
Image source: The Spruce Crafts
We are almost in the middle of the list of basic stitches, but the complete list of embroidery stitches options is way longer.
Just have a look at the “Lexicon of embroidery stitches” published on YouTube on the Pumora channel. It’s already challenging to scroll the list of titles to the end, not to mention getting to know them all by heart!
Getting back to types of embroidery stitches with names, let’s see where the embroidery stitch guide for beginners takes us next.
The following stitches aren’t yet necessary to learn if you are still a novice in the embroidery department.
But they are in the first ten, so it’s undoubtedly worth checking them out:
|Name of the stitch||Description|
The herringbone stitch is a crossed stitch typically used to fill areas with a low amount of waste yarn in the back. Make sets of two stitches work so that they cross at the top and bottom of the line.
According to Wandering Threads Embroidery, you should first bring a needle and contrasting color thread up at the start of the line of stitches. Then, thread the needle under the first stitch from right to left without going through the fabric. Finally, twist the thread over the top of the first crossed section and then back under the next diagonal stitch.
Check the complete “Herringbone Stitch Embroidery Tutorial” on Wandering Threads Embroidery.
This stitch is suitable for hemming blanket edges. It’s worked from left to right (picture two parallel lines and stitch loops from the bottom line to the top).
Here’s how to do a blanket stitch embroidery following instructions by Sarah from Embroidery Rock Sea.
Are you eager to make this breathtaking flower embroidery pattern you’ve dreamed about for so long and don’t know how? Then, tackle the feather stitch to practice your most elaborate ideas. Feather stitch is one of the decorative embroidery stitches with a long tradition in plant embroidery. Just think about it: Who doesn’t love embroidery flowers?
It helps you mimic different twigs, leaves, or water plants. It’s worked from the top down in loops that hold each other. Unlike in a chain stitch, you go left and right instead of a continuous line in a feather stitch.
If we got your creative juices flowing, you need to stay with us to learn more!
Image source: YouTube
This part of hand embroidery stitches for beginners isn’t that basic and essential anymore. Here are the tenth, eleventh, and more stitches mentioned on Pumora:
|Name of the stitch||Description|
This type of stitch is a cross-over between embroidery and weaving. Embroidery and weaving are two different ways of putting a design onto a piece of fabric (read our take on embroidery on canvas).
Let’s first differentiate these two terms:
The needle weaving technique offers many variations in weaving the threads. A popular one is a woven rose or woven spider wheel. Check “How to do Woven Spider Wheel” on Embroidery RockSea.
|Cross stitch||Most of us tried it at school. “Cross stitch” is also commonly used to refer to the more general term “hand embroidery.” Cross stitches are sets of two stitches worked across each other. They can be used in counted embroidery or spread freely.|
|Fly stitch||If you are looking for a way to illustrate scales, birds flying that seem to be at a distance, or other half-circle or oval-shaped items, you need a detached stitch such as a fly stitch. The connected version works excellently also for twigs or flower stems with tiny leaves. This stitch is worked from the top down, and you should make wide-open loops. Then, secure each one individually with a longer stitch.|
Read “How to stitch: Fly stitch” on Elara Embroidery and get inspired by the image below:
Image source: Elara Embroidery
Pumora mentions two more stitching options:
- Couching, where a surface material—be it dried flower stems, feathers, metallic threads or wire, wooden sticks, fluffy, thick, thin, or loopy yarn, or just embroidery floss—is attached to the fabric with a thread; and
- Straight stitch—we could compare straight stitch to a simple line you draw with a pencil. However, you can arrange this line to your needs greatly by choosing its length, etc.; All in all, the straight stitch can become everything you want it to be!
Image source: Super Prof
Since it will be such a blast for our future creations, let’s pause for a moment to discuss straight stitch embroidery in detail.
The Pumora‘s tutorial “7 days of stitches: straight stitch” describes how to tackle this matter in simple steps:
- First, stick the needle in your embroidery fabric where you want your stitch to end, and then,
- go up to where you want the next stitch to appear.
That would be it when it comes to steps. Two. In total.
Image source: Pumora
Remember that you don’t need to use straight stitches in a geometric pattern. You can utilize them to create any pattern that comes to your mind.
According to Craftsy’s article “The Top 10 Hand Embroidery Stitches Every Beginner Should Learn,” there are a few other essential embroidery stitches to get familiar with, such as:
- Split stitch
This stitch resembles the backstitch because it creates a solid line, but its braided texture is all its own. (see the picture below)
You can utilize this stitch for
- text and
- outlines, or
- for filling in designs;
Image source: Craftsy
How to make it happen?
First, pull your needle and floss up through the fabric to create one straight stitch.
Now, having your embroidery needle and floss on the underside of your hoop, bring the needle up through the center of the stitch you have just created.
Stitch forward the same length as your initial stitch.
Continue by bringing the needle up through the center of each stitch.
See what it looks like in pictures on Lilipopo.
Image source: Lilipopo
To tackle the process perfectly, have a look at “Embroidery: How to Splitstitch” by our fellow embroiderer Wendi Gratz:
The second stitch mentioned by Craftsy that we haven’t yet talked about is called
- Lazy daisy
Isn’t it a charming way to name s stitch? This stitch is a variation of a chain stitch, and it’s often also referred to as the “detached chain stitch.” We mentioned this stitch briefly before, under the name “fly stitch.” Let’s now have a more in-depth look at it.
With this option, instead of continuing the chain stitch, you make a small stitch just over the end of the loop to create what looks like a daisy petal.
You can make a lazy daisy stitch flower with as many petals as you wish (4, 5, 6, 8, or more)—writes Blog Treasurie.
Similarly to making a chain stitch, you start by taking a needle and embroidery floss and creating a stitch.
But, before you pull the floss all the way through the fabric, let it form a loop. Bring your embroidery needle up through that loop 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.
Image source: Pinterest
The process is explained wonderfully with pictures on Blog Treasurie in the article “Lazy Daisy Stitch | Beginner Embroidery Flowers.”
Also, click to check out embroidery flowers and flower embroidery pattern.
Lazy daisy stitch gives you a lot of creative options. Check out this article on Penguin and Fish website containing
- embroidery how-to,
- a quick video, and
- a step-by-step guide
to gain mastery of lazy daisy embroidery.
Image source: Penguin and Fish
Another stitch belonging to the group of essential embroidery stitches that beginners will be glad to discover is
- Seed stitch
Seed stitch looks like a result of “tossing the contents of a seed packet into the air and watching the seeds fall randomly on the ground,”—explained the authors of the Craftsy article.
Seed stitch works excellent as a filler stitch.
Image source: Pamash Designs
And here’s how to seed stitch:
Bring the embroidery needle and floss up through the fabric (get familiar also with types of fabric and types of clothes) to create a short, straight stitch.
Then, bring the needle and floss up again through the embroidery fabric but at a different angle. Repeat until you have filled a specific area.
Depending on the space you establish between your seed stitches, you can create
- a wide fill or
- layers of embroidery floss that seem to have dimension;
Watch the tutorial “How to do the Seed Stitch” by Cutesy Crafts:
Advanced types of embroidery stitches
Is there any embroiderer who knows all hand embroidery stitches?
We mentioned earlier that there are over 300 hand embroidery stitches, so it’s hard to imagine someone who knows them all. Moreover, many knotted embroidery stitches in hand embroidery are challenging to make and remember. Take, for instance, a plaited braid stitch.
Image source: Threads Across the Web
Other stitches require a lot of attention because you weave up or down at certain areas and intertwine threads, as in the interlaced herringbone stitch.
Check out the list of tutorial videos explaining hand embroidery stitches “Lexicon of embroidery stitches” to learn:
- Breton stitch,
- Ceylon stitch,
- Rice stitch,
- Double Chevron stitch,
- Vandyke stitch,
- Crow’s foot embroidery stitch,
- Paris stitch,
- Sun wheel embroidery stitch,
- Bokhara couching stitch,
- Padded satin stitch, and many others;
To give you a taste of the “Lexicon of embroidery stitches,” here’s a “Sheaf stitch tutorial” to check out:
Click on YouTube to discover the entire e-collection of elaborate stitches you can try out in your projects.
These stitches are more complicated than the previous, basic ones we mentioned, but don’t get discouraged. Remember: “You never know until you have tried” and “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
So gather your embroidery supplies, watch the best tutorials, and repeat what you see. There are 116 videos published on Pumora channel on YouTube, and their number is growing, so there is a lot to practice with!
Image source: Stitch Doodles
Let’s look at the list of “11 Amazing Embroidery Stitches For Advanced Embroiderers” on Sewing to get even more inspired.
Looking for “Embroidery Stitches That Will Bring out the Best in You”? Why not try these:
- Tiger Face Embroidery Stitch Pattern,
- Cathedral Window Pattern,
- Floral Stained Glass Pattern,
- Oscar’s Bouquet Pillowcase,
- Beaver Softie Kit,
- Coloris Kaleidoscope Embroidery Stitch Pattern,
- Rooster Pattern,
- Rabbit in a Garden Pattern,
- Celtic Inspired Embroidery Stitches,
- Cat Silhouette,
- Violinist Wall Quilt;
Image source: Pinterest