Stem Stitch Embroidery: Everything You Need to Know About It

Look at the interesting effects you can make using variations of stem stitch embroidery. 

Stem stitch embroidery is one of the simplest and most basic hand embroideries. It has the potential to add outlines to your work. You can also choose stem stitch embroidery to write creative messages.

Stem stitch is also popular as crewel stitch. It boasts of a stunning rope-like textured appearance that can suit creating beautiful patterns or outlining embroidery pieces.

Do you want to create an interesting effect on your embroidery pieces? Just grab your different colors of embroidery floss and get ready to learn about stem stitch embroidery.

In this article, we have covered everything you need to know about stem stitch embroidery. From the basics of stem stitch embroidery to its variations and step-by-step instructions, you will find everything you need to beautify your embroidery design.

Ready to explore? Let’s start. 

Introduction to Stem Stitch Embroidery

Before we jump to the embroidery stem stitch tutorial, it’s essential to know the basics of stem stitch embroidery. 

What is Stem Stitch Embroidery?

If you are wondering, “what is a stem stitch in embroidery?” Here is the answer.

Stem stitch embroidery is a traditional method of embroidery that uses a sturdy thread, or “stem,” to create an outline

Effective ways on how to embroider by hand
Image Source: Pinterest

It’s used to create designs and patterns that are smaller than the fabric area they’re working on. You can also use a different kind of embroidery thread, like floss or cotton.

The stitch is worked all along one side of the embroidery fabric and starts with a small loop. The loop is then worked back and forth, creating the outline of your design. 

It’s similar to backstitch, but instead of starting and ending every stitch at the beginning and end of a line. It starts and ends every other stitch—making it look more like lace than backstitch.

Embroidery stem stitches by hand look great for adding texture to your work. It allows you to create decorative patterns using just two or three different stitches. 

Stem stitch embroidery is also known as “slash” or “French” embroidery, depending on whether it’s worked from right to left or left to right. 

It’s similar in appearance to cross-stitch but with a few important differences: there’s no backstitch or overcast stitch (you’ll see what those are later). Instead, you’ll use short lengths of thread in the same color as your base fabric and apply them one at a time. 

When to Use Stem Stitch Embroidery?

Stem Stitch Embroidery is a type of embroidery that uses a series of short stitches to create a line or shape. It can be used to enhance a project with texture, or it can be used to create a patterned design. 

In this section, we will discuss stem stitch embroidery and how you can use it to your advantage.

In the past, the embroidery stitches stem stitch technique was used to decorate clothing, but today it’s most commonly used for making flowers and other plant-like motifs. It’s also used for creating decorative borders on quilts and scarves. 

Many people use this technique because it requires very little equipment: only needles and thread. 

Stem stitch embroidery is often used with other types of embroidery, such as running, cross stitch, satin stitch embroidery, and chain stitch embroidery

The stem stitch can be worked in many different ways and can be used on a variety of materials, including linen, wool, cotton, silk, or even leather.

Stem stitch embroidery is used in all kinds of industries, from clothing to furniture to medical applications. It is a versatile stitch and can be used for a variety of different purposes.

Stem stitch embroidery is commonly used in dressmaking because it allows for precise details faster than other types of embroidery. It is also useful when working with fine fabrics like silk, satin, or velvet.

Stem stitch can be used alone or combined with other techniques like running or cross stitch to create decorative patterns on garments such as blouses and dresses. It is most commonly seen in stitching embroidery flowers onto hats and corsets. It is the best embroidery stitch for flower stems.

It can be used for men’s and women’s clothing but is reserved for more formal wear. It can also be used on leather products like wallets or purses, but these items tend to be more expensive because they require more labor. 

Embroidery stitches stem can also be used in medical settings as part of patient gowns and other medical equipment that needs to be sterile-looking but still looks pleasant enough that patients can feel great. 

The opportunities are endless when it comes to using stem stitch embroidery. Use your creativity and create a unique embroidery piece at home. 

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Superlabel store custom labels
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Tutorial on How to Do Stem Stitch Embroidery

So you’ve got your embroidery sewing machine, and you’re thinking about how to do stem stitch embroidery.

Stem stitch in embroidery is a simple way to create a wide variety of designs, from simple outlines to intricate patterns. This hand embroidery is a fun way to add a pop of color and texture to your embroidery designs.

Stem stitch
Image Source: Pumora

You just need to know the basics of both machine embroidery and cross-stitch. It’s also one of the easiest types of embroidery to learn. 

The most crucial thing to remember when doing stem stitch embroidery step by step is to keep your stitches small, even, and tight. This will give you a clean look that matches the fabric’s texture. 

It’s great for making a custom-looking garment or for making something that looks a little bit more professional.

Stem stitch embroidery works best when used on thick fabrics or pieces where you want a lot of coverage, like decorative pillows. It can also be used for quilting on small projects. 

This tutorial will show you how to do the stem stitch in embroidery and make them look great! 

Supplies You’ll Need

Stem stitch embroidery is a great way to add some flair to your stitching. It’s a suitable method for adding little details and details that are easily lost in other stitches, like stem stitches.

Supply embroidery
Image Source: Pam Ash Designs

The stem stitch embroidery technique involves working two or more stitches together at the same time. Don’t forget to read our comparison of cross stitch vs. embroidery. 

The first stitch is worked over two or more threads of fabric, and the second stitch is worked over one thread. Because the threads are worked in different directions, it creates a look that looks like hair has been woven into your fabric. 

To get started with the “How to do stem stitch embroidery” tutorial, you’ll need a few embroidery supplies: 

    • Threads
      • You will need several colors of thread for stem stitch embroidery patterns. If you’re new to this technique, start with just a couple of colors and see how it goes. 
      • You may have no problem finishing off your first project with just one or two colors!
    • Fabric
      • You’ll also need something to work on—something sturdy enough to withstand all the stress of working through multiple layers (and tearing).
    • Embroidery Floss
      • This is the traditional material used for stem stitch embroidery designs. It comes in a variety of colors and textures, which you can combine to create an even more unique look. Make sure you purchase six to eight different colors for this project.
    • Scissors
      • You will need embroidery scissors to cut your threads before starting a new project or color scheme. 
      • Try to find an embroidery scissor that fits your hand and won’t slip out of place while you work on an intricate pattern. 

Learn How Do You Do a Stem Stitch in Embroidery

A stem stitch is one of the easiest stitches to learn, and it’s a great place to begin if you are new to embroidery.

Needle with blue thread and fabric
Image Source: Crewel Ghoul

In this section, we will help you answer your most challenging question ‘how do you do a stem stitch in embroidery?” This will also help you master stem stitch embroidery at home. 

Choose a thread color that matches your fabric. The first step of the embroidery stem stitch step-by-step guide is to thread the embroidery needle with the chosen thread and embroidery hoop. Tie a knot at the end of the thread, so that it won’t come loose when you stitch.

Keep your fabric on a flat surface and ensure it’s free of wrinkles and creases, or else they will appear in your embroidery. If needed, iron the fabric to get rid of wrinkles and creases. 

To begin the stem stitch embroidery how-to tutorial, start at one corner of your design area. Hold the needle with one hand and pull the thread through with the other hand until there is enough slack in the thread that you can use both hands for stitching.

Starting stem stitch
Image Source: Embroidery for Beginners 

With both hands holding onto the thread and needle, begin stitching by using one hand to move the needle from side to side while using the other hand to pull up more slack from behind it.

Before moving forward for embroidery stem stitch instructions, ensure your first hand’s movement is towards another line of stitches or backstitch. This motion will produce a zigzag shape across your design area as you work outwards from where you started stitching. 

When finished with this step of the embroidery stem stitch how-to tutorial, you should tie off any excess thread.

Now pick up another stitch about ¼ inch away from where your previous stitch ended. This will form a small space between each individual stem.

Once again, insert from back to front, pulling through until there’s about an inch remaining on either side.

To finish off your “how to do stem stitch in embroidery” tutorial, repeat these steps until you’ve reached your desired length or width—and voila! You’ve mastered the best embroidery stitches for stems and leaves. 

Stem stitch circle
Image Source: Needle N Thread

Top 4 Embroidery Stem Stitch Variations

Now that you have finished your “how to stem stitch embroidery” tutorial, it’s time to level up. 

A stem embroidery stitch is a type of embroidery that uses a series of stem stitches to create an outline around a textural pattern. Once you know “how to do a stem stitch embroidery,” you can use it for monochrome and color patterns

Embroidery stem stitch variations
Image Source: Pinterest

It is also perfect for filling small spaces without adding bulk or weight to your piece.

There are many variations of this basic technique—each with its special designs. They can be combined in any way you like to create unique patterns or compositions. 

It’s also a great way to practice your embroidery skills on free embroidery designs and get some practice with colorwork, as well. 

What if you want to try something new? What if you want to try a stem stitch rose embroidery pattern that’s somewhat different from the one you’re used to? Or maybe you want to try working on a more complicated pattern?

With this guide, we’ll show different embroidery stem stitch variations—and why they might be the perfect choice for your embroidery ideas

Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch

The Portuguese knotted stem stitch is a decorative stitch that can be used to create long, flowering stems. These embroidery stitches for stems are an easy way to add a touch of elegance to your embroidery patterns by creating a thick, lustrous line.

Knotted stem stitch
Image Source: Butternut Plaid

It is an excellent choice for beginners because it’s easy to learn and comes with a wide variety of possibilities. 

The stitch is simple and can be completed in any amount of time depending on how many knots you want to add to your project.

To do a Portuguese knotted stem stitch, you will need to work on a small number of stitches into a larger number of stitches in two passes. 

You start by knitting into the front and back of each stitch from left to right as if you were making an ordinary knit stitch. After completing this pass, you pick up the next stitch on the left needle and stitch/knit it. 

This creates one loop with 14 embroidery stitches on your needle. Next, you complete another loop by picking up two more stitches as if to purl them together but instead skipping them and adding them to your existing 14-stitch loop. This creates three loops with 16 stitches on your needle.

Stem stitch embroidery
Image Source: Create Whimsy

At last, you need to repeat this process again with two loops: four loops with 18 stitches on your needle. The result? A lacy look! 

Raised Stem Stitch

The raised stem stitch is a common and popular youtube embroidery stem stitch, which can add texture and interest to your embroidery work.

It’s also a great stem stitch variation to practice as you learn how to do a stem stitch in embroidery. The raised stem stitch looks like a large, open “V” shape with one long vertical line across the middle. 

It is perfect for stitching on thick or bulky edges, like collars and cuffs. 

Double Stem Stitch

Double stem stitch embroidery is a decorative stitch that can be used in a variety of ways. It’s popular for embellishing clothing and other apparel, but it can also be used to create borders or other embroidery design elements.

Embroidery stitches stem
Image Source: Pinterest 

If you know how to do embroidery stem stitch, double stem stitch will be easy.

The double stem stitch creates two lines of chain stitches between each pair of stitches. 

This results in a thicker line that looks like a double stem or multiple stems connected together at their base. Stitches are worked in pairs and take the form of two parallel lines. Each one is offset by the other. 

Whipped Stem Stitch

A whipped stem stitch is a type of decorative stitch used to make ruffles, hem stitches, and other decorative elements. It is made by taking a running stitch and pulling the needle up through the fabric where you want the folds to be. 

Whipped stem stitch
Image Source: Embroidery for Beginners

You pull the thread back down through the fabric again in order to make your stitches look like they are “whips” or on the move! 

All About Stem Stitch Embroidery Letters

Stem stitch embroidery letters are a great way to add subtle, colorful details to any project. These embroidery letters are a great option for beginners and experienced stitchers alike. 

They’re not as difficult as some other stitches, but they do require patience and practice to master.

Split stitch stem stitch
Image Source: Peacock & Fig

The stem stitch can be used in many different ways, but it’s best known for its use on clothing and textiles. It’s also a good choice for decorative stitching on paper or fabric.

If you’re looking for new ways to personalize your wardrobe, then this section is for you! 

Ways to Use

Stitching letters onto garments is a great way to express yourself and make an impression on the world around you. But what does it take to stitch letters? Let’s find out!

First, decide what kind of lettering style you want. Many different styles are available, from script letters to block letters and everything in between. You may also want to consider whether or not you want your lettering to have a color or not. 

The letter n in raised stem stitch
Image Source: Dicraft

It can be done either way, but if you want to color, then choose a color that compliments your outfit (for example, red with black clothing). Then decide what size of stitches will work best with your chosen font style and size of the text. 

Some people prefer large blocks of text, while others prefer smaller pieces of text closer together. Decide whether or not you want any extra embellishments, such as borders or outlines. 

Tips for Working With Stem Stitch Embroidery

Working with stem stitch embroidery letters is a great way to add a personal touch to your embroidery project. 

If you are not familiar with the method or have never tried it before, there are some tips & tricks that can help you get started.

How to do stem stitch embroidery
Image Source: Pinterest 

Let’s look at some quick tips:

    • If you’ve never used this stitch before, try using it on something simple like a shirt or hat. It looks great under all kinds of different fabric types and styles, so give it a go!
    • If you want to jazz up your clothing but don’t have much time, try embroidering over solid colors instead of coordinating ones like reds and blues (and be sure not to use too many colors at once). This way, there’ll be less work involved when it comes time for photo shoots (or Instagram posts)!
    • Make sure that your thread is tensioned in a proper way and that it’s not too loose or too tight. It should be just right!
    • Make sure your letter is at least ¼ inch tall. This will ensure that the area of the letter where the stem stitch is placed is large enough to be recognizable.
    • Use a hoop or frame, so your fabric doesn’t get stretched out while working on it.
    • Use a thin needle for the thread.             

Hand Embroidery Stem Stitch: FAQs

Hand stem stitch embroidery is a centuries-old hand embroidery method that uses a needle to create delicate, intricate designs on cloth and other materials.

Hand embroidery stem stitch
Image Source: Pinterest

Do you still have queries related to this beautiful embroidery? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here is the list of additional answers for stem stitch embroidery. 

Why Should I Choose Stem Stitch Embroidery?

Hand embroidery stem stitch is a great choice if you want to create beautiful, intricate patterns that will stand out from the crowd. It is also fun to make your handiwork look more professional and polished. 

Does Stem Stitch Embroidery Last Longer Than Other Embroideries?

Stem stitch embroidery is an embroidery technique that requires less fabric and is faster than other methods of embroidery. It is also less prone to wear and tear, so that it can be used for longer periods without damage. 

How Long Does It Take to Learn Stem Stitch Embroidery?

Learning stem stitch embroidery takes some time and practice. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature! You will be stitching like a pro in no time flat! 

What Kind of Fabric Should I Use for Stem Stitch Embroidery?

The stem stitch works well on almost any kind of fabric. It looks best on woven fabric with lots of texture. If you are using loose woven fabric or one with little visual interest, try using a thicker thread or multiple strands of floss to compensate for the lack of texture. 

What Size Needle Should I Use for Stem Stitch Embroidery?

We recommend using a size 24 needle for your stem stitch embroidery projects. 

How to make a stem stitch embroidery tutorial
Image Source: Pop Shop America


Stem stitch embroidery is used to create a design on a piece of fabric. It is a simple way to add depth and texture to your work. You can use this technique to create any pattern you want, from simple outlines to detailed images.

Stem stitch embroidery can be used in various ways and is a great choice for a beginner. It’s easy to learn, requires minimal equipment, and looks great when done correctly. 

It’s an old technique, but it’s still used today in many different places. If you’re looking for an easy way to add decorative embellishments to your projects, the stem stitch is a great choice!

If you’re a beginner looking for embroidery machines, then don’t forget to read our top picks in the “Embroidery machine for beginners” article.

Happy embroidery!