Hand Embroidery Stitches

During embroidery classes, I’m often asked which embroidery stitch is my favourite. The answer is always back stitch because it’s practical and decorative, that doesn’t mean that I don’t use a variety of stitches in my work.

“You don’t need to know hundreds of stitches. But you need to use the ones you do know well!”

Constance Howard, textile art pioneer

I always tell my students that you don’t need to be a walking stitch glossary, if you learn between eight and ten stitches really well you can create lots of exciting embroideries. I’ve been embroidering for over thirty years and I know ten stitches really well, these are the stitches in use in my work and teach in some of my classes…

Running stitch, back stitch, stem stitch, chain stitch, blanket stitch, feather stitch, satin stitch, lazy daisy, French knots and seed stitch. Once you have learned the basics of these stitches you can start to experiment with different ways of using them, you can find out more in my blog post Stitches: New Approaches. You can purchase my instant access embroidery class in partnership with Workshop here, in this class I cover the basics of hand embroidery and guide you through each stitch.

I thought I’d share the stitches I’ve been using on my latest project to give you an idea of how to use the stitches that you have learned in a project.

Satin stitch has been used to create the trunk of this tree, I’ve used cotton perle thread to create this and all the stitching on this piece. The plants have been done using lazy daisy or detached chain stitch. I paired it with some simple lines of straight stitching. Finally, the bushes have been created using French knots, I worked lots of the really close together to create a dense texture, they also work well with spacing in between on a textured background fabric.