Learn 21 embroidery stitches with our handy guide then practice your new skills with either our free, firework inspired, embriodery pattern or Liz Stiglet’s cultivate kindness hoop art. Then, once you’ve finished your masterpieces, share them with us on Instagram using our top embroidery hashtags blog post and, of course, #molliemakers!
For more embroidery stitches and techniques follow our sewing, stitching and embroidery Pinterest board.
This stitch is ideal for outlines, and it’s the one you’ll find you use the most. Come up from the back at point 1, then go down at point 2. Come up at point 3, then go back to point 1 and bring the needle through to the back.
Back Stitch Trellis
Worked in backstitch, this trellis is great for filling an area. Try stitching it on a diagonal for a true trellis look. Stitch a set of parallel lines of backstitch, keeping the stitch length as consistent as possible. Stitch another set of parallel lines of backstitch, perpendicular to the first, and with the ends of the stitches intersecting.
Blanket Stitch (surface)
This is fun for decorative stitching or appliqué. Try to keep the spacing and stitch height consistent… or change it up to create a pattern! Come up at point 1. Go down at point 2 and come back up at point 3, keeping the needle over the working thread. Pull the thread to create a right angle.
They are tricky at first, but with a little practice, bullion knots are useful for creating texture and beautiful flowers in your embroidery. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2 and back up at point 1, keeping the needle through the fabric. Wrap the needle until the wrapping is as long as the space between points 1 and 2. If you don’t want the knot to lay flat against the fabric, wrap it a little more. Holding the wrapping with your non-dominant hand, carefully pull the needle through the wrapped thread. Go down at point 2 and pull the thread until the stitch lays well.
This simple method of chain stitching is worked in reverse. It’s great for adding texture to your projects. Make a small straight stitch. Come up at point 1, slide the needle under the small straight stitch, then go down at point 1. Come up at point 2, slide the needle under the previous stitch, then go down at point 2.
If you find French knots tricky then try this alternative for creating eyes and other dotted details. Come up at point 1, form a backwards C with the thread and place your needle over the C. Wrap the thread over and then under the point of the needle. While holding the working thread taut, bring the needle down at point 2 (next to point 1, but not the same hole) and pull slowly until the knot is formed.
This is a stitch that everyone should learn, because it’s so useful. The secret is to hold the working thread taut while you pull it through. Come up at point 1, then wrap the thread around the needle twice. Holding the working thread with your non-dominant hand, bring the needle down at point 2 (close to point 1, but not the same hole) and pull slowly until the knot is formed.
This simple stitch can be worked as individual stitches or in a line. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2, leaving the thread loose. Come up at point 3, catching the loop of thread, then pull to form a ‘V’. Go down at point 4.
This stitch is useful for stitching seam openings closed as it creates a nearly invisible line of stitching! Use this version when the two sides of the seam are held together.
Bring the needle out about 0.5mm below the fold on the inside of one side of the seam. On the opposite side of the seam, directly across from where the thread came out, go in at point 1 and back out at point 2. Go in at point 3 and back out at point 4. Work back and forth on each side of the seam, stitching about .5mm below the fold. Every few stitches, gently pull the thread to tighten the seam.
Usually used for flower petals, this stitch is also ideal for embroidering tiny seeds. Come up at point 1, then go back down at point 1, leaving a small loop. Come up through the loop at point 2, then go down at point 3 (next to point 2, but not the same hole).
To create dimensional flowers, leaves, feathers, and more in your embroidery, picot stitch is the perfect choice. The base is anchored to the fabric, but the rest of the stitch is woven and free from the material.
Place a sewing pin with a large head vertically through the fabric. Bring the needle up at point 1. Bring the working thread behind the head of the pin and go back down at point 2. Come back up at point 3 next to the pin and as centered between points 1 and 2 as possible. Bring the working thread behind the head of the pin then weave the needle under, over, and under the three vertical threads. Push the thread up to the top. Now from the side where the working thread comes out, weave the needle over, under, and over the vertical threads. Repeat, weaving back and forth, snugging the thread to the top each time. When the shape is filled, bring the needle to the back of the fabric.
Similar to a French knot, this stitch resembles the centre of a flower. You can vary the length, but be careful not to make them too long. Come up at point 1, then wrap the thread around the needle two times. Holding the working thread with your non-dominant hand, bring the needle down at point 2. Keep the wrapped thread taut around the needle and close to the fabric, then pull slowly until the knot is formed.
Start with three small parallel stitches to form the centre. Use stem stitch around the centre, working in circles and increasing the stitch length until the rose reaches the desired size. Experiment using materials such as yarn or ribbon.
When you want to fill an area with a smooth finish, this stitch is the ideal choice. It’s best worked in small areas, because if the stitches are too long, they may snag. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2. Come up at point 3, then go down at point 4. Repeat. Always work the stitches across the area you’re filling, coming up on the opposite side where your needle went down.
Similar to a lazy daisy, the scallop stitch makes it easy to add smiles to little stitched creatures. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2, leaving the thread loose. Come up at point 3, catching the loop of thread, then go down at point 4 (next to point 3, but not the same hole).
A great stitch for working outlines. When you make the ‘split’ try to go through the fibres, and not just in between the strands of embroidery thread. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2. Come up at point 3, splitting the previous stitch, then go down at point 4. Repeat.
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Although it can take some practice, stem stitch is great for textured outlines. Come up from the back at point 1, then go down at point 2. Before pulling the stitch close to the fabric, come up at point 3 with the loose thread below the needle. Pull the thread taut, then repeat. Come up from the back at point 1, then go down at point 2. Before pulling the stitch close to the fabric, come up at point 3 with the loose thread below the needle. Pull the thread taut, then repeat.
The simplest of stitches, straight stitch can be grouped together or used alone. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2. Repeat.
This is a great way to embellish a line of backstitch, adding thickness, texture or some extra colour. Start with a line of backstitch. Come up at point 1. Slide the needle under the first backstitch from the top down. Slide the needle under the next stitch from the top down. Repeat. Bring the needle down at point 2 when you reach the end of the line of backstitch.
Whipped Spider Web
True to its name, this stitch does look like a spider web, but it also makes wonderful flower shapes. Start with a base of four crossed stitches, creating eight spokes. Come up close to the center, between two spokes. Slide the needle under spokes 1 and 2 without going through the fabric. Bring the needle over spoke 2, then slide the needle under spokes 2 and 3. Continue around all of the spokes several times until the web is filled.
Woven Wheel Stitch
This woven stitch is easy to work and creates stunning flowers that stand out from the material. It is usually started with five spokes, but can be worked with more, as long as there are an odd number of spokes. For a more dimensional stitch pack the weaving tight. For a more flat and open stitch, keep the woven thread looser.
Using straight stitches of even length, form five spokes of the woven wheel. It should look a bit like a star. Bring the needle up close to the center of the wheel. Pass the needle over one spoke and under the next. Pull the thread through so it is close to the center. Pass the needle over the next spoke and under the one after that. Repeat, weaving the needle over and under the spokes around the wheel. When the wheel is full, bring the needle to the back of the fabric.
Thank you to Mollie Johanson for helping us put together this useful embroidery stitches guide. If you’re in need of some more embroidery projects to use your skills on make sure you subscribe to Mollie Makes.