The Top 10 Hand Embroidery Stitches Every Beginner Should Learn

Colorful embroidered stitches

Send a big thank-you to embellished jeans and cheeky throw pillows for making embroidery the latest crafty comeback. Want in? These 10 embroidery stitches for beginners will get you started, and are a great foundation for taking your hoop to the next level.

Good to Know: To see any of these stitches in action, check out our classes Startup Library: Hand Embroidery and Modern Hand Embroidery.

1. Running Stitch

Yellow running stitch

Not to be confused with the running man, the running stitch offers a quick way to outline a design. There are two methods you can use.

The first is the sewing method: Simply weave the needle and floss through the fabric in one continuous motion to create several stitches at once, as if you were sewing a seam.

The second is the “punch and poke” or “stabbing” method: Push the needle through the fabric to the back, then poke it through to the front a short distance away, creating one stitch at a time.

2. Backstitch

Yellow back stitch

The backstitch is great when you need a solid line, like when you’re creating outlines or hand embroidered letters.

Begin by pulling the needle and floss up through the fabric and do one stitch forward. From underneath, space the needle out the length of your desired stitch, pull up through the fabric, and bring the needle and floss back down through the end of the previous stitch.

3. Split Stitch

Women holding yellow split stitch embroidery

Similar to the backstitch, the split stitch creates a solid line, but its braided texture is all its own. This stitch is another good option for text and outlines, but also works well for filling in designs.

To begin, pull your needle and floss up through the fabric and create one straight stitch. With your needle and floss on the underside of your hoop, bring the needle up through the center of the stitch you just created. Stitch forward the same length as your initial stitch. Repeat by bringing the needle up through the center of each stitch.

4. Stem Stitch

Women holding green stem stitch embroidery

This stitch got its name — you guessed it — from being used to create flower stems and vines. But really, it’s a nice option for anything that needs to curve.

Similar to the split stitch, start by creating one straight stitch forward. Then, bring the needle and floss up underneath the fabric, but instead of going through the center of your initial stitch, go just to the side of the stitch.

5. Satin Stitch

Yellow satin stitch square

When you’re creating hearts or filling in leaves, it’s likely you want the design to have a smooth appearance. That’s where this stitch comes in. It adds a nice raised texture, and gets the job done super fast.

First, draw out the shape you want to fill to use as a guide. With your needle and floss, create one stitch that extends from one end of the shape to the other.

Bring the needle up again just next to the opposite side of the initial stitch. Keep the stitches close to one another, as required to fill the pattern or design you are working with.

6. French Knots

French knot embroidery

This decorative stitch makes a pretty accent design throughout your project, and you’ll even need two hands to pull it off. But don’t worry, it’s not tough! First, bring the needle and floss up through the fabric. Then wrap the floss around the needle twice. Hold the end of the floss taut and bring the needle down just next to the space where it came through the fabric.

Keep holding the floss taut as you pull the needle through. You can vary the size of your French knots by wrapping the floss around the needle anywhere between one and three times.

7. Chain Stitch

Women holding blue chain stitch embroidery

This stitch may look complicated, but with some practice we pinky promise you’ll get it. It’s another one that’s great for an outline, or the frame around a patterned design.

First, pull your needle and floss up through the fabric, then insert it going down right beside where you first came up. Don’t pull the floss all the way through the fabric; allow it to form a loop. Bring the needle up through that loop (this tethers it from being pulled all the way through the fabric) and pull.

To make the next chain stitch, place the needle either directly in the hole you just stitched, or close to it, and pull through to create another loop. Again, don’t pull the floss completely through the fabric. Pull the needle up through the loop to tether it and pull.

Repeat the steps to continue the chain. When you reach the end, create a small stitch over the loop to secure it.

8. Lazy Daisy

Lazy daisy purple embroidery

This variation of the chain stitch is often referred to as the “detached chain stitch” or “lazy daisy.” Why? Instead of continuing the chain, you make a small stitch just over the end of the loop to create what looks like a daisy petal.

Just like the chain stitch, take your needle and floss and create a stitch, but before you pull the floss all the way through the fabric, allow it to form a loop. Bring the needle up through that loop in order 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. Continue as desired.

9. Feather Stitch

Green feather stitch

Another way to riff off the chain stitch is the feather stitch, which uses the second stitch to anchor the loop of the previous one. This particular chain variation works well when you want to cover more space.

Start by bringing the needle and floss up through the fabric and creating a straight stitch. Don’t pull the floss all the way through; allow a loop to form and bring the needle up through that loop.

Space the next stitch over in the opposite direction from the previous stitch. Create another loop by not allowing the floss to go completely through the fabric. Pull the needle up through the loop and repeat on the opposite side.

10. Seed Stitch

Blue seed stitch embroidery

Imagine tossing the contents of a seed packet into the air and watching the seeds fall randomly on the ground. That’s what the seed stitch looks like, and it’s a great filler stitch.

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To do it, bring the needle and floss up through the fabric and create a short, straight stitch. Bring the needle and floss up through the fabric again in a different angle. Continue until you have a filled area. Depending how close or far you space out your seed stitches, you can create a wide fill or layers of floss that appear to have dimension.

Now that you’ve mastered the basics, you’re pretty much ready for anything — including amazing fashion pieces.

Discussion
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81 Responses to “The Top 10 Hand Embroidery Stitches Every Beginner Should Learn”
  1. Jean Delaney
    Jean Delaney

    Thank you for the memories. I can see and her Grandma Dickie, on theliving roon sofa, hoop in hand, patiently showing and talking me through all thise stitches.

    Reply
  2. Candy
    Candy

    Is there a video of this? I’d have a better understanding if I could actually see how it’s done.

    Reply
  3. Kathleen McEnery
    Kathleen McEnery

    If I could get a printable copy of 10 embroidery stitches everyone should know that would be wonderful!

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Carolyn,

      You can print directly off of our website. If you right click with your mouse on your browser you can get the option to print.

      If you have any other questions, please email or call Customer Service.

      Thanks,
      Sarah

      Reply
  4. Maria Diaz
    Maria Diaz

    Very informative and great instructions. I haven’t done embroidery in years, and would be interested in starting again. Would be great to have a printable copy, how can I obtain? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hello Diane,

      You can sign up for a membership which would give you access to over 1,500 classes, otherwise all classes are available to own for purchase. There is a Get Access/Purchase To Own button on every class.

      If you have any other questions, please email or call Customer Service.

      Thanks,
      Sarah

      Reply
  5. Irene
    Irene

    This is a good refresher on embroidery which I have not done in years. Thanks. Please send it to my email so I can print it off.

    Reply
  6. Shirley-Mae Davis
    Shirley-Mae Davis

    Will you please send this to my e-mail so I can print it off. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hello Pat,

      You can print directly off of our website. If you right click with your mouse on your browser you can get the option to print.

      If you have any other questions, please email or call Customer Service.

      Thanks,
      Sarah

      Reply
  7. Teressa
    Teressa

    I like the satin stitch. It’s a wonderful way to fix a small hole in an item. Without it being noticed.

    Reply
  8. colas
    colas

    I THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR PATTERNS AND LESSONS THAT WE ENJOY A LOT AND ALLOW US TO WORK AT HOME IN FULL JOY.
    CATHERINE COLAS AND JOEL LAJOYE

    Reply
  9. Tribe D
    Tribe D

    Thanks for such an amazing blog and very help full for the embroidery designs I saw cartoon embroidery designs in different styles your Embroidery style is a unique way, and the same pattern use in Digit IT please visit this site hope you gain great knowledge of Embroidery Digitizing relates.

    Reply
  10. Veronica Dunkley
    Veronica Dunkley

    Ilove to do embroidery, when I was a young girl,I forget the stitches them .I would like to teach the girls I work with now how to do these stiches.can someone send me how to do them please.thank u in advance.

    Reply
  11. Nira
    Nira

    It’s years since I did any embroidery. Thank you for reminding me. The Split stitch, the feather stitch and the Seed stitch are new to me. I’ll definitely try them out.

    Reply
  12. Margaret Flinders
    Margaret Flinders

    Used to do a lot of embroidery your page has encouraged me to take it up again. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Pinup
    Pinup

    I agree that a printable copy showing construction of each stitch would be helpful. The blue lines on the fabric of the feather stitch are very helpful, too. The colorful photo at the top of the page showing how one might combine the basic stitches is wonderful. My mother taught me embroidery when I was a child. It fascinated me. I’m planning to take it up again soon. I’ve seen lovely examples of embroidery, both “ancient” and modern, on Instagram & have collected pictures that inspire. For me, needlework is an expression of one’s artistic talents mixing colors, fabrics and motifs as well as a meditative, relaxing artform.

    Reply
  14. Debra Johnson
    Debra Johnson

    Better visuals would have helped showing steps rather than the final result. Agree to the comment that a “hard, printable”copy would have been very helpful.

    Reply
    • Isabella
      Isabella

      I agree – better visuals would’ve helped here, especially if you were new to embroidery. Video clips would’ve made a huge difference.

      Reply
  15. Carolyn Reed
    Carolyn Reed

    It was useful .Learned these stitches years ago and have forgotten. Also can be used in crochet patterns.

    Reply
    • Pinup
      Pinup

      I am interested in picking up up crochet again, which I did as a youngster. Do you happen to know a good resource for basic crochet stitches? Thank you!

      Reply
  16. Sheila Karr
    Sheila Karr

    That was great! Useful reminder, I might actually spend some time on this. Seems meditative.

    Reply
  17. Clarice
    Clarice

    Brings back fond memories. Got to get back to embroidery work again. So easy to take with when on a road trip or sitting waiting for tedt results!

    Reply
    • Eva Hale
      Eva Hale

      Great reread. I am old and learned all as a child. I have The Lord’s Prayer framed in cross starch, I did at 11 and numerous t-towels, shirts, and a quilt top. With the purchase of an embroidery machine I haven’t hand embroidered in a long time. I really enjoyed this hand work.

      Reply
  18. Georgia Teter
    Georgia Teter

    Nice to see the stitches. What I need is a instructor showing how to do it. I ended up on u tube to learn them.

    Reply
  19. Sandra Baker
    Sandra Baker

    nice to read; however I would like a video I can follow to make the stitches

    Reply