4 Surprisingly Easy Stitches for Perfect Hand Embroidered Letters

Colorful embroidered words and letters

Hand embroidery brings a personal touch to just about any project, whether you’re adding a quick quilt label or stitching your favorite quote to hang on the wall. Check out these easy stitches for perfect hand embroidered letters. One of the best ways to make a big impact: choosing a font for all your pretty letters. You can play around in a word document to check out different varieties; once you’ve found one you like, transfer it to your fabric and start playing with these four stitches (we used full six-strand embroidery floss) to find a style you totally love.

Pro Tip: Regardless of which stitch you choose, try to keep it short. Doing so lets you capture the curves of a letter without any straight bits poking out.

Backstitch Letters

The standard backstitch makes for a nice outline in hand embroidery. It’s perfect for lettering (both in a single or double layer) or for outlining block lettering.

Backstitch embroider the word hello

To start the backstitch, come up underneath the fabric and pull the needle and floss through. Make your first stitch, then bring the needle back up underneath the fabric a full stitch length, leaving a space between the needle and the previous stitch. (Lots of stitchers recommend using a length that’s about the same as a grain of rice.)

Backstitch embroider the word hello

Bring the needle back and pass through at the end of the previous stitch to create a full line.Pull the needle through and move forward in the same way until you stitch the whole letter.

Stem Stitch Letters

Great for cursive fonts, the stem stitch adds a cool surface dimension that makes the letters look like twisted rope. (This stitch is also used to create flower stems, since it looks a bit like twisted vines.) Bonus: you can manipulate the previous stitch to give it more curvature as you move forward with your line of embroidery.

Start embroider needle coming through

To start, bring the floss up though the fabric from the underside for one stitch.

Stem stitched letter h needling coming through

Bring the needle back up just to the side of the stitch you just made.

Stem stitched letter h

Keep going in this same motion until you finish the letter.

Split Stitch Letters

Just like the stem stitch, the split stitch adds texture and dimension to letters by giving them the appearance of a plait or braid. The key: instead of coming up underneath the side of the stitch, the needle pushes through the center of the previous stitch, literally splitting the floss for an elegant design.

Yellow thread in needle over word hello

To start, bring the needle and floss up through the underside of the fabric and back down to make one stitch.

Yellow thread in needle coming through

Bring the needle up through the center of the previous stitch, splitting the floss.

Continue in the same way until you complete the letter.

Running Stitch Letters

The running stitch looks like a dashed line. It can be worked completely on the surface or one stitch at a time — totally up to you.

Running stitch through letter h

To start, bring the floss and needle up through the fabric. Bring the needle in and out, catching a bit of the fabric with each stitch.

Running stitch coming through letter h

Pull the needle through, and you’ll see your dashed line start to form.

Continue until you complete the design.

Colorful hello embroidered words

Hello, perfect hand embroidered letters!

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25 Responses to “4 Surprisingly Easy Stitches for Perfect Hand Embroidered Letters”

  1. Beth

    Your method of modeling how to create the different stitches was very helpful.

  2. Kathy

    Thanks for the illustrations. Couldn’t find lettering in my books so this was helpful to know what to use for a label on the center of a drysden plate tie quilt.

  3. Thelma Emory

    Do you do videos? I would love to learn these stitches but I need extra help to see how you keep them going.

  4. Mary

    Love the tutorial on stitches, how do you learn threading painting; long and short stitch?? EX: how many strands; stitch length? Any instructions I have read do not discus any of these.

  5. Marjorie Danner

    Thank you for showing these stitches. I especially enjoyed the split stitch which was new to me.

  6. Rachel Alzubi

    How do you get your lettering so perfectly traces/written on your fabric?

    • Christine

      You can print out your favourite font and using graphite paper trace the letters onto the fabric.

    • Joy

      I am 74yrs old and thought I would try embroidery for the first time and your demos and explaination are wonderful.

  7. Karen

    Great demo. Thank you. What is the little thing that is holding your needle (strawberry). Does it have a magnet underneath?

    • Danny

      It’s called a needle minder, and they usually have a magnet. This one look handmade; most are more like enamel pins. There are some really funny and snarky ones around!

    • Sheila

      I go on you tube for tutorial on about any stitch I need to learn. If I forget I go back on again. Cutesy crafts is great
      I just go back to you tube if I forget the stitch