Right now embroidery is brightening up accessories and clothing everywhere you turn. Shoes, handbags, tops, dresses, jeans - I've even seen it on plant pots! Not only is it incredibly pretty, it is easy to master enough hand embroidery stitches to create your very own designs. It is also a calming and therapeutic pastime, which is always a plus point in my book. Here we share 7 easy hand embroidery stitches to get you started and demonstrate how you can start to put them together to create a feminine floral design. Warning this craft is seriously addictive!
Hand Embroidery Kit
I used our hand embroidery thread, which is available in almost 100 colors. There are also variegated, jewel effect and rayon threads to choose from taking the color options to thousands. More importantly, the quality of this thread is outstanding. I used colors 726, 943, 893 and 554 and our hand sewing needles to create my designs.
When you look closely at hand embroidery thread you will notice it is made up of six intertwined threads. This is called a skein. To create an embroidery the skein is normally split in two and you work with three strands of thread at a time. Make sure you've given yourself a good length of thread to work with. I usually go for at least a forearm's length just take care not to tangle your thread if working with a longer length.
You can use an embroidery hoop if you prefer, although this isn't necessary. You can use any fabric you like, I chose some of our soft denim.
If you are drawing designs onto your fabric you could use your preferred marker pen or pencil. One that washes off (water erasable) or fades (air erasable) is a good idea. We also stock transfer pencils, which allow you to draw your design onto paper first then iron onto your fabric.
Once you've chosen your thread and loaded your needle you are ready to stitch!
The Straight Stitch
Straight by name straightforward by nature the straight stitch is a row of simple stitches.
Tie a knot at the end of your thread and pass the needle from the wrong to the right side of your fabric then back through to the wrong side of the fabric to create your stitch. Repeat
Right-handed people normally work right to left and vice versa.
Aim to keep your stitches and the gaps between them equal for a neat finish.
I have used the straight stitch to create a flower stem, but they are also useful for creating borders or underlining.
The Satin Stitch
The satin stitch is another nice easy stitch to master.
Create a normal stitch in the same way you did for the straight stitch.
To create your second stitch bring the needle from the wrong to the right side of the fabric next to where you started your first stitch and on the right-hand side of that initial stitch.
Next push the needle from the right to the wrong side of the fabric next to where you ended your first stitch.
Continue creating stitches next to your previous stitch. Make sure the stitches are close together to avoid any gaps. Stitching in a diagonal direction will produce more aesthetically pleasing results to stitching horizontally or vertically.
The satin stitch is a great 'filler' and is often used to create petals or leaves on flowers. Use it to fill any shape or object you choose. You could use a washable pen to draw your design and stitch within the lines for neatness.
The Stem Stitch
This method of stem stitch works from left to right.
Push the needle from the wrong to the right side of the fabric. With the thread hanging towards you push your needle from right to left through the right side of the fabric to the wrong side and back out to the right side again.
Where you push the needle from the right to the wrong side governs the length of the current stitch. Where you push the needle back through to the right side determines where the next stitch starts.
The stitches should be sitting neatly next to one another to create a line. As the name suggests these stitches are often used to create stems of flowers. It is also a useful stitch for lettering because it is easy to create curves.
The French Knot
This stitch can be a little trickier than some of the others but can be used to great effect.
Push the needle from the wrong to the right side of the fabric.
Next to where your needle came out push the needle through to the wrong side and back out to the right side without pushing the needle all the way through.
Take the thread and wrap it around the pointed end of your needle five or six times. This is our personal preference and can also be referred to as a 'bullion stitch'. For smaller French Knots wrap the thread around the needle one to three times.
Pull the needle up through the loops you have created ensuring the loops don't become tight and allowing the thread to slacken as you go. Pull the needle through gently and slowly to prevent the loops tightening round the thread and causing it to jam.
If necessary gently ease the loops down the thread with your nail until they form a neat knot at the bottom of the thread.
Insert your needle from the right to the wrong side of the fabric where your thread exits the knot to secure.
French knots can be used as a filler or to form part of a design such as petals or the centre of a flower.
You can make smaller French knots by looping the thread three times rather than five or six.
The back stitch is very similar to the straight stitch in appearance, however, it creates a solid line rather than a dotted line.
Working from right to left push the needle through from the wrong to the right side of the fabric and back through to the wrong side to create a single stitch.
Bring the needle back up through to the right side of the fabric where you want your next stitch to begin.
Push it back through to the wrong side of the fabric right next to the original stitch.
Aim to keep the stitches the same size for a neat appearance.
The chain stitch can be used to create pretty stems, outline or create borders. It is a really effective embroidery stitch, but is nice and easy to sew.
Push the needle through from the wrong to the right side of your fabric. You will be working towards yourself so each stitch you create will be getting nearer to you.
Right next to where your thread came out push your needle back through to the wrong side of the fabric making sure your thread is hanging to the left of the needle. Bring your needle back through to the right side where you want your chain stitch to end. It is easier to do this in one movement rather than pulling the needle all the way through then pushing it back through again (see image below).
Pull the thread all the way through and you will have created a neat little loop AKA your first chain stitch.
Repeat the actions again to continue the chain.
The lazy daisy stitch has to be my favorite - so effective and so easy to do. Essentially you are sewing chain stitches in a formation to create a flower head.
Push the needle from the wrong to the right side of your fabric.
Push the needle back through to the wrong side of your fabric right next to where your thread came out. Ensure the thread is hanging to the left of the needle and bring the needle back out to the right side of the fabric where you want your petal to end. Complete this stitch in one movement rather than pushing the needle all the way through to each side.
Pull the needle and thread all the way through to create your petal.
Next to where your thread last came out reinsert your needle from the right to the wrong side of the fabric bringing it back out to the right side of the fabric next to the other end of your petal.
You can now repeat the steps from the beginning to create the next petal.
There are hundreds of more stitches to choose from, but these easy hand embroidery stitches are a great place to start. You can use these stitches to create simple yet effective designs and build your confidence before taking on some of the more challenging options. Try customising old clothes and accessories to give them a fresh new look or add a unique bit of detail to your latest dressmaking project.
Have fun sewing!
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