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The Top 6 Hand Embroidery Stitches You Should Master!

This embroidery stitches tutorial will help you master the basics of hand embroidery.

Whether you are new to the embroidery world or an old pro, it is crucial to learn and/or refine your hand embroidering techniques.

Individuals throughout the ages have practiced embroidery, producing beautiful samplers to show off their expertise in different stitches. In 18th century America, girls would make embroidery samplers showing off their stitches by creating beautiful pictures or designs. In fact, these samplers were intended to be viewed by potential suitors, in order to show off the patience and virtue of the woman!

Luckily for us, a person’s virtues are no longer determined by the quality of their backstitch. But refining one’s hand embroidery skills are still a worthwhile venture, even if a suitor is not at stake.

Here is a list of the top six embroidery stitches to master!

Embroidery Stitches Guide: The Big Six

These stitches are great for beginners in the art of embroidery, as well as go-to stitches for the more experienced embroiderer.

Outline Stitches

The best stitches for outlining a design.

embroidery stitches you should master
  • Back Stitch: The simplest stitch to learn, the back stitch creates a solid line, perfect for creating text or outlining a design. Begin by making a simple stitch. For the second stitch, bring the needle up through the fabric, but a stitch-length distance in front of the first stitch. Then lace the thread back down through the fabric through the end of the previous stitch.  An excellent tutorial by The Stitch Emporium is shown here.
embroidery stitches you should master
  • Split Stitch: This stitch also creates a solid line, but with more texture. The split stitch begins by making a simple stitch. For the second stitch though, bring the needle up through the center of the first stitch, splitting strands of the embroidery thread. Continue, splitting each previous stitch. Another great tutorial can be found here.


Filler Stitches

The best stitches for filling up blank space quickly and decoratively.

embroidery stitches you should master
  • Satin Stitch: This stitch creates a smooth surface with the thread, and is often used to create leaves or flower petals. See an in depth tutorial here. Begin by making one long stitch that stretches the whole length of the image you want to create. Place the second stitch right next to the first; continue with the rest of the stitches, keeping the stitches close. Fill in the entire image with the satin stitch.
embroidery stitches you should master
  • Seed Stitch:The seed stitch is a great filler, requiring less time, effort, and floss than the satin stitch. Begin by making one simple stitch, anywhere within the area. Then choose another spot, and make another simple stitch, but in a different angle than the original stitch. Continue making simple stitches at different angles until the area is filled to your satisfaction (there can be as many or few stitches as you want to create a design). Here is Sarah showing this method.


Purely Pretty

These stitches take more time to learn, but show off the true skill of the embroiderer.

embroidery stitches you should master
  • French Knot: This stitch is often used as the center of flowers, or as delicate decoration. Begin by bringing the floss up through the fabric; pull the floss tautly through. Next, wrap the floss around the needle two times, and then insert the needle back into the top of the fabric, right next to the first stitch. Pull through, but don’t yank the thread. This stitch can be made larger by wrapping the floss more than two times around the needle. Instructables tutorial.
embroidery stitches you should master lazy daisy


  • Lazy Daisy: This stitch creates a series of ovals that can be used to form a flower or other decoration. Begin by making a simple stitch, but don’t pull the floss all the way through: leave a small loop above the fabric. With your fingers, press this loop down against the fabric in the exact place you want the oval. Then create another stitch at the loose end of the loop, securing it to the fabric.

What stitches can you not live without? Tell us about your favorites in the comments below!

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