Even if you have a sewing machine, there will be times when a pattern calls for some basic hand embroidery stitches. These are often used for decorative sewing and are great for faces on toy sewing patterns. Here I have put together 21 of the most common hand embroidery stitches for beginners to use.
HAND EMBROIDERY STITCHES
I have arranged this list of hand embroidery stitches alphabetically and added links to detailed tutorials from my blog if you would like to learn how to do each stitch.
Hand Embroidery Stitches #1 – Backstitch
Backstitch is a strong hand stitch generally used for stitching seams or for decoration. It is great for sewing doll mouths and noses. When hand stitching seams this is the perfect stitch where you want a strong and durable seam. The smaller your stitches, the stronger the seam will be.
- I find it comfortable to work right to left
- Put the needle down into the fabric (1) and come up a short distance away (2)
- Going backward, put the needle back down at (3) (same place as (1)
- Come up in front of (2) at point (4)
Full Article: How to Backstitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #2 – Blanket Stitch
Blanket stitch can be used for sewing a decorative edge on blankets, toys and sewing projects. It can also be used to sew 2 pieces of fabric together and creates a nice strong seam in felt sewing projects. You will often see blanket stitch used with thicker embroidery threads.
Blanket Stitch Instructions:
- Working from the inside to the outside, put the needle down and out to the edge
- Make sure the thread is wrapped underneath
- Pull down away from the edge
Full Article: How to do Blanket Stitch (INCLUDES VIDEO)
Hand Embroidery Stitches #3 – Buttonhole Stitch
Buttonhole stitch is similar to blanket stitch and can be used to make pretty wheels that can be used for flowers. You can also use it on the edges of buttonholes of course! Buttonhole stitch is sewn in the opposite direction to blanket stitch and has a slightly raised knotted edge.
Buttonhole Stitch Instructions
- This stitch is normally worked right to left.
- Draw 2 parallel lines to use as a guide.
- Put the needle up from underneath and exit on the bottom right at (1)
- Move a short distance to the left and put the needle down at (2) and exit on the top line at (3).
- Pull the needle through and the thread down. Each time you pull down a little knot will form.
- Put the needle back in on the bottom row at (4) and exit at (5).
- Pull down with the thread.
Full Article: How to do Buttonhole Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #4 – Chain Stitch
Chain stitch can be used as a nice and thick outline stitch and is a commonly used straight stitch. It makes a great stitch to use for letters and shapes that need to be filled as well as stems on flowers. Several rows of chain stitch can be used to produce thicker borders. In my photo above I did 3 rows of chain stitch in different colored threads.
Chain Stitch Instructions
- I find it most comfortable to work from right to left.
- Bring the needle up from underneath the fabric at (1).
- Put it back into the save exit point a (1). It can be touching or with a slight gap. This is the point (2).
- Bring the needle out a short distance away at (3).
Full Article: How to do Chain Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #5 – Chevron Stitch
Chevron is one of my favorite hand embroidery stitches due to its geometric shape. It is commonly used for borders. The rows can be separated by a small space like my sample or joining for a geometric fill shape.
Chevron Stitch Instructions
- Chevron stitch is worked from left to right.
- It can help to use a pencil to mark v shapes first.
- Bring the needle to the top of the fabric at (1) and then put the needle down at (2) a short distance away.
- Exit at (3) which is halfway between (1) and (2).
- Bring the needle down in a v shape.
- Create a tab at the bottom of the v the same way as the top.
- Create a tab at the top and repeat to form the next chevron.
Full Article: How to do Chevron Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #6 – Couching Stitch
Couching is a method of over stitching thicker yarns or threads and can be done in eye-catching contrasting colors.
Couching Stitch Instructions
- Lay the thicker underneath thread along the surface of the fabric
- Bring the surface thread up at (1) on the side of the thicker thread
- Cross over and go back down at (2)
Full Article: How to do Couching
Hand Embroidery Stitches #7 – Cross Stitch
When people think of hand embroidery, this is often the first stitch that comes to mind. Tiny little cross stitches can be used to make entire intricate embroideries. There is something relaxing about just using the one stitch for a design.
Cross Stitch Instructions:
- I like to work the cross stitch right to left.
- From underneath bring the needle up at the top left of the cross at (1)
- Put the needle down at (2) which is on the diagonal and then move across to the left and come up at (3)
- Put the needle down at (4) at the top right and move across to the next cross at (5)
Full Article: How to do Cross Stitch (includes single and double cross stitch)
Hand Embroidery Stitches #8 – Faggoting
Faggoting is a method of joining 2 pieces of fabric with stitches. It is often used along skirt borders and napkins.
Full Article: How to do Faggoting Embroidery
Hand Embroidery Stitches #9 – Feather Stitch
Feather Stitch is a beautiful stitch for stems and leaves. It looks a lot like coral to me. It can be structured and straight or free-flowing.
Feather Stitch Instructions:
- Draw 4 parallel lines
- I find it comfortable to work left to right
- Bring the needle up on the bottom line at (1)
- Insert the needle at (2) on the third line
- Exit at (3) on the second line making sure the thread is under the tip
- Repeat for (4) and (5) on the first and second row once again making sure the thread is under the tip
Full Article: How to do Feather Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #10 – Fern Stitch
Fern stitch is another stitch that looks pretty for stems and leaves. It looks nice delicately scrolling across your design.
Fern Stitch Instructions:
- Draw 3 parallel lines
- I find it comfortable to work from right to left
- Come up at (1) in the center line
- Put the needle down at (2) on the same line and come up at (3) on the top line
- (3) is in line with (1)
- Put the needle back down at (4) an come up at (5)
- (4) is the same as (2) and (5) is in line with (1)
Full Article: How to do Fern Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #11 – Fishbone Stitch
Fishbone stitch makes me think of fish skeletons but it is actually commonly used for leaves that have thick, dense padding and an interesting cross over effect along the center.
- Draw your leaf shape and mark the center
- Starting at the center top, bring the needle up at (1) and put it down at (2) a short distance away
- Bring the needle up at (3) and cross it over the center line to go back in at (4)
- Come up at (5)
- Continue stitching while crossing over the center line
Full Article: How to do Fishbone Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #12 – Fly Stitch
Fly Stitch is an interesting “Y” shaped stitch that can be joined together to form leaves.
Fly Stitch Instructions:
- Optional – Draw a Y shape
- Bring the needle up at (1) and move across to (2)
- Come up at (3) which is the bottom of the V shape
- Secure the loop by putting the needle down at (4). This distance can be short or long
Full Article: How to do Fly Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #13 – French Knots
These little knots are really easy to do and make tiny flowers that are normally sewn in clusters. They can also be used for the center of Lazy Daisy and other flowers and make nice dandelions and fireworks.
French Knots Instructions:
- Come up from underneath at (1)
- Twist the thread around the needle (twist towards the back). Hold the thread taut
- Put the needle back down next to (1)
- The number of twists determines the size of the knot.
Full Article: How to do French Knots
Hand Embroidery Stitches #14 – Herringbone Stitch
Herringbone stitch is geometric shaped and is commonly used for borders. It can be double or single.
Herringbone Stitch Instructions:
- I find it comfortable to work from right to left
- Draw 2 parallel lines
- Come up at (1) on the top right of the line
- Bring the needle down in a diagonal at (1) and make a small stitch at (3) to the right
- Cross the needle on a diagonal again and make a small stitch (4) to (5)
Full Article: How to do a Herringbone Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #15 – Lazy Daisy
Lazy Daisys are a flower creating stitch that can be used to make simple or multi petal flowers. They can be joined in the center or left open.
Lazy Daisy Instructions:
- While not necessary, it can help beginners to draw your flower shape.
- From underneath, come up at (1) which is the inside of the petal
- Put the needle back down at (2) which is just underneath (1)
- Come back up at (3) at the tip of the first petal
- Put the needle down at (4) which is on the other side of the thread. This will secure the loop.
Full Article: How to do a Lazy Daisy
Hand Embroidery Stitches #16 – Running stitch
The running stitch is the easiest stitch for beginners due to its simple up and down motion. It is also the fastest stitch to sew. Similarly to backstitch, the smaller your stitches the stronger the seam. Running stitch can also be used for decorative purposes and is used in Japanese sashiko to create interesting wave-like effects.
Running stitch is not quite as strong as backstitch. For a stronger stitch used double thread.
Running Stitch Instructions:
- I find it comfortable to work from right to left
- From underneath, bring the needle up at (1) on the far right
- Put the needle down at (2) a short distance away
- Come up at (3)
- For fabric not in a hoop, take several stitches at once before pulling the thread through.
Full Article: How to do Running Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #17 – Satin stitch
Satin stitch is used for purely decorative purposes. Stitch flowers, leaves, circles – in fact, any shape you can think of. It is great for stitching eyes and cheeks on toys and dolls.
Create a frame to stitch within either with small straight stitches or removable pen or chalk then stitch from side to side.
Satin Stitch Instructions:
- Draw the shape you wish to fill
- Starting from the center, bring the needle from underneath on the edge of your shape at (1)
- Put the needle down at the top of the shape at (2) and come up just next to (1)
- Repeat and then do the other side
Full Article: How to do Satin Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #18 – Seed Stitch
Seed stitch (also called rice stitch) can be used as a decorative filling stitch or as a method of padding underneath satin stitch.
Seed Stitch Instructions:
- Draw your shape
- In a random position, bring the needle up and (1) and then go back down a short distance away at (2)
- Repeat randomly in your preferred density
Full Article: How to do Seed Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #19 – Stem Stitch
Stem stitch creates thick rope-like stitches that are great for stems, borders and geometric designs.
Stem Stitch Instructions:
- Bring the needle up from underneath at (1)
- Take a stitch at (2) and come up half way at (3)
- (3) is slightly below the line between (1) and (2)
Full Article: How to do Stem Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #20 – Straight Stitch
Straight stitch is not a single stitch but rather a collection of hand embroidery stitches. As the name implies, the stitches are done along a straight line with a single thread.
Full Article: How to do Straight Stitch
Hand Embroidery Stitches #21 – Web Stitch
Web stitch is a spiral-shaped stitch that can be used to look like radiating flowers. Use them as spider webs to make a spooky Halloween embroidery. They are created with an up and down weaving technique along the spokes.
Web Stitch Instructions:
- Draw a circle and mark the center
- Stitch spokes coming out from the center. You want an odd number.
- Bring the contrast thread up from the center and weave up and down around the spokes.
- Stop when you have the look you prefer.
Full Article: How to do Web Stitch
What will you be sewing with your basic hand embroidery stitches? Do you have another favorite not covered here? Please share it below.
MORE EMBROIDERY ARTICLES
- Blanket Stitch
- Buttonhole Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Couching Embroidery Tutorial
- Cross Stitch
- Double Herringbone Stitch
- Embroidery Basics
- Faggoting Embroidery
- Feather Stitch
- Fern Stitch
- Fishbone Stitch
- Fly Stitch
- French Knots
- Hand Embroidery Stitches
- Herringbone Stitch
- Lazy Daisy
- Running Stitch
- Sashiko Embroidery
- Satin Stitch
- Seed Stitch Embroidery (Rice Stitch)
- Stem Stitch
- Straight Stitch
- Web Stitch | Embroidery Tutorial
- Whip Stitch