Embroidery is a decorative type of sewing that every designer or tailor has to do from time to time. You can do embroidery on a standard sewing machine, a specialized embroidery machine or by hand if you are the traditional type. This sewing artform has been done for centuries and gone through many evolutions over the same period.
Similarly, each generation comes with its embroidery stitches based on the stylistic choices and trends of the time. Today, designers have a wide variety of decorative stitches to choose from and a wider variety of materials and tools to work with.
Types of Embroidery Stitches
Embroidery stitches can be put into several categories based on things like visual appearance, how they are made, their origin, where they are used and so much more. For instance, we have embroidery stitches that are exclusively done with a sewing machine and those that are best done by hand.
Altogether there are 8 common embroidery stitches that every designer should know how to hand-stitch. Some commonly used embroidery stitches include running stitches, satin stitches, cross-stitches, backstitch, split stitches, chain stitches, stem stitch, lazy daisy the French Knot stitch and others. Some of these stitches are also used for normal sewing and hemming jobs and can be done with a machine.
In choosing an embroidery stitch, you should first determine whether the pattern you are trying to create will come out with that stitching pattern. For instance, simple linear patterns can be accomplished with a series of running stitches while more complicated patterns may need more elaborate stitches.
More importantly, you need to understand how the stitch is done more so if you will be embroidering by hand. Here then is a more elaborate description of each type of embroidery stitch and how you can use it in your designs.
The Running Stitch
The Running stitch is, by far, the simplest embroidering stitch on this list. Anyone with a basic understanding of sewing can create all sorts of patterns with a simple running stitch. Creating a single running stitch is as simple as moving your needle and thread through your fabric in a continuous and straight, curved or diagonal line.
You will then repeat the stitches over and over again following your pattern until you achieve your desired design. A running stitch gives you the freedom to dictate how your pattern goes and the distance between stitches. However, a running stitch is only good for creating linear patterns weaved around simple shapes like rectangles, squares, stars and circles. Not to say that you cannot create more elaborate patterns with a running stitch but it would take a lot of effort.
The backstitch is a slightly improved version of the running stitch. However, it creates a stronger bond with the fabric and is harder undo. Creating a backstitch by hand involves pushing your needle through the fabric through the back and backtracking before overshooting the previous exit point. This essentially creates a knot that cannot be reversed or pulled out without undoing the entire stitch.
Like the running stitch, a backstitch is only useful when creating simple linear-shaped embroidery patterns either by hand or using a machine. However, the backstitch provides the extra benefit of being stronger and therefore more durable on the fabric.
The Satin Stitch
This embroidery stitch is used to create simple raised patterns that fill an area. It can be created using a series of single or multiple running stitches sewn close to each other to fill an empty area of a pattern such as the inside of a leaf, heart, diamond etc. Satin stitches can be done by hand or using a normal sewing machine. Ensure that the thread and tension used is appropriate to create a nice raised pattern.
The French Knot
The French are known for their simple, almost carefree approach to elegance and it’s fair to say that this stitching pattern is a perfect representation of that. In fact, it’s so simple and effective at what it’s supposed to do to the point of being insulting.
You can create a single French knot by sinking your needle on a single point of the fabric, bringing it up a few inches from the entry point and wrapping the thread to form a tiny knot- easier said than done huh? Give it a try though, it’s worth the effort.
You can use the French for all kinds of textured or busy patterns. It forms a series of raised patterns that are simple, durable and elegant to the eye. The French Knot is a bit harder to get right and time-consuming but can be helpful when working with elaborate designs.
The Chain Stitch
As its name suggests, this embroidery stitch looks like a real chain. You can use it to create elegant circular shapes that are loosely attached to the fabric and raised to stand out. Learning how to create a chain stitch requires some patience and precision. It involves working your needle through the fabric, coming back up close to the entry point, leaving an inch for the chain link and going back a few inches apart from the last exit point. Repeat this for the next point but now pass the needle through the already formed chain link at the furthest end for the rest of the chain following your pattern.
As mentioned before, creating a good chain link requires a bit of effort so keep on practicing until you get it right. It might help if you have a picture of a chain stitch with you for reference. You will fall in love with this elegant embroidery stitch once you get the gist of it.
The Feather Stitch
Again, the name might give you a hint as far as the appearance of this stitch is concerned. A feather stitch is a series of interlinked open stitches that almost takes the shape of a feather or leaf. It is perfect for making frames or the borders of an embroidery pattern. There are a few variations of the feather stitch, so it’s best if you have a reference picture when learning how to create one from scratch.
The Split Stitch
The split stitch bears some resemblance to the backstitch but appears a bit busier and has a braided texture. It can be used to create letters and other shapes in an embroidery pattern. To create a split stitch, follow the same needle movements as a backstitch but bring the needle through the middle of the initial stitch instead of moving further ahead. A split-stitch is one of the easier ones to learn and simple enough to create any kind of shape you want in a pattern.
The Couching Stitch
This is yet another elegant embroidering stitch that can be used to fill patterns, for borders and frames. The couching stitch is easy to learn because of its simplicity. You need two sets of thread to create an elegant couching stitch pattern. One of them will be used to create a long and loose running stitch on the surface while the second one will be used to secure the loose part of the running stitch with a series of tacking stitches. Take a look at a reference picture of this stitch and you will know how it’s done right away.
What Are the Different Types of Embroidery Threads?
There are many different types of embroidery threads to suit every design and fabric. Some commonly used examples include tapestry yarn, stranded embroidery threads, crewel yarn silk threads, rayon floss and others. Feel free to experiment with any type of thread you think could make your design better.
How Many Stitches Are There in Embroidery?
There are probably hundreds of embroidery stitches you can try out on your projects. In fact, you can even ditch these so-called embroidery stitches and come up with your own if you want your designs to be unique and well-thought-out. Embroidery is more of an art form meaning originality and experimentation is the key to creating interesting designs.