How To Do Embroidery Stem Stitch

Stem stitch is perhaps most embroiderer’s favorite stitching method due to its appeal, versatility, and simplicity. It creates a rope-like textured finish with very delicate details – either in straight or curved lines.

Perfect to use on numbers and initials. But generally, stem stitch is a highly popular method for any project that involves plant or flower stems. It is considered an excellent alternative to running stitch and backstitching.

Here’s the most exciting part: learning how to do embroidery stem stitch is super easy! It’s like you are coloring with thread. Not convinced enough? Take these simple steps by us and be ready to produce embroidery masterpieces!

How to Do Embroidery Stem Stitch?

Begin with a single running stitch. Bring the needle up, midway alongside the preceding stitch. Insert it back through one stitch length away.

Repeat the process, bringing the needle up midway and to the side of your last stitch. It is just an extract of the details. Below is a thorough, comprehensive guide to help you get started.

Step by Step Guide on Working Embroidery Stem Stitch

Before you get confused, stem stitch and outline stitch are a different thing. Yes, they look incredibly similar. The difference lies in how you carry them out.

Stem stitch is done with the thread dropping below the needle. Outline stitch, on the other hand, is worked with the thread directly above the needle. You will find stem stitch painless to do.

Before getting to the procedure, start by preparing all the materials you will need. These include needles, scissors, embroidery thread, and a blank piece of fabric. You may also need around 15 cm embroidery hoop or bigger when working on an outsized design.

Remember that embroidery stem stitch works in reverse to what your hands are capable of. It means you need to do from left to right if you are right-handed.

The thread is underneath the needle. Left-handed stitchers should work from right to left and keep the thread above the needle. Reversing the position would lead you to create an outline stitch.

Step 1: Make a stitch with the length of your choice. Secure by tying the far end. However, knots are not essentially necessary. You can bind the thread ends in other ways, such as clipping the thread. If not, take the threaded needle to your fabric backside through the final stitch.

Step 2: To make your work less hassle, use a removable fabric pencil to draw your pattern onto the fabric. A tailor’s chalk is also ideal. You have to fill out those figures or map out the lines through stitches.

Step 3: As have expressed above, start with a single stitch.

Step 4: For your second stitch, begin centrally. It means right below your original stitch.

Step 5: Your third stitch must be halfway. Moreover, it should be beneath your second stitch.

Step 6: Tug the thread, so the stitch rests evenly and further down the stitch.

Step 7: Repeat the process until you finish stitching your pattern or figure.

There are two temporary knots you can use to start a thread – waste knot and away knot. Both begin with a knot at the thread’s end. The main difference is that a waste knot ideally works with a stitch that can conceal the tail while stitching.

One example is cross-stitch. Away knot works with any embroidery stitches. It must be three to five inches away from the part where you intend the embroidery to emerge initially.

Be sure the needles appear beyond other stitches so you can achieve a steam effect and continuous line. Another beauty of this hand embroidery stitch is that it can be a writing tool. Capture significant memories and interpret messages; such a unique handcraft gift to anyone.

Stem Stitch Variations

Embroidery stem stitch comes in several variations, including whipped, raised, and Portuguese knotted stem stitch.

1. Whipped Stem Stitch

This method involves twisting a thread of various hues. You can opt for it if you want a thicker line. The process is merely straightforward and produces beautiful stitches. To do this, do one line of stem stitch and thread a tapestry needle with very similar thread color.

But again, you can use contrasting colored threads. It depends on whichever will suit your interest. Go beneath and beyond the stem stitch while keeping the fabric completely intact.

2. Raised Stem Stitch

Place some stitches across your chosen shape. You can change to a dull tapestry needle to prevent potential poking of the tip. Just insert the needle below your first stitch, then take another until you reach the top of your work.

Be gentle, not to tug the straight stitches exceedingly. Otherwise, they will likely sag and create an undesirable gap.

3. Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch

Have you been desiring to attain that raised look through a single line without using a thicker thread? Try Portuguese knotted stem stitch instead.

It only involves a few added steps which beginners can apply as well. All you need to do is insert the needle below the preceding stitch and the one you have made. Do this twice.

In this stem stitch variation, remember that minor stitches will enable you to obtain a thicker line. The same goes for using thicker thread. You will also get a thicker line of stitch.

Tips for Better Embroidery Stem Stitch

Consider these essential points when finishing off your embroidery design.

1. The relationship between the embroidery needle and thread is highly crucial. Therefore, pick the right needle – probably a sharp one – consistent with the thread’s weight.

2. Make sure to maintain small stitches when working around a tiny circle. Long stitches are not suggested as they can compress the curve – making it appear chaotic. It is especially important when dealing with constricted curves.

3. Starters may want to experiment with the number of strands first before going through the actual work. More strands will produce more texture.

4. If you are planning to do embroidery flowers, follow the proper sequence. The stem should be done first, followed by the branch, flower, and finally the leaves.

Work from top to bottom while making sure the flowers are positioned in the center. To achieve a more natural finish, go for curved lines rather than straight ones.

5. Don’t be afraid to be more adventurous. If you have a stem stitch project that requires color variations, like flowers, don’t settle for a straightforward alternative. Go with whatever colors are nearest to your desired.

6. Dealing with a delicate thread seems complicated. But here’s the trick: leave the needle in the middle of your first and second stitch. Then, make the loop tighter. Do this by tugging the thread from below your project, thrusting the needle upward, and pulling your thread.

7. French knots are usually famous for creating seeds or flower centers. It looks soft or rigid, though it will depend on the tension of your thread.

8. Leave a tiny loop at the base of your marked line when working from left to right. Reversely, you can leave a small circle above the marked line when using from left to right.

What Is the Embroidery Stitch Used For?

Learning this stitch would mean loose-fitting yourself from the possibilities of creating a wide array of embroidery projects. You can work on nearly everything from quilts, clothes, and designs to cushion covers.

Adding unique details on a wedding dress with a stem stitch is extremely passable, too. Use silk thread and cotton as sought-after materials to help you create a gorgeous design.

How Many Embroidery Strands Should I Use?

There is no definite answer to this. Thus, you can consider what you are embroidering and what you want the output to look like. One strand forms a beautiful line for intricate details.

Two strands are useful if you’re going to produce a finer yet easily perceptible line. Three stands create a bold line for decent details. However, you can add up to six numbers of strands. I

t is especially ideal if you want to make those cute, bumpy embroidery styles.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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