21 types of embroidery stitches for beginners
Learn 21 different types of embroidery stitches with our handy guide from Mollie Makes magazine, then practise your new needlework stitches with our embroidery patterns and video tutorials
If you're starting out in embroidery then having a resource of different types of embroidery stitches is essential, it'll help to remember stitches you've learned and also find new techniques and styles for your next project.
You can use our list of different types of embroidery stitches below to practice your embroidery skills and then show off your new stitch craft with our free embroidery patterns, where you'll find plenty of free patterns to download.
For more embroidery stitches and techniques take a look at our complete guide to embroidery for beginners, follow our sewing, stitching, and embroidery Pinterest board or check out our sister magazine Love Embroidery for tips, advice, and free patterns.
21 types of embroidery stitches to try
Back Stitch Trellis
Worked in backstitch, this needlework stitch is great for filling an area. Try stitching it on a diagonal for a true trellis look. Stitch a set of parallel lines of backstitch, keeping the stitch length as consistent as possible. Stitch another set of parallel lines of backstitch, perpendicular to the first, and with the ends of the embroidery stitches intersecting.
Blanket Stitch (surface)
This embroidery stitch is fun for decorative stitching or appliqué. Try to keep the spacing and stitch height consistent... or change it up to create a pattern! Come up at point 1. Go down at point 2 and come back up at point 3, keeping the needle over the working thread. Pull the thread to create a right angle.
Try the blanket stitch with our free birds pattern.
They are tricky at first, but with a little practice, bullion knots are useful for creating texture and beautiful flowers in your embroidery. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2 and back up at point 1, keeping the needle through the fabric. Wrap the needle until the wrapping is as long as the space between points 1 and 2. If you don’t want the knot to lay flat against the fabric, wrap it a little more. Holding the wrapping with your non-dominant hand, carefully pull the needle through the wrapped thread. Go down at point 2 and pull the thread until the stitch lays well.
Practice the bullion knot with our free embroidery animals pattern.
This simple method of chain stitching is worked in reverse. It’s a great embroidery stitch for adding texture to your projects. Make a small straight embroidery stitch. Come up at point 1, slide the needle under the small straight stitch, then go down at point 1. Come up at point 2, slide the needle under the previous stitch, then go down at point 2.
Try out the chain stitch on this free bicycle embroidery pattern.
If you find French knots tricky then try this alternative for creating eyes and other dotted details. Come up at point 1, form a backwards C with the thread and place your needle over the C. Wrap the thread over and then under the point of the needle. While holding the working thread taut, bring the needle down at point 2 (next to point 1, but not the same hole) and pull slowly until the knot is formed.
Try the colonial knots in this free blossom embroidery pattern.
French Knot Stitch
This is an embroidery stitch that everyone should learn, because it’s so useful. The secret is to hold the working thread taut while you pull it through. Come up at point 1, then wrap the thread around the needle twice. Holding the working thread with your non-dominant hand, bring the needle down at point 2 (close to point 1, but not the same hole) and pull slowly until the knot is formed.
Practice French knots with this free sunflower embroidery pattern.
This simple stitch can be worked as individual stitches or in a line. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2, leaving the thread loose. Come up at point 3, catching the loop of thread, then pull to form a ‘V’. Go down at point 4.
You can practice fly stitch with the bunny embroidery pattern.
This embroidery stitch is useful for stitching seam openings closed as it creates a nearly invisible line of stitching! Use this version when the two sides of the seam are held together.
Bring the needle out about 0.5mm below the fold on the inside of one side of the seam. On the opposite side of the seam, directly across from where the thread came out, go in at point 1 and back out at point 2. Go in at point 3 and back out at point 4. Work back and forth on each side of the seam, stitching about .5mm below the fold. Every few stitches, gently pull the thread to tighten the seam.
Usually used for flower petals, this stitch is also ideal for embroidering tiny seeds. Come up at point 1, then go back down at point 1, leaving a small loop. Come up through the loop at point 2, then go down at point 3 (next to point 2, but not the same hole).
Practice the lazy daisy stitch with our guide on how to embroider wild flowers.
To create dimensional flowers, leaves, feathers, and more in your embroidery, a picot stitch is a perfect choice. The base is anchored to the fabric, but the rest of the stitch is woven and free from the material.
Place a sewing pin with a large head vertically through the fabric. Bring the needle up at point 1. Bring the working thread behind the head of the pin and go back down at point 2. Come back up at point 3 next to the pin and as centered between points 1 and 2 as possible. Bring the working thread behind the head of the pin then weave the needle under, over, and under the three vertical threads. Push the thread up to the top. Now from the side where the working thread comes out, weave the needle over, under, and over the vertical threads. Repeat, weaving back and forth, snugging the thread to the top each time. When the shape is filled, bring the needle to the back of the fabric.
Similar to a French knot, this stitch resembles the centre of a flower. You can vary the length, but be careful not to make them too long. Come up at point 1, then wrap the thread around the needle two times. Holding the working thread with your non-dominant hand, bring the needle down at point 2. Keep the wrapped thread taut around the needle and close to the fabric, then pull slowly until the knot is formed.
Practice the pistil stitch with our easy embroidered pincushion.
Start with three small parallel stitches to form the centre. Use stem stitch around the centre, working in circles and increasing the stitch length until the rose reaches the desired size. Experiment using materials such as yarn or ribbon.
When you want to fill an area with a smooth finish, this stitch is the ideal choice. It’s best worked in small areas, because if the stitches are too long, they may snag. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2. Come up at point 3, then go down at point 4. Repeat. Always work the stitches across the area you’re filling, coming up on the opposite side where your needle went down.
Practice the satin stitch with this free flowers embroidery pattern.
Similar to a lazy daisy, the scallop stitch makes it easy to add smiles to little stitched creatures. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2, leaving the thread loose. Come up at point 3, catching the loop of thread, then go down at point 4 (next to point 3, but not the same hole).
Try out the scallop stitch with the free pineapple embroidery design.
A great embroidery stitch for working outlines. When you make the ‘split’ try to go through the fibres, and not just in between the strands of embroidery thread. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2. Come up at point 3, splitting the previous stitch, then go down at point 4. Repeat.
Practice the split stitch with the free leaves embroidery pattern.
Although it can take some practice, stem stitch is great for textured outlines. Come up from the back at point 1, then go down at point 2. Before pulling the stitch close to the fabric, come up at point 3 with the loose thread below the needle. Pull the thread taut, then repeat. Come up from the back at point 1, then go down at point 2. Before pulling the stitch close to the fabric, come up at point 3 with the loose thread below the needle. Pull the thread taut, then repeat.
Practice the stem stitch with the free thanksgiving embroidery pattern.
The simplest of stitches, the straight stitch can be grouped together or used alone. Come up at point 1, then go down at point 2. Repeat.
Practice the straight stitch with the free sun embroidery.
This is a great way to embellish a line of backstitch, adding thickness, texture, or some extra colour. Start with a line of backstitch. Come up at point 1. Slide the needle under the first backstitch from the top down. Slide the needle under the next stitch from the top down. Repeat. Bring the needle down at point 2 when you reach the end of the line of backstitch.
Try out the whipped backstitch with our spring embroidery hoop.
Whipped Spider Web
True to its name, this stitch does look like a spider web, but it also makes wonderful flower shapes. Start with a base of four crossed stitches, creating eight spokes. Come up close to the center, between two spokes. Slide the needle under spokes 1 and 2 without going through the fabric. Bring the needle over spoke 2, then slide the needle under spokes 2 and 3. Continue around all of the spokes several times until the web is filled.
Try out the whipped spider web stitch with the embroidered collar pattern.
Woven Wheel Stitch
This woven embroidery stitch is easy to work and creates stunning flowers that stand out from the material. It is usually started with five spokes, but can be worked with more, as long as there is an odd number of spokes. For a more dimensional stitch pack the weaving tight. For a more flat and open stitch, keep the woven thread looser.
Using straight stitches of even length, form five spokes of the woven wheel. It should look a bit like a star. Bring the needle up close to the center of the wheel. Pass the needle over one spoke and under the next. Pull the thread through so it is close to the center. Pass the needle over the next spoke and under the one after that. Repeat, weaving the needle over and under the spokes around the wheel. When the wheel is full, bring the needle to the back of the fabric.
Practice the woven wheel stitch with this DIY brooches tutorial.
Thank you to Mollie Johanson for helping us put together this useful embroidery stitches guide.
Hopefully, you have found this guide to embroidery stitches helpful and informative! If you would like to take on a new project we have plenty more free embroidery patterns to check out, try the bee embroidery, or the sweet deer embroidery pattern for a fun challenge. If you want to try something a little bit different check out this punch needle embroidery guide and pick up a new skill quickly. If you want to try your hand at machine embroidery, be sure to take a look at this helpful advice on the best embroidery machine available. And finally if you are completely new to embroidery and arent sure where to start why not try the tapestry kits for beginners, which contain everything you need to create your next project.
Mollie is the author of Stitch Love: Sweet Creatures Big & Small. She lives near Chicago and is happiest with a cup of coffee and some stitching. She specializes in designing exceedingly cute, contemporary embroidery and cross stitch projects with a kawaii influence. Her work has been featured on The Spruce Crafts and in books and magazines including Simply Sewing Magazine, Cross Stitch Crazy and Mollie Makes. She co-hosts the Very Serious Crafts Podcast with Haley Pierson-Cox and Heidi Gustad. Find her on Instagram @molliejohanson