Stem Stitch

stem stitch sample 1Stem Stitch is considered a basic stitch used most often for stems or organic shapes and floral patterns. You can use it to outline just about anything. It is quick and easy to do, which is always a plus, but most of all it is incredibly useful because it can hold a curve really well. If ever you have any text that is full or curves or something with a tangle of tendrils and flourishes stem stitch is your best choice of the linear stitches. It also looks good in variety of threads. The sample above I used cotton perle #5 and #8, wool, linen and silk.

stem stitch and cast on stitch hand embroidery sample

How to work stem stitch

stem stitch step by step 1Even though our line will be hidden by your stitching if you need to mark a line use a air dissolvable pen or a quilters pencil.   Work from left to right. Bring the thread up from the back of the fabric on the line.

With your working thread under your needle, point the needle to the left, pick up a small piece of material to make a small stitch as illustrated. Pull the thread through the fabric.

Make the second stitch forward along the line, bringing the needle out a little behind the first stitch. Pull the thread through the fabric.

stem stitch step by step 2Repeat this along the line. Keep stitches the same length and the tension even. Closely spaced stitches make a tight line, and a looser line is created by lengthening the spacing.

If the thread is worked above the needle, the stitch produced is slightly different, and is known as outline stitch.

stem stitch sample 2

These Stem stitch samples worked on a crazy quilt block are both worked in #5 perle cotton thread.


stem stitch hand embroidery sample

Stem stitch is also known as crewel stitch, stalk stitch and South Kensington stitch.

How to hand embroider Satin Stitch

Satin Stitch sample 1Satin stitch which is also known as damask stitch is one of the oldest embroidery stitches found and it is worked on traditional embroideries in practically every country of the globe. Traditional embroiderers of China and Japan excelled in the use of this stitch yet it is quite a simple stitch as it is created by working straight stitches close together. When done well this stitch is just sumptuous.

Satin Stitch sample 4To use satin stitch to advantage stitches should lie evenly and closely together. You need to have them covering the fabric but not work on top of each other. They do take a little practice to achieve the best effect but they are worth it. As you can see Satin stitch will  play well together with other stitches. This sample is worked on 26 cnt linen in a mix of threads which include #5 cotton perle, wool, 3 strands of stranded floss and silk.

How to embroider Satin Stitch

step by step how to work satin stitch1To work the stitch bring the thread up through the fabric and make a single straight stitch.

step by step how to work satin stitch 2Bring the needle out very close to the stitch just made and continue to fill the shape.

step by step how to work satin stitch 3Tension can be an issue for some people. If the stitches too slack that they sag or too tight that they pucker the fabric use an embroiderers hoop. This stitch is really only suitable to cover small areas as long satin stitches can become loose, can snag and become untidy. If holding a curved edge neatly is difficult using outlined satin stitch is often the solution.

If you need to cover a larger area, divide the shape into smaller section working rows of Satin stitch to fill each area. The other alternative is to use long and short stitch or depending upon the design you can always think in terms of a patterned filling stitch.

Satin Stitch sample 9

You can easily learn and practice Satin stitch on even weave fabrics. You can build up patterns using simple stitches. This is an example of satin stitch worked in a hand space dyed cotton perle #5 thread. I worked them in a simple zig zag pattern and then defined diamond shaped boxes in back stitch before adding a bead.

Satin Stitch sample 10 You can also work Satin stitches in freeform manner. In this case I have worked the embroidery on a hand painted cotton background using mainly cotton threads.

Satin Stitch sample 5

In this next sample I used patches of stain stitches worked in wool and mixed with French knots in order to create an interesting texture.

Satin Stitch sample 7

Pulled Satin Stitch

Pulled Satin stitch is exactly the same stitch as regular satin except after each stitch you give the thread a little tug and pull it tight so that the stitch ‘pulls’ the fabric and condenses the warp and/or weft of the thread. This technique will only work if you use a fabric such a linen. I usually use a even weave linen of about 26 count. Other counts regularly used are 28 to 36 count. Regular fabrics with tight weave and fabrics such as Aida that are woven to prevent puckering will not work.

Pulled Satin Stitch sample 3An example of Pulled satin can be seen in the top right hand corner of this piece. The horizontal lines are created using hand space dyed threads of silk, wool and perle cotton #8 and #5. In this case I just pulled each stitch as I worked it.

Pulled satin stitch sample1In the case of this design the vertical lines are also pulled satin stitches. Below is a close up, as you can see I pulled some stitches tighter than others in order to create a pattern.

Pulled satin stitch sample 2

Other forms and varieties of of Satin stitch are
Padded Satin Stitch
Raised Satin stitch is also known as outlined Satin stitch
Diagonal Satin stitch

How to embroider Barred Chain Stitch

barred chain stitch sample 4As experienced stitchers know the chain stitch family has numerous varieties Barred chain stitch is an interesting adaption.

Just like chain stitch Barred chain stitch is a linear stitch that will follow curves well and can be easily worked on all types of fabrics. It is easy and quick to work and suitable for large variety of threads.

This stitch is suitable for freeform stitching and combines with beads easily.

barred chain stitch sample 5The size and appearance of the stitch will be influenced by the size and spacing of the prongs. Since the appeal of Barred Chain stitch  is based on the textured nature of the line produced you can be very experimental with the thread you use and it is easily  combined with other textured stitches to produce interesting results. You can overlap lines of the stitch or use it to couch down another thread.

barred chain stitch sample 4Barred Chain stitch can be used as thorny outbursts in floral motifs if you are a traditional stitcher. (Yes a ‘thorny outburst’ sounds like a teenage mood swing but I am sure readers will undestand what I mean)

This factor in combination with explorations varying the length of the spines, or the size of the chain, spacing of the spines, width of the line, weight and texture of the thread, should keep most contemporary embroiderers intrigued. Explore the scale you work in and I am sure you will have interesting results.

How to work Barred Chain stitch

To work Barred chain stitch you need to be familiar with chain stitch.

step by step barred chain stitch 1Working down the line start with a basic chain stitch.

step by step barred chain stitch 2Insert the needle to the left of the first chain stitch with the point of the needle out a short space along the line to be stitched. This can vary depending upon how wide you want the ‘spike’ of the chain. The wider the gap the larger the spike.

step by step barred chain stitch 3Wrap the thread under the needle point towards the right and pull the needle through the fabric.The thread should cross as you do this producing a crossed stitch as illustrated.

step by step barred chain stitch 4Next make a basic chain stitch.This pattern of one basic chain and and one barred chain stitch is repeated as you work down the line.

step by step barred chain stitch 5

Barred chain stitch can look effective if you add a seed bead to the end of each spine.

barred chain stitch sample 3

You can also create an interesting  textured surface if you use bulky threads and work it row up on row together.

barred chain stitch sample 2

Return to the stitch dictionary index