Tips for working Bullion Stitch

Tips for working Bullion Stitch

Bullion stitches are often a challenge to embroiderers so here are a few tips for working them. With Bullion use a milliners needle as a milliners needle is the same diameter from point to eye and this means the thread will slide along the needle easily. Also use a thread with a good twist such as DMC pearl 8 rather than a stranded thread. I also recommend using a hoop.

Bullion itself is a sort of wrapped back stitch and for many if they think of it that way it seems easier. Do not wrap too tight when you are working the bullion. Also work up to a high number of wraps rather than trying a high number of wraps first off and getting discouraged. Master a 4 wrap bullion first then when that is OK try a 5 wrap and then a 6 wrap bullion and so on.

Work the stitch as in my stitch directions, but where I say “Pull the working thread through the coil until it tightens and take the needle through the fabric at the point where it first appeared.” If it looks lumpy or uneven at this point slide the needle under the bullion, so that the needle is between fabric and bullion stitch. Run the needle up and down the stitch a little and you will find the wraps will even out. I call it tickling its belly.

I hope this helps. Try it out and let me know. 


  1. Hi Amber
    I just thought I would let you know that I am not a lefty – and always write for right handed people Your complaint is the first I have ever had in 12 years but I will go and check the images just incase you are right! (the images could have been flipped in the photography phase and when I did those pictures I was using film) So thanks

    Sharon B
  2. Sharon, it would probably help us right handed people if you remind us once in a while that you are a lefty. When I tried to do the bullion stitch following your instructions, I failed miserably. Then I tried it with my right hand, and it worked great. Just a thought.

    Amber Rutz
  3. Hi Sharon!

    I learned how to do bullion stitches from one of Judith Montano’s books and this is one of my favorite stitches! I have to say I find it funny that you advise avoiding stranded thread for this stitch, as I’ve found my dmc floss with 3 stands works really well for the bullion. I tried the bullion with a perle 12 recently and the result was not good! The bullion turned out misshapen and tight and I remember the thread was stiff to work with.

    Still, I want to keep trying the buillion with different threads to see how it makes up. (I’ve only recently purchased alternatives to dmc so I’m still experimenting.)

    I do love this stitch you do here: http://inaminuteago.com/buttonquilt/buttonbox12.html

    Can you explain briefly how it’s done? I tried something similar and didn’t get the same result, probably in large part because I made the stitch follow a straight line rather than zigzagging like you did. I guess I’m wondering how you maintain that cute little half-circle that forms to the side of the bullion. I suppose it’s just looping the thread around?


    P.S. I went to joggle and couldn’t find a cq class for you…just wanted to let you know. Do I need to request it from joggle?

  4. Hi from Manchester UK
    I am able to manage bullions and drizzle stitch etc ok but need help please with colonial knots – this was a new stitch to me. I read about it in one of the Australian books and it took me a while to find a diagramme of how to do it but somehow I have trouble getting the first twist round the needle – can you work your magic and help!! I like the idea of movies for some of the stitches. I have found some stitch animations on http://www.victoriasampler.com under VS Club & Freebies
    Having a great time reading your log – can’t imagine how you find time for everything you do.
    Many Thanks

  5. Sharon, I’ve only done the bullion stitch once and I guess it was beginner’s luck because it turned out just perfect. But I think I’m going to have to try some more because I’m seeing different ways of using the stitch. Thanks for your tips.

  6. Thank you Sharon. I am really enjoying this series although I’m becoming somewhat mind boggled. I have three stitches to try and conquer now, the bullion, caston and barred chain.

    June R (grandma ziki)
  7. Sharon, thanks bunches! The bullion has always been my nemesis. However, “quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore!'” Now that I think of it, that poem would make the basis for a great piece of work. I think I’ve just found yet another personal challenge…I’ll keep ya posted!!

    Sarah E.
  8. Thank you so very much Sharon! I’ve been trying to get the hang of this stitch for over 2 years now and still, it eludes me! I’m going to try working with your directions and see if that helps. Still need to work more with the caston stitch too.

    Thank you!!!!

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