Embroidery Stitching Guide

These stitching how-to’s will help you create the t-shirt and onesie designs seen in Life:Beautiful magazine.

Back Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B and up at C. Insert down at A and up at D. Insert down at C and up at E. Insert down at D and up at F. Continue.
  2. Work from right to left, inserting the needle down one stitch away to the right, then bringing it up one stitch away to the left of the starting point. Pull needle and thread through, leaving a single stitch on top. Continue making stitches. The topside of your fabric will have one-stitch lengths on the surface; the backside will have two-stitch lengths.
  3. Where possible, insert the needle in the hole created from a previous stitch, taking care not to split threads.

Chain Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A and form thread into a loop. Insert the needle down at A, in the same hole if possible, and emerge at B. Pause and tuck the working loop under the needle and hold in place with thumb. Continue pulling needle and thread through. Form the next loop, insert the needle down at B and emerge at C, continuing as before.
  2. Keep loops even in length and do not pull them too tightly or they will lose the desired rounded shape.

Detached Chain Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A and form thread into a loop. Insert the needle down at A, in the same hole if possible, and emerge at B. Pause and tuck the working loop under the needle and hold in place with thumb. Continue pulling needle and thread through. Secure the loop by going down at C. Proceed to next stitch.
  2. Keep loops even in length and do not pull them too tightly or they will lose the desired rounded shape.

Feather Stitch

  1. For precision work, mark four parallel lines on your fabric; otherwise, use your imagination. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B and emerge at C. Pause and tuck the working thread under the needle; pull needle and thread through, forming a U- or V-shape. Insert the needle down at D and emerge at E, continuing as before. Insert down at F and emerge at G. Continue.
  2. You can vary the look of this stitch by how tightly you pull the shapes. A hard V-shape creates a more geometric pattern. A softer U-shape is more organic and is reminiscent of the tip of a feather.

French Knot

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Hold the needle at an angle with your dominant hand. With your nondominant hand, grasp the thread firmly with your thumb and index finger and make two clockwise wraps around the needle. Keeping the thread taut, point the needle down to B. Do not use the same hole as you came up in (A); you want to be about two fabric threads away. Push the needle partway through the fabric and slide the thread wraps down the needle onto the fabric, holding them in place under your finger or thumb. Finish pulling the needle and thread through to the backside and secure.

Lazy Daisy Stitch

  1. Similar to the Chain Stitch. Bring the needle up to the front at A and form thread into a loop. Insert the needle down at A, in the same hole if possible, and emerge at B. Pause and tuck the working loop under the needle and hold in place with thumb. Continue pulling needle and thread through. Insert the needle down at C, just the other side of the loop; this is the first petal. Bring the needle up at D, near the base of the first petal, and continue shaping a petal stitch as above.
  2. Symmetry is key with this stitch to create the desired effect. Add French knots to center of petals to create a daisy.

Romanian Couching

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Make a long straight stitch and insert the needle down at B; this is the laid stitch. Bring the needle up at C and insert down at D, taking care to cross over the laid stitch just made; this is the couching stitch. Continue.
  2. Like the satin stitch, this stitch is used to fill spaces; the couching provides texture and variation. Couching stitches should be long and slanting and lie flat, as parallel as possible to the laid stitch. The couching stitches become almost indistinguishable from the laid thread.
  3. The laid stitch typically runs from one side of the area to be filled to the other. If this stitch is longer than an inch, consider putting down two or more couched stitches to securely anchor the laid stitch.
  4. Unlike a standard couching stitch, which uses two threads, the Romanian stitch is self-couching.

Running Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B and up at C. Insert down at D and up at E. Continue.
  2. On the down strokes, pass the needle under the fabric to the next point and bring up. Pull the needle and thread through, forming a complete stitch.
  3. Keep the length of the stitches and the gaps between the stitches even, though they do not need to be the same width for both.

Satin Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B and up at C. Insert down at D and up at E. Continue.
  2. On the down strokes, pass the needle under the fabric to the next point and emerge. Pull the needle and thread through, forming a complete stitch. The stitches should be laying side by side; do not go through holes from the previous stitch.
  3. Depending on the space to fill, width of stitches can be uniform or staggered. Stitches should be about 3/8 to ½ inch long.

Seed Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B and up at C. Insert down at D and up at E. Continue.
  2. On the down strokes, pass the needle under the fabric to the next point and bring up. Pull the needle and thread through, forming a complete stitch.
  3. This is a decorative filler stitch and can be used instead of Satin Stitch. Keep the stitches in pairs and keep the length of the stitches even. Scatter the paired stitches randomly over an area at different angles. For an even lighter look, scatter single stitches.

Split Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B and back up at C, splitting the thread with the needle; pull the thread up through the stitch. Insert the needle down at D and back up at E, splitting the thread from the previous stitch. Insert the needle down at F and back up at G, again splitting the stitch. Continue.
  2. Use a sharp needle to split thread evenly on the up stroke, taking care not to snag thread as you pull needle and thread up and through.

Stem Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B and up at C. Insert down at D and up at B. Insert down at E and up at D. Insert down at F and up at E. Continue.
  2. Keep the working thread below the needle but above the previous stitch as you follow your pattern’s outline. It may help to hold the previous stitch down with your thumb as you work the next stitch.
  3. Where possible, insert the needle in the hole created from a previous stitch, taking care not to snag or split threads.

Straight Stitch

  1. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B; this is a single stitch. Continue.
  2. The straight stitch is the most basic of all stitches but is the building block for other stitches. It may be used in a random pattern to fill areas. With more discipline, it may be used to make flowers, leaves or patterns. It may also be used to add contrasting stitching on top of satin stitches.
  3. Keep the stitches from becoming too long or they may get snagged and pucker the work.

Woven Wheel (or Rose) Stitch

  1. Create the spokes first—work any number of straight stitches as radial lines, provided they are an odd number; 5 to 9 work best. Bring the needle up to the front at A. Insert the needle down at B and up at C. Insert down at B and up at D. Continue. Keep stitches evenly spaced and the same length.
  2. Using either the same thread or a contrasting color, bring the needle up near the center (B). Switch to a tapestry needle with a ballpoint (blunt) tip, which will prevent snagging as you weave. Going clockwise or counter-clockwise (your choice), begin weaving the needle over and under each radial spoke.
  3. Continue weaving around the spokes until the circle is filled in and you can no longer see any spokes showing.
  4. To get a thicker and more dimensional stitch, push the threads toward the center each time you complete a pass around. Or you can keep the weaving a little looser, resulting in a softer and flatter stitch.

We want to keep in touch.

Don’t miss out on the latest Life:Beautiful updates, promotions and news.