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Stitch Book: Stem Stitch Tutorial

I have really enjoyed using the stem stitch in my recent designs. It creates a solid clean line and is perfect for stems (hence the name!) It's also good for outlines, straight and curved lines. It creates a subtle rope like effect and looks quite delicate when only a few strands of thread are used and bold with more threads.

Here's a few examples of some designs where I have used stem stitch....


Stem Stitch Tutorial:

1. Start by threading the needle with your stranded embroidery thread. It's up to you how many strands of thread you want to sew with. I have chosen three threads for this tutorial. Tie a small knot at one end of the thread.


2. Bring the needle up through the fabric, this is your starting point.

3. Then put the needle back in the fabric. The first stitch can be slightly longer than the rest of the stitches. Pull the needle through to the back, leaving a small loop of thread on top of the fabric.

4. Bring the needle back through the fabric in the middle of the stitch. Pull the needle all the way through so the stitch is secure. The end of the thread should be coming through the middle of the stitch.

TIP: Be mindful of where your thread sits. As you can see my thread is sitting below my needle. It does not matter if the thread sits above or below the needle but make sure the direction is consistent across your stem stitch.

5. Put the needle back in the fabric to create the next stitch. This stitch can be slightly shorter than the first stitch.

6. Pull the needle through to the back, leaving a small loop of thread on top of the fabric.

7. Bring the needle through from the back of the fabric, place the needle in the end of the last stitch.


8. Pull the needle all the way through so the stitch is secure. The end of the thread should be coming through the middle of the last stitch.

9. Repeat steps 5-8 for the rest of the stem stitch. After a few stitches you should be able to see the rope effect emerging.

Stem Stitch Tips:

* Keep the stitches smaller for curved lines to achieve a smooth rounded look

* Keep the direction of the thread consistent across your stem stitch

* Vary the amount of threads used to change the look of the stem stitch

* Try to keep the length and tension of your stitches consistent to create a smooth uniform finish

I worked a second line of stem stitch using six strands of thread. This shows how changing the thread can change the look of the stitch.

Now we can practice the stem stitch in the next page of our stitch book. If you haven't started your own stitch book yet then click here to find out more.


I started by roughly drawing out the page design onto paper and then transferring onto the fabric using a Frixion pen. It's up to you what you want to include on your page but try to include different shapes.

Gather together some embroidery thread in your chosen colours and begin stitching your page design using the stem stitch.

Vary the amount of strands of embroidery thread you stitch with. This will help you see how changing the amount of threads will work better depending on what you are stitching.

Treat this page as somewhere to experiment with the stitch. Try out different things and see what looks you can achieve. You could even bring in other stitches and start to create your own designs which you could later transfer into your own embroidery projects.

I would love to see how your stitch book is coming together. Tag me on social media @hannahburburydesigns and use the hashtag #hannahburburydesigns




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