What are the 15 embroidery stitches

You're sitting at your grandma's house, surrounded by the nostalgic scent of freshly baked cookies and well-worn quilts. As you sip your tea, she excitedly shows you her latest embroidery project. "Let me teach you the 15 essential embroidery stitches," she says with a twinkle in her eye.

She hands you a needle and a colorful skein of thread, and you try your best to follow her instructions. But, as it turns out, the needle has a mind of its own! You start with the basic running stitch, but your clumsy fingers seem to create a chaotic dance of loops and knots instead.

Next up is the backstitch, and you're determined to get it right. You push the needle through the fabric, feeling triumphant, only to realize you've sewn the entire thing backward!

As you move on to the satin stitch, things get messier. You attempt to make smooth, satin-like lines, but yours look more like a zig-zag rollercoaster ride. Grandma chuckles and encourages you to keep going.

Butterflies are cute, right? So, you try the butterfly stitch. However, your butterflies end up looking like abstract blobs that could rival Picasso's art.

Feeling a bit disheartened, you finally tackle the French knot, hoping for a successful finish. But alas, your French knots turn out more like tiny, stubborn mountains refusing to lie flat.

As you look at your mishmash of stitches, you can't help but laugh. Embroidery may not be your natural talent, but the joy of spending time with grandma and sharing a good laugh is worth every tangled thread. You may not have mastered the 15 embroidery stitches, but you've created memories that'll last a lifetime. And who knows, with a bit more practice, your stitches might just turn into unique, one-of-a-kind artwork – or at least make for an amusing story at family gatherings!


Embroidery is an ancient and versatile craft that allows artists to transform plain fabric into exquisite works of art. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced embroiderer, understanding the essential embroidery stitches is fundamental to creating beautiful and intricate designs. In this article, we will explore 15 of the most commonly used embroidery stitches, their applications, and tips for mastering each one.

Running Stitch

The running stitch is the simplest and most basic embroidery stitch. It consists of straight stitches worked in a continuous line. This stitch is commonly used for outlining and adding fine details to designs.


The backstitch is a strong and sturdy stitch ideal for creating outlines and defining shapes. It involves stitching backward and then forward through the same hole to create a solid line.

Split Stitch

The split stitch is similar to the backstitch but has a more textured appearance. It is excellent for creating delicate contours and adding dimension to your embroidery.

Stem Stitch

The stem stitch is a graceful and elegant stitch commonly used for creating flowing lines, such as stems and vines. It produces a rope-like effect and can be used for outlining and filling.

Satin Stitch

The satin stitch is perfect for filling large areas with smooth, glossy threads. It involves stitching side by side in a straight or zigzag manner to create a solid, satin-like finish.

Long and Short Stitch

The long and short stitch, also known as shading or thread painting, is used to create realistic color gradients and shading. By varying the length of the stitches, you can achieve a painterly effect that mimics the texture of brush strokes.

French Knot

The French knot is a small, decorative stitch used to create raised dots and texture in your embroidery. It can be tricky to master, but with practice, you can use it to add dimension and detail to your designs.

Chain Stitch

The chain stitch is a popular stitch used for creating decorative borders and outlining shapes. It forms a chain-like line and can be used to add texture and dimension to your embroidery.

Lazy Daisy Stitch

The lazy daisy stitch, also known as the detached chain stitch, is used to create floral motifs and petal-like shapes. It is a fun and versatile stitch that can add a whimsical touch to your designs.

Feather Stitch

The feather stitch resembles the shape of feathers and is often used for creating decorative borders and floral designs. It can be worked in a straight line or in a curve, making it adaptable to various patterns.

Fishbone Stitch

The fishbone stitch is excellent for creating leaf shapes and other intricate designs. It involves stitching angled stitches on both sides of a centerline, resulting in a fishbone-like pattern.

Couching Stitch

Couching is a technique where a thicker thread or ribbon is laid on the fabric and then stitched down with a thinner thread. This stitch is ideal for adding texture and dimension to your embroidery.

Bullion Knot

The bullion knot, also known as the grub knot, is a decorative stitch used to create raised coils and loops. It adds a three-dimensional aspect to your embroidery and can be used for floral motifs and ornate designs.

Herringbone Stitch

The herringbone stitch is a versatile stitch used for filling areas, creating borders, and adding texture. It forms a distinctive V-shaped pattern and is widely used in traditional and contemporary embroidery.

Seed Stitch

The seed stitch, also known as the speckling stitch, is ideal for creating a textured and speckled effect. It involves working small, random stitches close together to fill an area with scattered dots.


Embroidery is a captivating art form that allows for endless creativity and expression. By mastering the 15 essential embroidery stitches mentioned above, you can create intricate and stunning designs on various fabrics. Remember, practice and patience are key to improving your embroidery skills. As you explore different stitches and techniques, you'll discover the joy of transforming a blank canvas into a vibrant tapestry of colors and textures. So pick up your needle, thread your favorite colors, and let your imagination run wild as you delve into the timeless art of embroidery. Happy stitching!

Annabel Buser