• Catriona Thomson

5 embroidery stitches which are perfect for beginners

Updated: Jan 9

These five stitches are a mix of line stitches, filler stitches and an isolated stitch, giving you a good set of basic stitches to start creating your own designs. Read a little about each one here, then click through to find out how to do the stitch on our stitches and techniques pages.

Back stitch

Back stitch is an excellent stitch for outlining shapes as it provides a continuous line of stitching. It’s an easy one to learn and is very versatile – often used for outlining shapes on even-weave fabric for designs in cross stitch and needlepoint as well as in embroidery designs.

In this example, you can see how I've used back stitch both to create the grid the smaller motifs sit in, and to outline the gingerbread man and the string of fairy lights, just showing how versatile this stitch is.


Satin stitch

Satin stitch is a really good stitch to have in your arsenal – simple and very effective for filling block shapes and the simplest option for more intricate or difficult shapes. It can take a bit of practice to space your stitches correctly so that you can’t see any of the fabric behind your stitching.

Satin stitch is the stitch used in our ice cream hoop art to create the whipped ice cream in the cone. It's also really effective if you're using a variegated thread, as in the case in this image, since it's a simple stitch and really shows off any colour-changing threads. Sign up to our mailing list to get the pattern for this hoop art completely free to practice your satin stitch and create this charming design.


Blanket stitch

I’ve included blanket stitch as a good stitch for beginners, just because it’s so versatile – handy as a linear decorative stitch, for edging either a shape or a piece of fabric, applique and joining two pieces of fabric together. Blanket stitch would have traditionally been stitched to create a neat finish on the edge of blankets, they’ve evolved since their very functional use, so here’s how to do basic blanket stitch, but there are lots of variations for decorative versions as well.

In this example you can see I've joined the felt shapes together, edging the turtle shell at the same time and creating the distinctive black markings on the top of the Blue Tang fish. In the sample on the right you can see blanket stitch has been used to applique the felt tree trunk to the backing fabric, as well as it just used on its own as a decorative stitch.


Brick stitch

Brick stitch is another filler stitch, but unlike satin stitch it has a bit more texture to it due to the stitches being staggered, hence the name, like a row of bricks. Once you've worked it up it looks like a woven texture, so really effective for baskets, interior textures and fences in landscape scenes.







French knots

French knots were my Achilles' heel for a very long time - there is a certain knack to them, and if you don't catch the thread properly in your stitch you might end up with a small stitch instead of a nice textured knot. They're worth the practice to get the hang of them, and if you are struggling, take a look at our tutorial video on the stitches and techniques page to help you.

They're a really versatile stitch though, great for adding texture when clustered together, as is the case with these French knots used for leaves on this tree in our Woodland Hoop art, or equally very effective when used for individual details, such as eyes on animals or the centre of a flower. Once you've started using them, I'm sure you'll want to dot them on everything!


I hope you've found these a useful starting point - there are so many hand embroidery stitches to choose from it was not easy to narrow it down to just five, but this mix of stitches which can be used for different purposes should give you a good springboard to start your own embroidery designs. Leave your comments below to let us know what you think.

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