Split decision? Choose how to use Split Stitch

Split stitch is often used to outline an area before filling it with satin stitch, but why stop there?

Would it surprise you to learn that I used it for the majority of this floral design? I added stem stitch for the dark green stems, 3 french knots, and 3 straight stitches.

It works well as a line stitch, but as this project illustrates, it also makes a good filling stitch. Let's look in more details at how I used it in this design...

Split stitch floral designTulips worked in split stitch, stem stitch and french knots
  1. Lines in 2 strands mid-green floss 
  2. Lines in 1 strand mid green mixed with 1 strand light green 
  3. Close rows using 2 strands of light green to fill this, and the other solid leaf 
  4. Two different shades of green used together to fill
  5. Yellow, orange, then red floss used in short, staggered rows to give a shaded effect to the tulips



For sections 2 and 4, I threaded the needle with two different shades of floss. However, I used a slightly different technique for each. For the outlined leaf I kept the lighter color on the same side for every stitch. When stitching the solid leaf, I let them randomly change sides to give a more variegated effect.

embroidered acornAcorn worked in split stitch and coral knots

This little acorn also uses split stitch, for the nut itself. Rows of textured coral stitch make up the cup and stalk which adds contrast. 

I used 2 strands of floss for the acorn and 3 for the cup.

How to work Split Stitch

I prefer to work this stitch with my fabric kept taut in an embroidery hoop. I then work in the stab stitch method, with one hand above and the other below the fabric.

Work from left to right, starting with a short straight stitch. Bring the needle back to the front, halfway between the start and end of that stitch, piercing the thread. If you use two strands it is easier to slip the needle between them. 

Split stitch diagram

When you work adjacent rows, vary the length of your stitches so that they start in different places and don't form a visible line. 

On close inspection you will see that the stitch gives the illusion of a fine chain. It gives a smooth finish, emphasized when you use a shiny fiber. This makes it a useful alternative for areas that are too large to fill with satin stitch..

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