Carol's basic embroidery stitches

For me, the joy of needlework for me starts with choosing the basic embroidery stitches I want to use in a project. I have been stitching since childhood and over the (many) years since then I have built up a long list of favourites.

But what if you are new to the hobby and don't yet have that knowledge?

"Start with a kit", a friend might tell you. Great advice, but unless the instructions show you how to work each different stitch, you might still struggle. When you finish the kit, what happens next?

You might know a few stitches by name and search the web for them to get some ideas. Or you might have entered "basic embroidery stitches" and ended up here.

Consider this page your introduction to not only new stitches but also different embroidery techniques ready for you to discover and enjoy. 

Before you start

Think about how you will use your embroidered item when it is complete and how practical your stitch choice might prove to be. 

  • Are you making a pillowcase?  Smooth stitches might be the most comfortable to rest your head on
  • Likewise, your china will not stand steady on a tablecloth embroidered with bumpy stitches 
  • Will your item need regular washing? Long stitches could snag and catch 
  • Do you want a delicate effect or something chunkier?

Create your own sampler

How about testing a stitch on a scrap of fabric before putting the time into including it in your project, only to find out it is not the best choice?

In fact, your tests could turn into a project of their own - a sampler. If you were a Victorian child, this is something you would have done at school. After trying out stitches, keep your sampler in your needlework basket as a reference for future projects.

You can vary the stitches, either intentionally or by making "happy little accidents", to add to your repertoire. How else do you think new stitches came into existence over the years?

The basic embroidery stitches list(s)

I have split the lists below. Some are suitable for certain techniques, but there is nothing stopping you from using them as you see fit. 

You might, for example, be looking for line stitches to work some lettering, or for something to fill an area such as an embroidered flower or leaf


Basic embroidery stitches for surface work

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