Need help choosing hand embroidery stitches for stems and branches?

When choosing the best hand embroidery stitches for lines, the options can seem overwhelming.

However, for beginners, the most important thing to remember is to choose stitches that are easy to learn. Start with simple stitches like the running stitch, back stitch, and chain stitch, and work your way up to more complex stitches as you become more comfortable.

With practice, you'll soon be stitching with confidence!

A crib pillow embroidered with just outlines

A hand embroidery design is usually presented in outline format. You can stitch along the lines, or fill the areas between them. The choice is yours. We will start by looking at line stitches on this page. 

There are many hand embroidery stitches that are an excellent choice for creating simple or intricate lines.

Let's explore alternatives to the classic stem stitch for stalks! Your designs may vary, but there are often common elements between them. Let's discover new possibilities together.


Line stitches for stems and stalks

Floral and botanical designs often feature stems and tendrils, so knowing some basic stitches that will take a curve well is an important part of the embroiderer's skill set.

The examples in the photograph below were all worked in 2 strands of embroidery floss. From left to right I used the following stitches…

Embroidery stitches to use for stems and outlines

Natural forms, such as stems and branches tend to be thicker at the base and taper at the ends. You can represent this by reducing the number of strands as you work your way to the tips.

You could also change to a stitch that gives a narrower line. For example you could start at the base with Broad chain stitch and swap to split stitch as you reach the narrower parts.

Experiment to find just the right combination of stitch and thread!

Hand embroidery stitches for stems with thorns or hairs

If your stems have growths, such as thorns or hairs, you can choose to start at one end and work them simultaneously with the main stem.

Suitable stitches for this type of stem include, from left to right...

These stitches can appear similar, but are worked using different methods.

Some like the fly stitch are worked in a sequence of straight stitches, while others involve looping the thread under the needle each time.

hand embroidery stitches for ferns and greenery

Stitches for knobbly twigs and branches

Sometimes you may like to add some texture to your embroidered lines. Knotted stitches are ideal here. You can also use speciality threads by couching them to the surface.

From left to right...

Embroidery stitches you could use for knobbly lines in your design

Hand embroidery stitches for borders

Time to let your hair down and go wild! Line stitches work well for borders. I also like using the examples in the photograph for crazy quilt seam decoration.

Hand embroidery stitches for borders and wider lines

The Blanket and Cretan stitch samples show two rows of the same stitch in different colored pearl cottons. Working multiple rows in this manner offers many options for borders. Why not try combining different stitches for even more variety!

You may be wondering about the line on the right of the photo? To create this magic chain stitch you thread two colors in the needle. You then alternate which one you lay under the needle for each stitch. I will be adding full instructions for this pretty stitch to the site soon. 

This page has provided you with the perfect ideas for selecting hand embroidery stitches to create stunning lines.

Next time fill stitches will be the stars of the show!

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