Stem Stitch Tutorial

This post is part of my Tutorial Tuesday series.

The stem stitch is another great stitch to learn. This stitch is very similar to last week’s outline stitch, but the key difference is in the placement of the thread. More on that in a bit! The stem stitch, much like the outline stitch, is most often used for curves and outlines.

Start with a straight stitch in your fabric, and pull the thread through until you are left with a small loop.

Push your needle through the fabric partway between the entry and exit points of the first stitch. Pull the thread all the way through until the first stitch lies flat. Now, unlike the outline stitch, you want to hold your thread below your line of stitches. With the outline stitch (see below), you always hold your thread above your stitches.

[Above left: outline stitch with thread above stitch. Above right: stem stitch with thread below stitch.]

With your next stitch, as well as every following stitch, bring your needle up through the entry hole made by your last stitch. Pull the thread all the way through so your stitches lay flat. Try to keep your stitches even in length.

You can see as you progress that these stitches wrap around each other and create a nice seamless line. When you are finished, secure the end of your thread and snip off the extra, leaving a short tail. See two ways to tie off your thread here and here.

Congratulations, you’ve learned the stem stitch!

The stem stitch, like the outline stitch, is great for curves and other non-linear shapes. Try your hand at stitching a flower like the one below.

Find more embroidery tutorials.

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