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A guide to embroidery stitches

Be a sewing star with these embroidery tips

Posted: 10 March 2009

rock star baby carpet
The backstitch is a basic embroidery stitch and is used decoratively in many of the softie projects. It is called backstitching because you move the needle a stitch backward before sewing the next stitch.

To backstitch: The backstitch is worked from right to left. Place the threaded needle under the fabric and bring it up all the way through at the point where you want to begin, point (1) in illustration A. Insert the needle into point (2), go under the fabric, and come back out at point (3), which is one stitch length ahead of point (1). You now have one completed stitch.

To make the next stitch, insert the needle into point (2) in illustration B – originally point (1) in illustration A – and repeat the sequence, keeping your stitches the same length and tension and moving backward and forward in a straight line. If you keep the stitches small and close, they will resemble stitches made by a sewing machine, as shown in illustration C.

Blanket stitch

rock star baby carpet
The blanket stitch is typically used to close seams or add decoration when layering elements. The Paper Doll Dress uses a blanket stitch to close seams.

To blanket stitch: The blanket stitch is generally worked from left to right, with the thread moving between two parallel lines. Bring the threaded needle up through the fabric at point (1), on the bottom line. Then insert it at point (2) on the top line, and come back out at point (3), directly below. Before pulling the needle all the way through, make sure the thread is under the needle, as shown in illustration A.

Start the next stitch by inserting the needle at point (2) as shown in illustration B, and bring the needle out at point (3). Continue working across the fabric this way, keeping height and width the same.

French knot

rock star baby carpet
The French knot is easy to make and produces a round knot that can be used for the center of a flower or the eyes on your softie. You could add French knots to create a series of decorative dots. To make a French knot: Bring the needle up at point (1). Hold the thread tightly in your left hand (or in your right hand if you’re a left handed sewer), and wrap it around the needle twice, as shown. Carefully insert the needle near point (1) and pull the thread through (be careful not to use the exact hole, or the thread will pull through and you’ll have to start all over). That’s it – you’ve made a French knot. To make a bigger knot, wrap more twists of thread (or yarn) around the needle and /or use more strands of floss in your needle.

Lazy Daisy stitch

rock star baby carpet
The lazy daisy stitch is a variation of the classic chain stitch and is designed to look like the petals on a flower. This stitch is used on Charlotte with Her Fedora and Dorian the Dog. You can add it as a decorative touch to other softies.

To make a lazy daisy: This stitch is worked in a circle. Bring the needle out from below at point (1) in illustration A, insert the needle back through the same hole, and exit at point (2), all in one smooth movement. Keep the thread under the needle as you pull it through. Insert the needle at point (3) in illustration B over the loop and bring the needle out at new point (1). Continue stitching around a center point to form a circle of petals.

Running stitch

rock star baby carpet
The running stitch is simple to make. Just be careful to keep the length of your stitches and the space in between them the same length. The Chick in a Bonnet project is a good example of how a running stitch is used to decorate a curved edge.

To sew a running stitch: The running stitch is generally sewn from right to left. Bring your threaded needle up at point (1), then back down through the fabric at point (2). Skip a space that is equal to the length of the stitch you’ve just made, and come up at point (3). Repeat to continue the line.

Satin stitch

rock star baby carpet
Satin stitches are used to fill in an area with floss. they make good noses for softies. The stitch itself is easy to do, but it may take some practice to get the fill stitches lined up evenly and flat. Be sure to fill in the designated area with enough sttiches so the fabric underneath doesn’t show through.

To sew a satin stitch: Bring a threaded needle up through the fabric at point (1), then insert it back down in the fabric at point (2). Bring the needle back up at point (3), next to point (1), and repeat the process to fill in the area. For a round nose, it’s best to start the first stitch in the middle of the nose and then fill in to the right and left with successively smaller stitches. Be consistent so that both filled sides match and the nose is round.


rock star baby carpet
A whipstitch is a good stitch for closing a seam – and it’s very forgiving for a beginner embroiderer since it’s intended to have an unfinished sort of look. Party Cake uses this stitch for all of its seams. Using a contrasting colour of floss with your whipstitch will make it stand out. The length of the stitch and angle will vary depending on the design and size of the softie. Sew yours to look like the softie pictured or adjust to reflect your own style. To sew a whipstitch: Working with two cut edges held together with wrong sides facing, bring the needle up at point (1), then insert the needle from behind the fabric and bring it up at point (2). Continue taking angled stitches across the seam, keeping the angle, stitch length, and distance between them even. That’s all there is to it.

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embroidery, children's craft, toys, handiwork, backstitch, whipstitch, satin stitch, running stitch, French knot

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