Techniques Guide to Hand Embroidery Designs

In this page, we will give some tips on hand embroidery designs, basic techniques that have been successfully deployed over the years, across the world. The various techniques can be classifed under the broad name of stitches and are listed as below.

Running stitch - Running stitch is considered as one of the basics under hand embroidery designs. Running stitch is basically used for outlines and padding. In simple words, interweaving the needle and the cloth in equidistant spaces is running stitch. To make this more decorative, we generally use threaded running stitch. This is a running stitch plus colour threads interspersed to give the needed look. Whipped running stitch is the same as the above, the only difference being that the coloured thread is rotated around the running stitch.

Stem stitch - Stem stitch is often used for finishing the edges of filling stitches as well as for other patterns also. This stitch is worked from left to right. We have to bring the needle up through fabric to right side on the line to be outlined. Holding the thread toward you, take a short slanting backstitch along stamped line. Make the next and each successive stitch from right to left and bring the needle out to the left at the end of previous stitch. Repeat along Line, keeping stitches small and uniform. It can be made more decorative by whipping one or two contrast coloured threads over simple stem stitch.

Back stitch - Backstitch is used for patterns in which lines has to be made. Take a small running stitch, insert needle at end of running stitch, thrust needle through to wrong side and over twice as much space as original stitch on wrong side; bring needle to right side and repeat. Backstitch looks more attractive when threaded with one or two contrast colour or by crossing the thread over it. Hand embroidery designers make ample use of this stitch for beautifying their work.

Fish bone stitch - Fish bone stitch is mostly used for filling the pattern of leaves. Hand embroidery designers make ample use of this stitch for pillow covers and bedsheet decoratives. Both the threads are run down the two halves of the leaf in opposite directions. Due to this, there is a light and shade effect on both the sides of the leaf, which makes the design look lively.

Satin stitch - In Hand embroidery designs, if any pattern is to be filled, this is the way to go. The threads are close and parallel to each other in an uniform pattern with an equal thread tension. By thread tension, we mean the pressure with which the thread has been pulled. It gives a smooth texture.

Lazy daisy stitch - This simple and easy stitch is mostly used for making petals of flowers. The technique is to make petals by making loops. First we must bring the needle up at the inner point of the loop holding the thread toward us. Thrust needle down at the inner point of the loop, 1 or 2 threads to right of the point where thread emerges; bring point of needle out at outer end of the loop, going over thread. Draw loop up to cover petal, thrust needle down outside of loop to fasten it in place. Bring needle out at the inner point of next petal.

Cross stitch - This is among the more popular forms of hand embroidery designs. Cross stitch is made by crossing the two strokes of threads. It is used for filling the pattern. Make slanting stitch from lower left to upper right corner of cross. Make a second slanting stitch from lower right to upper left corner of cross. All crosses should be worked the same way to give a uniform appearance to the work. In working long rows with the same color, all stitches slanting in one direction may be made across the row, then work back, crossing all stitches in the other direction. The whole process gives the effect of uniform weave.

Chain stitch - Chain stitch is a series of overlapped loop. Bring thread to right side of material, hold thread toward you with left thumb, take a stitch into same hole where thread was brought up, forming a small loop. Make a second loop overlapping the first one. Continue along marked line.

Listed below are some other famous techniques in hand embroidery designs:

Plaited stitch - Plaited stitched is used for those patterns where satin stitch is not suitable like wide areas, its texture is a little different than satin stitch.

Velvet stitch - Velvet stitch is used for those patterns where a carpet like finish is needed, like the center of a flower.

Feather stitch - Feather stitch can be used for any type of cloth. It has many varieties.

Button hole stitch - Button hole stitch is originally used for hand made button holes but it can be used for making different patterns.

French knots - French knots are made of twisting thread on the needle. This beautiful knots looks like beads.

Pin stitches - Pin stitching is used for straight finished hems and edges.

Roman stitches - Roman Stitches, like plaited stitch can be used in place of satin stitch. But its texture is different than satin and plaited stitch.

Colonial knots - Colonial knots can be used in place of French knots. These knots are easier than French knots.

Blanket stitch - Blanket stitch is often used for holding the edges of fabric. It gives them neat finish.

Bullion stitch - Bullion stitch is made by rotating the thread over the needle and then pulled carefully. It is mostly used for making petals of flower like small roses.

Couching stitch - Couching stitch is used for holding cords and threads. It looks more attractive when other stitches are combined with it.

Under the umbrella of hand embroidery designs, the above mentioned are used most of the time. There are other techniques which might not be mentioned here, which might either be regional in nature OR not in vogue.

Where can I learn how to hand embroider ?

a) Secrets of Embroidery : This site has over 2000 pages with a large collection of hand embroidery designs and also projects which will help you choose your pick.

b) ArtisticThreadWorks : You have unlimited design downloads with a small membership fee. This website has a well classified design library, which enables an easy search.

c) Shalin-Craft : This is famous for its hand embroidered designs.

d) America's Sewing & Embroidery Center : A hybrid website with a lot of information on hand embroidery designs as well as other forms of embroidery.

e) Embroidery Designs Our own digitized designs. $12.95 per set or $45.00 for everything. : Designs By Sick : This is a small site but contains some good unique hand embroidery designs.

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