Lesson: How to Embroider Stem Stitch
Learn the elegant rope-like stem stitch!
Jump to section:
- Item to embroider
- Embroidery hoop
- Omegacryl or embroidery floss
- Sticky Fabri-Solvy (optional, pictured here)
Start with a stitch-length forward, a little longer than you’d normally stitch, on the top side of your fabric.
Pull through most of the way, but leave the stitch loose and hanging downwards, away from your design.
Enter back into the fabric from the underside, directly in between the beginning and end of your first stitch. Continue to keep that previous stitch loop below your active stitch.
Pull to secure the first stitch.
Next, enter back into your fabric through the top side one stitch length, slightly shorter than your first stitch length. Again, pull through most of the way, but leave the stitch loose and hanging downwards, away from your design.
Bring your needle up from the underside through the end of the previous stitch, going through the same hole. Continue to keep that previous stitch loop below your active stitch.
IMPORTANT TIP: Always keep that stitch loop below your needle in relation to your stitching from left-to-right. If you get confused, hold your work so that your stitches travel from left to right, then your loop will go below your needle.
Continue steps 5 and 6 along the outline of your design.
Once you get a hang of the stitch, you can try speeding up the process with the sewing method. This means catching the holes pictured in steps five and six at the same time, going down into the new stitch hole then up through the hole that's the end of the previous stitch with your needle through both holes at once. Keep the loop hanging below & tighten to secure. Repeat!
Stitching Around Curves
Keep consistent the relationship between your loosened previous stitch loop and the active needle. That loop should always fall to the same side as the previous stitch, even as you go around curves.
To Turn a Sharp Corner - 1
Finish your straight line by completing your last stitch at the end of the line, following the instructions in the previous step.
To Turn a Sharp Corner - 2
Then, start a fresh line on the next straight line segment of your design, stitching ahead one longer-than-usual stitch.
To Turn a Sharp Corner - 3
Repeat steps three and four before moving on to stitching as usual.
Continue stitching around your design until it's complete! Don't hesitate to turn your design as you go to ensure you're stitching left-to-right with the loop hanging below the needle.
When you get almost to the end of your design or line segment within a design, finish by stitching one final small stitch. Go through the topside of the fabric at the very end of your line and pull to secure the stitch, leaving no previous stitch loop hanging down.
Secure your last stitch on the back of your design to finish! If you used Fabri-Solvy like we did here, run your design under warm water until the Solvy dissolves completely. Let dry, then enjoy your embroidered creation!
Apply your new-found skill to create awesome things! Here’s a round-up of project inspiration.