What is the stem stitch and how do I use it?
The stem stitch is a traditional outline stitch in hand embroidery. It has a twisted look, which gives this stitch a flowing texture, different than that of the backstitch or split stitch. It is often used for stems in simple embroidery flowers. In the Stitching Raccoon Sampler, the stem stitch is used for the leaves and stem of the tulip flower.
Stem stitch diagram
Below is what a typical diagram for the stem stitch may look like in an embroidery pattern or on other how-to pages.
See the stem stitch in action:
Follow along with this quick video to see how each step of the stem stitch comes together.
Now, let's walk through each step in the stem stitch together.
Step 1: To begin, bring your needle up at your starting point, then back down about a stitch and a half length away. Do not pull the embroidery floss all the way through yet.
Step 2: Now, bring the needle back up halfway between the stitch and along the stitch line. The needle should be coming out along the side of the stitch, not through the middle of the strands. Pull the thread tight.
Step 3: Keeping your thread to one side, make another stitch, coming back through the last stitch hole along the line. Pull the thread through. Continue working your way forward in this way, keeping the floss along the same side of the stitch each time.
Step 4: To finish, insert your needle down about a stitch length from your last stitch. This should make a seamless final stitch.
Step 5: To go around a 90-degree corner with the stem stitch, insert your needle down at the corner as if you were finishing the line. Now, on the back side of your embroidery, send your needle through the closest loop to secure the last stitch and then come back up at the corner.
Step 6: Continue stitching the other direction repeating the first two steps again. To finish, insert your needle down about a stitch length from your last stitch. This should make a seamless final stitch.
Save it for later
Want to remember how to do the stem stitch? Pin the image below to Pinterest as a quick reference for later!
Give it a try, you can do it!
Now it's your turn to grab a needle, some embroidery floss, and give it a go! Practice the stem stitch, along with other basic embroidery stitches, in the Stitching Raccoon Sampler. Get the embroidery pattern for FREE by signing up below!