How to Work Satin Stitch in Hand Embroidery

Man hands embroidered cross on the canvas. Wooden table and thread stranded cotton.
Irina Vodneva / Getty Images
  • 01 of 04

    Working the Basic Satin Stitch

    Basic Satin Stitch Diagram
    Mollie Johanson

    Basic satin stitch is an easy filling stitch that can be used to fill smaller areas. This stitch is sometimes referred to as a flat satin stitch because the stitches lay flat on the fabric.

    Other variations of the satin stitch include the long and short satin stitch, padded satin stitch, outlined satin stitch and shaded satin stitch.

    To work the basic satin stitch, bring the needle up through the fabric at your starting point.

    Insert the needle again across from your original entry point, on the opposite side of the shape you are filling.

    Bring the needle up on the side of the shape where you started and go back down on the opposite side.

    Repeat the process to make additional stitches, always coming up and going back down on the opposite side from where your needle came up or went down.

    Take care that you don't pull the stitches too tight or it will pull the fabric in and cause puckering. Stabilizing your fabric first can help.

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  • 02 of 04

    Tips and Tricks

    Satin Stitch Example
    Mollie Johanson

    Traditionally satin stitch fills in an area without an outline around it. This means that the stitching should form smooth shapes and even lines. Evenweave fabric can make this tricky at times, as the spaces designed for stitches create a "stepped" effect with your satin stitch.

    When working this stitch to create curves, adjust the placement of the stitches incrementally, and know that some shapes require that you take a stitch in a different way than you might expect. For example, when stitching the end of the oval above, the ends are straight, but that's what gives the right look.

    The more you work this stitch, the better you'll get at eyeing how to get the shapes you want. Until then, take a few stitches and see if it looks right. If they don't, pull them out and adjust them.


    If your satin stitch isn't giving you the straight edges you want, you can outline the area with a backstitch or stem stitch. For a subtle outline, use the same color embroidery floss. For a slight shadowed outline, you can use a similar color for the fill. For a bold look that pops, outline with black embroidery floss.

    With satin stitch within an outline, it's easier to do the fill stitching first so that you aren't trying to avoid catching the outline stitches with your needle. This also ensures that the outline will be snug around your satin stitch.


    A finished satin stitch should have a smooth appearance to it, although you can work some other texture into it if you desire. For example, you might add a bit of couching amid satin stitch to do this. Tacking down the satin stitch also helps prevent snagging on long stitches.

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  • 03 of 04

    Working the Padded Satin Stitch

    Padded Satin Stitch Diagram
    Mollie Johanson

    Use padded satin stitch, sometimes referred to as a raised satin stitchto fill smaller raised areas. The padding gives added depth and dimension to the design area. Small seed stitches (shown), running stitch, stem stitch or other embroidery stitches under the satin stitch create the padding.

    To work this stitch, fill the inside of the design area with your chosen stitch for padding.

    Next, work the satin stitch over the padding stitches: bring the needle up through the fabric at your starting point. Then, insert the needle again across from your original entry point, on the opposite side of the shape you are filling, as if you are working the basic satin stitch.

    Repeat the process to make additional stitches.

    Tip: Instead of stitches, try padding the stitches with fusible interfacing, fusible fleece or felt cut to shape and tacked in place.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Working the Long and Short Stitch

    Long & Short Satin Stitch Diagram
    Mollie Johanson

    Long & short stitch is a type of satin stitch used to fill large areas of a design and is commonly used in flower petals or other shaped where you want greater detail.

    Work this stitch in a single color or create subtle shading by using varying shades of a single color. For a bold look or rainbow effect, use multiple colors throughout the stitching, changing colors every few rows.

    To work the stitch, work a row of stitches along the top of the outline, alternating long and short stitches.

    Next, work long stitches in the gaps created when working the short stitches, working in rows until you fill in the entire area.