How to Work a Star Embroidery Stitch

Star stitch embroidery practice

artethgray / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Overview
  • Total Time: 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Star stitch, sometimes called a twinkle stitch, is a simple embroidery stitch made with straight stitches. It's perfect for sprinkling little details in and around your embroidery. There are a few ways to make the stitches in this family, and the diagrams here and examples below will show you how.

As their name suggests, tiny star stitches make excellent stars in a nightscape or for stitching constellations. They're good for adding a bit of "twinkle" to projects, with or without the sparkly floss. When stitched in white, these stitches resemble snowflakes in a winter scene but are transformed into miniature flowers when worked in bright colors alongside other florals. It's even a great scattered fill stitch! 

You can make a star with a few straight stitches that all share a common point in the middle and then radiate out, similar to an eyelet stitch or the start of a spider web stitch. The version you'll see here resembles a collection of cross stitches instead. Try adding star stitch to your embroidery any time you need a little something extra.

Notes

Practice on a small square of cotton or other fabric of your choice, using needles of type and size appropriate to the fabric.

Star stitch is composed of straight stitches layered on top of one another. The needle is taken up and down through the fabric over a common center point. If you can make a straight stitch, you can make star stitches!

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Embroidery hoop sized for practice cloth
  • Embroidery needle, size between 1 and 5
  • Small sharp scissors
  • Pencil or water soluble marker
  • Ruler

Materials

  • Small square of cotton fabric for practicing
  • Six-strand embroidery floss

Instructions

  1. Getting Ready

    If you are still learning to stitch, go ahead and mark your fabric with a few practice lines. Draw short lines of the desired stitch length crossed and criss-crossed as shown below. Use a ruler and a water-soluble pen or a pencil.

    Place the fabric in the hoop. Cut a 12 to ​14-inch length of six-strand embroidery floss and thread it through the embroidery needle. Knot the other end.

  2. Working Star Stitch

    To begin, bring the needle up from the back of the fabric to the front at the top of the vertical line in the crosses (1).

    1. Take the needle down at the bottom of the line, making a vertical stitch (2).
    2. Bring the needle up at the left end of the horizontal line in the middle of the first stitch (3). Take the needle down at the right end of the horizontal line, making a horizontal stitch (4).
    3. Bring the needle up at the bottom of the left-slanting line (5), between (4) and (2). Take the needle down at the top end of the diagonal line (6), between (1) and (3).
    4. Bring the needle up at the bottom of the right-slanting line (7), between (3) and (2). Take the needle down at the top end of the diagonal line (8), between (1) and (4).

    The 8-pointed star is complete.

    Star Stitch Diagram
    Mollie Johanson
  3. Star Variations

    The 8-pointed star stitch looks a lot like a Smyrna cross-stitch, and when worked on evenweave fabric, the material itself gives you a framework for achieving even stitches. In surface embroidery, however, you have a lot of flexibility with how to work this stitch. With the basic star under your belt, try variations: make the arms different lengths, or use a different number of arms. 

    A longer vertical stitch, with the smaller stitches toward the top makes a star with a bit of a tail. If you make the vertical and horizontal stitches longer and the diagonal stitches shorter, you significantly alter the star's look. Instead of working four straight stitches, use just three stitches to make a 6-pointed stitch. 

    Conversely, try making the stitch with more points. When adding more straight stitches, a small star can start to look a bit crowded and less like a star. Sometimes that's the look you're going for, but if you want to see all those points, use fewer strands of embroidery floss or make the stitch larger.

    If you are making larger star stitches, you may find that the center is a little loose or that it is prone to snagging. Fix this with a tiny tacking stitch in the center, as shown on one of the 6-point stars pictured.

    Star Stitch Variations
    Mollie Johanson