Using the Straight Stitch in Embroidery

  • 01 of 03

    About the Straight Stitch

    Sample of embroidering
    Cristina Vladescu / Getty Images

    The straight stitch is a simple embroidery stitch created using a straight, long stitch individually or in groups to form patterns. This popular surface embroidery stitch can be worked on any type of embroidery fabric including plain weave.

    Using straight stitches arranged in groups, you can make simple leaves and flowers or geometric designs. It also works well for creating a textured look in many types of designs. Premark the fabric, or work the stitch freestyle, creating an infinite number of unique patterns. To do the straight stitch, you will need fabric, a needle, and embroidery floss. 

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  • 02 of 03

    Straight Stitch Steps

    Diagram of working a straight stitch
    Cheryl C. Fall

    To work a straight stitch, follow these simple steps:

    1. Bring the needle up through the fabric at the desired starting point.
    2. Insert the needle into the fabric at the opposite end of the stitch where indicated on the pattern.

    It is easy it is to work the straight stitch to make flowers, leaves, or stems.

    Potential Pitfalls

    There are a couple of common problems with straight stitch:

    • Depending on how your finished embroidery will be used, take care that the stitches aren't too long or they may get snagged. A snagged stitch will result in puckering as the previous and next stitch will be pulled towards it. This is especially true for embroidered clothing and household linens. For long straight lines, try couching stitch instead.
    • Working several straight stitches parallel to each other can also start to pull the fabric. Avoid this by stabilizing your material before stitching.
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  • 03 of 03

    Combinations

    Examples of figures made using the straight stitch
    Mollie Johanson

    Straight stitch is so basic that almost seems unnecessary to give directions. But this is a stitch that acts as a building block for your embroidery as you work patterns in a variety of styles.

    The photo shows how straight stitch can become a star, with stitches worked in different lengths. The example on the right is sometimes called point russe stitch, but it is really just a grouping of straight stitches.

    Applications and Examples

    Straight stitch is useful for stitching fur on animal motifs and can be scattered to create a fill, which is referred to as seed stitch. For fur, keep the stitches all going in the general direction that the fur would be growing on an animal, altering the angle of the stitches slightly for visual interest.

    Megan of Studio MME uses straight stitch extensively in her patterns, which results in embroideries that have a sketched, artistic look to them. This humble stitch truly comes alive in landscapes, animal portraits, and other whimsical designs.

    Megan is also a master at using straight stitch to create negative space. Try it yourself by working this stitch all around a pattern that has been outlined with backstitch.

    With ribbon embroidery, a single straight stitch can be quite bold, depending on the ribbon you are using. It makes excellent flower buds, lavender, and bits of foliage. Try using straight stitch in new ways as you work your favorite embroidery patterns. You may just find that it adds the texture and dimension that you've been looking for.