How to Use the Straight Stitch in Embroidery

Directly Above Shot Of Needle And Thread On Fabric
Cristina Vladescu / EyeEm / Getty Images
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    Working Straight Stitch

    Working the Basic Straight Stitch. © Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to

    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 plainweave.

    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 work a straight stitch, bring the needle up through the fabric at the desired starting point and insert the needle into the fabric at the opposite end of the stitch where indicated on the pattern.

    Depending on how your finished embroidery will be used, take care that the stitches aren't too long or they may get snagged. 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.

    The diagram above shows how easy it is to work the straight stitch to make flowers, leaves or stems and the following page gives more examples for its use.

    Updated by Mollie Johanson

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    Completed Straight Stitch Combinations

    Straight Stitch Examples
    Straight Stitch Examples. © Mollie Johanson

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

    The photo above 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.

    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 back stitch!

    Within 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 a texture and dimension that you've been looking for!