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3 key embroidery filling stitches for your embroidery designs

by Christine Baker

Yesterday on QUILTsocial we learned about different threads and needles, and how to do five simple embroidery stitches. We made these stitches with different types of DMC Embroidery Floss, a couple of different weights of DMC Perle Cottons, and various sizes of Clover Chenille Needles.

Today we’re learning about three different embroidery stitches that are useful for filling in areas in your embroidery designs. I’m again using Clover Chenille Needles for all of these stitches.

Even though the chenille needles have a large eye, you may still have problems with threading them. There are lots of needle threaders available on the market, but I particularly like the Clover Embroidery Threader because it has a flat tip that makes for smooth threading even when you use it with thick threads. It also works with all types of threads, yarns and embroidery needles, so it’s a super versatile tool to have on hand.

A pair of hands use a green Clover Embroidery Threader to thread orange DMC perle cotton thread through the eye of a Clover Chenille Needle.

Threading a needle with the Clover Embroidery Threader

Stitch 1 – Satin stitch

In order for the satin stitch to be effective for filling in an area, the stitches should be even and placed close together. Sometimes using a hoop to hold your fabric makes it easier to achieve better tension. I don’t use a hoop when I’m doing my wool embroidery, but I do find that the 6” UNIQUE Craft Plastic Embroidery Hoop is a nice size to hold in your hand, and it keeps the DMC Charles Craft Monaco Needlework Fabric nice and secure while I’m stitching.

To do this stitch, make a single straight stitch from one edge of your area to the opposite edge. Bring the needle back to the front, very close to the stitch just made, and back down on the opposite side of the shape. Continue until you fill in the shape. This stitch is only really useful for filling in small areas because a long satin stitch can snag and become loose.

A black and white diagram demonstrates how to stitch a satin stitch.

A satin stitch diagram

To give your satin stitch a more defined edge, outline your area with either a back stitch or a chain stitch and then do the satin stitch over top.

I used the satin stitch and a back stitch to embroider the word ‘Needles’ on the DMC Magic Paper which is fused to the Charles Craft Monaco Needlework Fabric. The variegated DMC Perle Cotton #106 size 8 worked well to cover the area and looks lovely.

A close-up photo of a word embroidered with orange variegated DMC perle cotton and a satin stitch; DMC Charles Craft Monaco Needlework Fabric 28ct 20" x 24" - Tea Dyed, DMC Magic Paper, DMC Pearl Cotton Size 8 (80m) Thread Balls

The satin stitch created with DMC variegated size 8 perle cotton

Stitch 2 – Long and short stitch

This is a variation on the satin stitch where you do long and short stitches beside each other to break up the area so you don’t have super long satin stitches that can get snagged. With this method, keep stitching and overlapping with different lengths of stitches until you fill in the entire area.

A black and white diagram demonstrates how to stitch a long and short stitch.

A long and short stitch diagram

This is the stitch I used to fill in my purple flower with one of the satin flosses from the DMC Radiant Treasures pack. The satin floss has a lovely sheen to it.

A close-up photo of the purple petals of a flower are stitched using Rayon DMC floss and a long and short stitch. The corner of the photo shows a small piece of the flower center stitched with yellow embroidery floss. The beige DMC Charles Craft Monaco Needlework Fabric is in the background.

The purple flower petals stitched with a long and short stitch

Notice in the photo that I used the back stitch to outline the petals afterwards, just to give them a more finished look.

Stitch 3 – Fly stitch

Th fly stitch can be used in different ways depending on how close together you place the stitches. You can also stitch them solo in a freeform manner (like in the left part of the diagram), or place them together in a row (like in the right part of the diagram).

To make the fly stitch, bring the thread up at the top left and insert the needle at the top right, and then make a stitch between and below the two points. With the thread wrapped under the tip of the needle, pull the thread through the fabric, and then secure with a small vertical straight stitch.

A black and white diagram demonstrates how to make a fly stitch.

A fly stitch diagram

Here are two leaf shapes I made using the fly stitch. As you can see, I stacked my stitches very close together and followed the shape of the outside of the leaf to determine how wide to make each stitch. The small vertical stitches that secure the bottom of each fly stitch also serve to make a vein in the center of each leaf. The variegated size DMC #94 Size 8 perle cotton gives the leaves a beautiful and interesting look.

 A close-up of the beige Charles Craft Monaco Needlework Fabric shows two green leaves stitched with DMC #94 size 8 perle cotton using a fly stitch.

Two leaves stitched with a fly stitch and DMC #94 size 8 variegated perle cotton

Stitch 4 – Variation on chain stitch

I love stitching the chain stitch, especially with variegated thread! Here is one of my flowers stitched with a continuous spiral chain stitch. I started stitching on the outside of the circle and then kept stitching in a continuous chain inward until I got to the middle.

A close-up of the beige Charles Craft Monaco Needlework Fabric shows a round flower head stitched with DMC size 8 perle cotton using a spiral chain stitch. A green stem is shown below the flower.

A chain stitched in a spiral using variegated DMC perle cotton makes a flower head

Use the satin stitch to embroider the word ‘Needles’ and the rest of these stitches to fill in some of the flower and leaf shapes. Remember to change the size of the Clover Chenille Needle depending on the weight of the DMC Thread you’re using and if you’re still finding it hard to thread your needle, use a needle threader like the Clover Embroidery Threader.

Now that we’ve learned all of these neat filler stitches, tomorrow I’ll to show you some of my new favorite stitches – four stitches that are wrapped or cast on using Clover Gold Eye Milliners Needles.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 2: 5 simple embroidery stitches to sew by hand on evenweave fabric

Go to part 4: 4 essential stitches that add dimension to your embroidery


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