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8 Decorative Embroidery Border Stitches Everyone Should Learn

These 8 decorative embroidery border stitches are fun and somewhat challenging. If you’re looking for some embroidery stitches that are a bit more advanced, these stitches build off of the basics to form some beautiful and impressive looking stitches.

Tips for Success

For each of the stitches, I have made a chart showing each step. Before we get started, I wanted to share with you some tips that made learning these stitches a bit easier!

  • These stitches involve a lot of weaving in and out of the stitches and sometimes using 6 strand divisible floss can be more challenging because the threads will pull or snag. Because of this, I find it easiest to learn these stitches using non divisible pearl cotton thread.
  • Make sure to draw a line on the fabric before you start so you have something to guide you. It can be easy to veer off and make the border you’re stitching crooked.
  • Focus on placing each stitch as evenly as possible. A lot of these stitches build off of basic stitches such as the chain stitch, running stitch, and back stitch. If your stitches are uneven to begin with, the final product will also be uneven.

Heavy Chain Stitch

Step by step photos of how to do a heavy chain stitch

The heavy chain stitch is a variation of a basic chain stitch. It makes a thicker line and looks very complicated when it’s finished. Luckily, it’s not as complicated as it looks!

  1. Make a small straight stitch at A and B.
  2. Skip some space and bring your thread back up at C. Then place your needle and thread under at D.
  3. Go back down through the fabric at E (in the same hole you made for C) Don’t pull the thread tight yet! You want to leave “wings” as pictured.
  4. Skip some space and come up through the fabric again.
  5. Place your needle over the wings and under the straight stitch you initially made again.
  6. Gently pull the bottom thread where the arrow is pointing. This will tighten the wings you left.
  7. Continue repeating for the desired length, leaving “wings” in order to make the stitch under the center stitch before pulling them tight.

Interlaced Chain Stitch

Step by step instructions for the interlaced chain stitch

Another stitch that builds off of the chain stitch is an interlaced chain stitch. This decorative border stitch is great to use with 2 or 3 contrasting colors.

You can work down both sides of the chain stitch or just one as pictured.

  1. Start with a basic chain stitch. (If you aren’t familiar with how to do a chain stitch, check out this stitch tutorial.)
  2. With a contrasting color, come up at A, skip one chain and place your needle under at B (from right to left) on the right side of the stitch.
  3. Place your needle under at C (from left to right).
  4. Continue working down the entirety of the chain stitch.
  5. Repeat on the other side of the chain stitch if desired.

Pekinese Stitch

how to do the Pekinese stitch

The Pekinese stitch uses a back stitch as the base stitch. It’s another great one to use with 2 different colors.

  1. Make a line of back stitches (tutorial here)
  2. Come up with a second color of thread at A. Skip one stitch and go under the back stitch at B.
  3. Go back under the back stitch above at C from left to right.
  4. Repeat the entire way down the line.

Whipped Running Stitch

how to do a whipped running stitch

Another whipped stitch that builds off of the running stitch. This is a relatively simple and easy stitch for borders. For this example, I spaced out the running stitch quite a bit and made them pretty long. You can easily make shorter stitches and space them out less to tighten things up a bit.

  1. Make a running stitch
  2. Come up right beside the center of the first stitch at A. Take your needle under at B from right to left.
  3. Go under with needle and thread at C from left to right.
  4. Repeat desired length.

Palestrina Stitch

how to do the Palestrina stitch

The Palestrina stitch is a beautiful decorative stitch that almost looks like little beads when it’s finished. It seemed a bit confusing to me when I first learned it but once you practice it a few times it gets way easier!

  1. Make one straight stitch from A to B.
  2. Come up directly beside the base of the stitch at C.
  3. Go under the straight stitch from right to left at D.
  4. Now you will have a loop that forms around the stitch. Place your needle under the “leg” of the stitch on the right at E and over the working thread. Pull tight.
  5. Skip a tiny bit of space and bring your thread back down at F. Now repeat steps 2 – 5.

Make sure you keep your stitches short and even with this one. Also, when you are coming up beside the base of the stitch, don’t leave very much room. If you leave too much room your stitches won’t form as nice of a knot.

Scroll Stitch

step by step instructions for how to do the scroll stitch

Simple, but really beautiful, the scroll stitch is another fun one for borders. With this stitch, you’ll want to be mindful to not pull the thread too tight! Also, I find it easiest to work this horizontally instead of vertically, which you’ll see in the example.

  1. Come up at A and make a loop with your thread.
  2. Grab the fabric through the loop at B and C and gently pull the thread so a little knot forms. Don’t pull too tight though or you’ll pucker the fabric and lose the form of the stitch!
  3. Repeat desired length.

Rope Stitch

how to do the rope stitch

The rope stitch is kind of a combination of a stem stitch and a twisted chain stitch. It can be a little hard to get even and smooth at first, and my example is most definitely not perfect, but it’s a pretty quick and easy way to get a nice solid decorative line.

  1. Come up through the fabric at A. Then, right beside A, grab the fabric with your needle at B and C.
  2. Twist the working thread in a figure 8 pattern across and then under the base of the needle. Pull needle and thread through.
  3. Take your needle directly beside/in the center of the last stitch you made at D and E.
  4. Again, wrap the thread in a figure 8 motion and then pull the thread through.
  5. Repeat.

Wheat Ear Stitch

step by step instructions for how to do the wheat ear stitch

Another variation off the chain stitch, the wheat ear stitch literally looks like an ear of wheat!

  1. Make two stitch stitches that form a “v”.
  2. Come up at C and bring your needle and thread under both straight stitches at D, then back down at C.
  3. Again, make two straight stitches in the form of a V.
  4. Come up through the fabric and back under the base of the chain stitch you made.
  5. Repeat