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10 Great Embroidery Stitches For Filling Large And Small Areas

If you’ve been embroidering for even a small amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that you have a handful of stitches that have become your go-to’s. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s always fun to try and get out of your comfort zone by practicing and using stitches you don’t ordinarily use. Today I’m sharing 10 creative and fun embroidery fill stitches that you can (and should!) try out in your next project. You never know, maybe one will become your new favorite!

Download the traceable flower design to follow along and learn each of the stitches.

Basket Weave

The basket weave stitch looks like a woven basket or lattice. It’s the perfect fill stitch to add texture into an area. You can use one color or multiple colors for this stitch.

basket weave stitch step 1

Start by making straight stitches that are evenly spaced out across a shape.

step 2

Start at the top edge of the shape. Using a tapestry needle, weave your needle through the horizontal stitches, alternating under and over them.

step 3

End each stitch by going down through the fabric at the edge of the shape.

step 4

Continue making these woven stitches, alternating the stitches you weave under. For example, If the previous stitch weaved under, over, under, over, the next stitch should weave over, under, over, under the horizontal stitches.

completed basket weave stitch using green and yellow thread

Repeat this process until the entire shape is filled in.

Burden Stitch

This next stitch looks very similar to the basket weave stitch, but it doesn’t involve weaving through the stitches. It’s another great fill stitch to use for adding pops of color and texture.

This stitch looks best when you use contrasting colors. You can play around with how close together or far apart you make the horizontal and vertical stitches depending on how dense or open you’d like the fill to be.

burden stitch step 1

Similar to the basket weave stitch, start by making evenly spaced out horizontal stitches across a shape. The more spaced out you make these stitches, the longer the vertical stitches will end up being.

step 2

Since this shape is irregular, I like to start along the center of the top line. Make a vertical stitch running across the first stitch and ending directly above the second horizontal stitch.

step 3

The next stitch will start directly below the first line, go across the second line, and end directly above the 3rd line.

step 4

Continue making these stitches, alternating across the first and second horizontal stitches.

step 5

Once the top two lines are complete, you can begin filling in the stitches across one line at a time. Make the stitches between the ends of the stitches along the line above.

completed burden stitch using pink and purple thread

Continue working your way down each row until the entire shape is filled in.

Stem Stitch

The stem stitch is usually considered an outline stitch, but it actually makes for a very interesting fill stitch. It takes a bit of time to fill a shape in with this stitch, but the result is a satisfying rope-like texture.

stem stitch step 1

It helps to draw a line to work this stitch along. Start at the top of the shape you want to fill in. Make a straight stitch that is equal to 2 stitch lengths.

step 2

Keep the working thread to the left of the line. Come up in the center of the first stitch along the line.

step 3

Pull the thread through, keeping the working thread to the left. Skip ahead one stitch length and place your needle down through the fabric along the line.

step 4

With the working thread off to the left, place your needle back up through the fabric at the base of the first stitch. Repeat the previous step and this step all the way down the line.

step 5

Work rows of these stitches along the shape until it’s filled in. You can alternate the colors you use or stick with one color.

completed stem stitch filling using purple and pink thread

Couching

There are a variety of ways to do couching stitches, and each one looks so interesting. The commonality with each one of these stitches is that there are laid threads and then anchor threads, or stitches that secure the laid threads to the fabric. This means you can use interesting materials such as ribbon or thicker yarns too!

For this example, I will be sharing with you how to do a very basic couching stitch using 2 contrasting colors.

couching step 1

Start at the base of the petal and come up with the thread you intend to use as the laid thread.

step 2

Using the second color, begin making small straight stitches to anchor the laid thread down to the fabric.

step 3

Work your way around the outline of the shape, laying the thread down and anchoring it with straight stitches.

finished couching stitch using dark pink and light pink thread

Continue working from the outside of the shape towards the inside of the shape until the entire area is filled in.

Seed Stitch

The seed stitch is a very simple and easy stitch that can add a lot of interesting texture to a shape. It reminds me of confetti – you can use lots of fun colors.

By densely packing the stitches together, you can cover all of the fabric. The other option is to keep the stitches more spread out, making the finished result more of an open fill stitch (where the fabric slightly shows through).

seed stitch step 1

Start by making short straight stitches scattered in different directions inside the shape you’d like to fill in. Keep the stitches ever so slightly spaced out.

step 2

You can fill in the shape using one color or you can add even more colors.

orange and purple seed stitches

For this example, I used a second color to fill in the space between the stitches.

30+ Embroidery Stitches

Learn over 30 hand embroidery stitches with step by step photos and instructions as well as some extra helpful tips sprinkled in so you can perfect them even more.

Long and Short Stitch

The long and short stitch is great for filling in large shapes, because you can keep the stitches relatively short and neat instead of carrying the thread across a large area of the fabric. It’s also the ideal stitch to use for blending different colors of thread together.

For this example, I am using 2 strands of floss at a time. But if you want the colors to blend together even better, try using 1 strand.

long and short stitch step 1

Start at the base of the shape, making rows of stitches that vary in length, long and short. For this example, I am starting with the darkest color first and filling in half of the shape with rows of long and short stitches.

step 2

Using the lighter color, begin overlapping long and short stitches into the edge of the darker color.

finished long and short stitch petal

Fill in the rest of the petal with long and short stitches using the lighter color.

This stitch is very simple in practice, but it can take a bit to get the hang of. For more tips and tricks, check out my post that will show you everything you need to know to master the long and short stitch.

Chain Stitch

The chain stitch is another versatile stitch that is commonly used for outlines, but it’s also a great option for filling in shapes of all sizes. It can take a bit more time as well as embroidery floss, but the finished result is very aesthetically pleasing.

chain stitch step 1

Come up at the base of the petal with needle and thread. Then place your needle back down the hole you came up through.

step 2

Pull the thread through until a small loop forms. Skip ahead a stitch length with your needle, catching the loop.

step 3

Pull the thread until a small chain stitch forms. Then place your needle down through the center of the stitch.

step 4

Continue making these stitches along the outline of the shape. Then work your way around in a circular fashion until you fill in the middle of the shape.

chain stitch filling with orange thread

Brick Stitch

The brick stitch is essentially made up of rows of alternating back stitches. It is a neat way to complete any shape and the collections of stitches form somewhat of a repeating pattern, similar to the way bricks or tile is laid.

brick stitch step 1

Start by making a line of back stitches across the shape. For the next line of stitches, start the first stitch along the edge of the shape and end the stitch in line with the center of the stitch above it.

step 2

Skip a stitch length ahead, starting the stitch in line with the center of the stitch above it. Make a back stitch. Repeat these stitches all the way across the shape.

step 3

Continue filling in the shape with rows of stitches.

brick stitch with yellow and lime green thread

I filled in about 2/3 of the shape with yellow thread and 1/3 of it with lime green.

Satin Stitch

The satin stitch is by far one of the most common fill stitches to use. It has a smooth finished appearance. I recommend that you use it for small to medium sized areas – making the stitch length too long can result in the stitches sagging.

For this example, I’ll show you a common way to fill in a leaf shape.

satin stitch step 1

Start at the tip of the leaf shape and being making straight stitches that lay neatly beside one another at a diagonal.

step 2

Fill in the entire left side. Then repeat for the other side, this time making the stitches at the opposite diagonal. The ends of the stitches should meet in the center to form a “v”.

step 3

Closed Herringbone

Another great choice to fill in leaves or larger areas, the closed herringbone stitch involves crossing and overlapping stitches. It has a dense finished appearance and the stitches appear slightly raised off of the fabric.

closed herringbone step 1

Make a small straight stitch at the tip of the leaf.

step 2

Come up directly to the side of the straight stitch along the outline and make a stitch that crosses over and ends along the left edge of the shape.

step 3

Now repeat this starting on the left edge and crossing over to the right edge of the shape.

step 4

Continue along the shape, making these alternating stitches.

completed closed herringbone

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found some new stitches to try out. Here are a few other tutorials I think you’ll enjoy:

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3 Comments

  1. I love the close-up pictures of the stitches. I’m a visual learner and I think these will really help me. I’m looking forward to trying several of these!

    1. I’m so glad you found them helpful! I have been trying a bit of a different layout for the photos so thank you for the feedback. 🙂

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