Flowers are by far, one of the most popular things to embroider. And rightfully so! There are so many different embroidery stitches for flowers that lend themselves well to their shapes and silhouettes. In this post, I’m sharing how to embroider flowers using 17 different embroidery stitches. Some can be used for large flowers, some for small, and some for more simple or detailed versions of them. I hope you get inspired and try some of them in your next project!
P.S. If you’re brand new at embroidery and don’t know where to start, check out this post first to learn how to make the 5 easiest flowers.
Disclaimer: This post has some affiliate links in it. I receive a small commission from purchases at no additional cost to the buyer. I only recommend products I would use and love and that are of good quality. All opinions are my own!
Flower Embroidery Stitches
- Linen or cotton fabric
- An embroidery hoop
- Embroidery needles – crewel, tapestry, and milliners are recommended
- DMC embroidery floss
- A fabric pen or marker to transfer your designs
Note: It is not required to have all 3 kinds of needles, but they will make certain stitches a lot easier to make. Tapestry needles are great for stitches where you are weaving in and out of other threads such as the woven wheel. And milliners needles are good for any stitch that involves wrapping the needle (French knots, colonial knots, bullion knots, and cast-on stitches).
Free Printable Flower Embroidery Designs
Grab the free pattern with printable flower designs so you can follow along with the tutorial!
Stitches For Flower Petals and Leaves
The satin stitch is probably the simplest and most frequently used embroidery stitch for flowers. This stitch is smooth and is great for filling in smaller shapes, such as flower petals.
- Start from the outer edge of the petal and make a single stitch that ends in the center of the flower.
- Make evenly spaced out stitches along the petal. For petals that are wider at the edge, the stitches can run at a slight diagonal, merging together at the base of the petal.
4. Fill in the rest of the petal. To smooth out the stitches, carefully place your needle under them and slightly pull up on them to fluff them up.
If you want the edges of the stitches to be very neat, it helps to outline each shape first. This will serve as a guide for your stitches so you can make a more defined leaf shape. Here’s how to do the back split stitch:
- Using 2 strands of floss, make one straight stitch along the outline.
- Skip one stitch length and bring needle and thread up through the fabric.
3. Go back down through the stitch you just made, splitting it in half. Repeat steps 2 and 3 the desired length.
4. Satin stitch over top of the split stitches. For this example, I made diagonal stitches across the leaf, but you can also make the stitches run horizontal or lengthwise.
The chain stitch is typically used as an outline stitch, but it adds interesting texture when used as a fill stitch, particularly for petals!
- Come up through the fabric and begin placing your needle back down through your starting point.
- Begin pulling the thread until a small loop forms. Skip a stitch length ahead and bring your needle up through the fabric and through the loop.
3. Gently pull until the loop is secured onto the fabric.
4. Then place your needle back down through the fabric where your working thread is and repeat steps 2 – 4 the desired length.
5. Work your way around the outline of the petal.
6. Then begin working inward in a circular fashion to fill the entire petal in.
7. Fill in each of the leaves with a single chain stitch (also called a detached chain stitch).
8. Finally, fill in the stems with a split stitch.
Long and Short Stitch
The long and short stitch, commonly used in thread painting, is a great stitch for blending colors. Filling in petals of the flower with this stitch allows you to add a more dimensional and realistic touch to any flower! You can start with a darker color at the base of the petal and gradually blend the colors out to a lighter shade.
- Start by making long and short stitches, straight stitches that vary in length, at the base of the petal. These stitches can merge together towards the base of the petal and fan out as the petal gets wider.
- Using a lighter color, make another row of long and short stitches, overlapping your stitches into the darker color to blend the two colors together.
Buttonhole stitch can be used to fill in flowers. This stitch can create a cool pattern and edge for petals.
- Starting on the left side of the petal, make a single straight stitch that runs the length of the petal.
- Bring your needle up directly to the top left of the stitch you made.
3. Next to the straight stitch you made, grab the fabric with your needle and place the working thread behind the tip of the needle. Pull the thread through and you’ve made your first buttonhole stitch!
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3, continuing to work from left to right until the petal is completely filled in.
You can work these stitches as close together or as far apart as you would like, depending on how you want the stitches to look.
The lazy daisy, also known as a detached chain stitch, is made up of one single chain stitch. It looks great for simple flowers. Each stitch represents one petal.
- Simply make 5 stitches that meet in the middle and you’ve got yourself a little daisy!
- You can also add a single straight stitch to each petal if you want the flower to be more filled in.
Stitches For 3-Dimensional Flowers
- Draw a small circle on the fabric.
- Make 5 evenly spaced out straight stitches from the center of the circle to the outer edge.
3. Come up slightly from the center with your needle and thread.
4. Begin weaving the needle under and over the spokes, working your way around the circle. (It helps to use a tapestry needle for this part so you don’t snag the thread.)
5. Continue weaving under and over the straight stitches until the shape is filled in.
To make a fluffier rose, double up your thread.
Turkey work is a fun stitch to use to make fluffy flowers such as dandelions. It turns out the best when used with stranded cotton embroidery floss so the threads can separate and fluff out when you trim them. You can trim this stitch as long or as short as you want, and it’s another way to add more dimension to any embroidery.
You could also use this stitch in the center of a flower that has long stamens like I did in this stumpwork embroidery tutorial.
- Make a stitch down through the fabric, leaving a tail of thread.
- Place your needle up directly beside the tail of the thread.
- Make a stitch over the thread to the right of the tail.
- Come up directly through the initial stitch you made. This will secure the stitch.
- Then make a stitch slightly to the right and repeat steps 2-4.
- Once you’ve filled in the area, cut the loops of thread and trim to the desired length.
Cast On Stitch
The cast-on stitch is another 3-dimensional stitch that can look like the petals of a rose when the stitches are grouped together. Or for flower buds, use a single stitch. Grab your milliners needle if you have one and let’s make some!
- Come up through the fabric with your needle and thread. Then with your needle, grab the fabric below your working thread and come up where your working thread is.
- Loop the thread around the tip of the needle.
- Continue making these loops until the thread is about the same length as the amount of fabric your needle is grabbing.
4. Gently pull your needle and thread through. The bottom of the stitch will be loose. Place your finger at the base of the stitch and pull the rest of the slack thread tight.
5. Place your needle and thread down through the base of the stitch.
6. Add some straight stitches for little leaves and a stem.
Bullion knots are longer, twisted knots that are great for small flowers like clovers and flower buds. You can also use them similar to the way a cast on stitch is used to create a rose! This is another stitch that is much easier to make using a milliner’s needle.
- Come up through the fabric with needle and thread. Then grab the fabric with your needle. The tip of the needle should go through the hole your thread is coming up through.
- Wrap the thread around the tip of the needle. The wraps should be the same length as the amount of fabric you grabbed with the needle.
- Pinch the thread and pull your needle through.
4. Pull the working thread downward and push the base of the knot with your finger to pull the thread tight.
5. End the stitch by going back down at the base of the knot with needle and thread.
- To make a rose, make two bullion knots side by side one another.
- Then add two more knots on either side of the center knots
- Work your way around the knots, making more knots in a circle.
For a flower that is 3-dimensional and pops off the fabric, the woven picot stitch is the way to go. The base of this stitch is attached to the fabric and the rest of the stitch is detached.
Check out this tutorial to make a 3-dimensional sunflower.
Another interesting way to embroider a flower is using a couching stitch. There are many different variations of this stitch. You can use decorative ribbon or embroidery thread. This would look cool for a more abstract-looking rose.
The ribbon stitch is a unique embroidery stitch that looks best with silk ribbon. These are great for small flower petals or more elongated petals such as a chrysanthemum. Learn how to make this simple flower in my introduction to silk ribbon embroidery.
Another ribbon embroidery technique that looks just like a rose is the ribbon rose. You can learn how to do this stitch in this beginner ribbon tutorial.
Embroidery Stitches For Small Flowers
The colonial knot is a neat and tidy knot that’s perfect to use for filling in space between larger flowers or to stitch flower buds with.
- Using a milliners needle, come up with your needle and thread. Make a loop with your thread and place your needle through the loop. The working thread should now be closest to you and underneath the needle.
- Then take the working thread and place it over top of the needle so a figure 8 shape forms. The working thread should again be coming out underneath the needle.
3. Pull the thread snug on the needle and place the needle back down through the fabric directly beside where you initially came up.
4. Gently pull the needle and thread through and a small knot will form.
French knots are ideal to use for small flowers, berries, the center of flowers, or to fill in blank spaces between flowers. You can make them larger and more fluffy with more strands of thread or smaller with less thread.
This knot is worked very similarly to the colonial knot, but it involves twisting the thread around the needle instead of making a figure eight with the thread.
- Using a milliners needle, start at the top of the flower using 2 strands of thread. Wrap the needle 1-2 times to make a knot.
- Work your way down each branch of the flower, making French knots. Gradually use more thread and/or more wraps of thread to increase the size of the buds towards the base of the flower.
3. Using 2 strands of thread, split stitch the stem of the flower.
4. Add diagonal straight stitches to connect each French knot.
The split stitch can also be used for the stems of flowers. This stitch is worked very similarly to the back split stitch earlier on in this post. The only difference is that you will work this stitch in a forward motion, going up through the stitch to split it instead of down through it.
- Start by making a small straight stitch along a stem line.
- Come up through the stitch you made with your needle and thread, splitting it through the middle.
3. Make another small straight stitch and repeat steps 2 and 3 the desired length.
Putting Everything Together
These are just a few ideas for how you can use these stitches to embroider different types of flowers. Quite frankly, the options are endless! Experiment with different combinations of hand embroidery stitches, strands of thread, and colors to create bold, beautiful flowers with interesting textures.
Want to learn even more?
Here are two great online embroidery classes that are available on Skillshare. Each class goes over several different ways to embroider flowers. Not a member? Get one month free when you sign up through the links below.
Take a look at some of these other embroidery patterns for more floral designs.
More Fun Flower Tutorials
Amanda is a hand embroidery artist and teacher. With over 15 years of experience in the craft industry and embroidery, she owns and runs Crewel Ghoul, sharing tutorials and patterns to help inspire fellow crafters to get inspired and creative. In addition to running this website, she teaches on Skillshare and Youtube.