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How to Embroider Leaves – 9 Ways

Flowers and leaves are some some of the most popular things to embroider, and for good reason. Embroidery is a beautiful medium to use for making botanical and floral motifs because of the various embroidery stitches that emulate them well. There are so many possibilities and variations of stitches you can use for leaves! Here are some ideas of how to embroider leaves that you can use as inspiration.

How To Embroider Leaves

Satin Stitch

embroidering a leaf using satin stitches

A neat and easy way to embroider leaves is simply with a satin stitch, which is essentially a series of straight stitches that are made next to one other to cover an area. To make sure each side of the leaf ends up even, draw a line down the middle of the shape before you get started.

  1. Start at the very tip of the leaf and make a small straight stitch in the center.
  2. Then, make diagonal satin stitches down each side of the leaf. This will form a seam that looks like a vein in the middle.

Fishbone Leaf Stitch

how to embroider leaves using the fishbone stitch

The fishbone stitch is great to use to embroider a leaf because it creates a subtle seam in the center that resembles veins in a leaf. It also appears to be a bit more raised than other stitches.

  1. Start with a straight stitch at the tip of the leaf
  2. Come up to the right side of the stitch and then back down slightly to the left of the base of the first stitch you made.
  3. Repeat this on the left side of the leaf, crossing over slightly to the right base of the previous stitch.
  4. Continue making these alternating stitches down the entire shape.

Fly Stitch Leaf

fly stitch leaf

A single fly stitch is made up of a horizontal stitch that is pulled down and secured in the shape of a “v” with a straight stitch in the middle. The fly stitch leaf is formed when these stitches are stacked on top of one another.

  1. Start at the tip of the leaf and make a straight stitch in the center.
  2. Come up through the fabric to one side of the straight stitch and then go back down on the opposite side of the stitch leaving a loop.
  3. Bring your needle back up at the base of the straight stitch and pull the loop tight.
  4. Bring your needle to the back of the fabric, making a stitch over the loop.
  5. Work your way down the entire leaf making fly stitches.

Long and Short Stitch

long and short stitch

The long and short stitch is used to blend colors together and is stitch used for thread painting. For leaves, you can use as little as 2 different shades of a color or more if you want a more gradual blend of colors.

Try to vary your stitches quite a bit; you don’t want to simply alternate “long, short, long, short”. Changing up the length of the stitches used will help to blend the colors together better.

Also, don’t be shy about generously overlapping stitches.

Embroidery Patterns That Use The Long And Short Stitch

Closed Herringbone Stitch

closed herringbone stitch

This stitch can be a bit more challenging to learn, but it adds a lot of dimension to your embroidery when used!

  1. Start with a stitch at the base of the leaf that’s about 1/3 of the entire length.
  2. Come back up through the tip of the leaf and bring your needle underneath the straight stitch you made.
  3. Slightly cross over the stitch you just made and go back down to the right of the tip of the leaf.
  4. Come back up directly opposite to the left of the tip of the leaf.
  5. Bring your needle under the straight stitch and repeat.

How to Embroider a Leaf Vein

As mentioned previously, some stitches naturally create a seam that resembles the veins of a leaf, but there are a few different ways you can make the veins more obvious.

how to embroider a leaf vein

You can make satin stitches using contrasting colors.

You can also make satin stitches and then make straight stitches on top of the stitches with a lighter or darker color

Embroidering Tiny Leaves and Vines

embroidering tiny leaves

Tiny leaves can be achieved with satin stitches or detached chain stitches. Since we’ve already covered how to do a satin stitch leaf, I won’t be showing another example, but I’ll give an example of the detached chain stitch to make small leaves.

Detached Chain Stitch

  1. Come up through the fabric and then grab the fabric with your needle at the base and top of the tiny leaf. Pull the thread through, catching the loop.
  2. Make a stitch over top of the loop to secure it.

Feather Stitch

Another way you can make embroidery resemble small leaves or vines is with the feather stitch. Draw two to three lines as a guide to stagger the stitches.

If you like this tutorial, check out some of my other tutorials for embroidering trees and flowers. Or grab one of several free plant patterns.