How To Embroider Straight Lines (5 Tips + Stitches)

It sounds relatively easy, but learning how to embroider straight lines can be a challenge! This post will go over some tips and techniques to help you embroider a perfectly straight line!

Use Fabric With An Even Weave

even weave fabric in an embroidery hoop

This makes the biggest difference when it comes to embroidering lines. The weave of a fabric is made up of warp and weft threads (vertical and horizontal threads) that are woven together. Fabrics that are considered even weave are fabrics that have the same amount of warp and weft fibers per square inch.

It can be really hard to stitch in a straight line on fabrics that have an uneven weave.

When you work with even weaves, you can use the grain line of the fabric to make sure that you are making stitches along the same “row” of threads.

You can also choose fabrics that have a slightly lower thread count, meaning they will have a more visible weave that you can reference as you stitch.

Fabric Types

even weave fabrics: linen and Aida fabric

Even weave linen can be found at most craft stores and comes in a variety of thread counts.

Another great fabric that is easy to embroider straight lines is Aida fabric. This fabric is usually used for counted needlework such as cross stitch, but it has a very obvious grid to it making it really easy to create straight lines if you are planning on stitching a relatively simple design or a geometric design.

Place The Fabric In The Hoop With The Grain Lined Up

lining up the grain of the fabric in an embroidery hoop

Pay close attention to the way the grain lines of the fabric are running. It is ideal to have the grain lines running straight up and down and perpendicular instead of having it run at a diagonal.

This will make the background fabric of your embroidery appear neater and it will make it easier to follow the grain of the fabric when you are stitching horizontal or vertical lines.

Mark The Fabric Before You Get Started

Marking out the lines before you get started will make such a difference! For any embroidery, it helps to have some guidelines to go by while you’re stitching. If you have trouble drawing clean, straight lines, a ruler will make it easier.

Try to follow the marked lines as close as possible. Make sure to use a heat erasable pen or water soluble marker so you can remove any marks once you are finished with the embroidery.

Use More Strands of Thread

Sometimes using a few more strands of thread (4-6) instead of 1 or 2 strands will help mask any inconsistencies in your stitches. Using a few more strands will also create a slightly thicker, bolder line.

Keep Your Stitch Length Short And Even

Keeping the length of your stitches relatively short and the same length will make your lines appear way neater and ultimately straighter.

Embroidery Stitches for Straight Lines

Any outline stitch or decorative border stitch is great for straight lines. However, I find the easiest ones to use for crisp outlines are the back stitch, running stitch, and split stitch. The stem stitch and chain stitch are also great for lines but they can be a bit trickier to keep straight and smooth.

Back Stitch

how to embroider a back stitch in a straight line

When working the back stitch, make sure the ends of each stitch lines up with the previous stitch. The end of one stitch and the start of the next stitch should be in the same hole as the fabric and there should be not spaces in between.

The example above uses a fabric with an even and slightly more visible weave. This makes it very easy to keep the stitches the same length and on the same line of the fabric grain.

Running Stitch

how to embroider a straight line using a running stitch

The running stitch is worked similarly to the back stitch except there are spaces in between each one. Pay close attention when you are stitching that each stitch is straight and not stitched at a diagonal or slightly off the fabric grain line.

The space between the stitches should be the same length as each stitch.

Split stitch

split stitch

Unlike the other stitches in this post, the split stitch must be worked with a thread that is divisible, such as 6 strand cotton floss.

Make sure each stitch is even and relatively short. You’ll want to use an even number of strands of thread because this stitch involves splitting the floss.

To keep this stitch looking even, be sure that your thread isn’t twisted when you are stitching and the needle should go up through the middle of the strands of thread.

Chain Stitch

straight line of chain stitches

Each chain of the chain stitch should be the same length. The base of a chain stitch is comprised of 2 threads. These 2 threads should share the same hole.

Stem stitch

straight line of stem stitches

The stem stitch is by far the most challenging when you learn how to embroider straight lines.

The biggest thing I have learned with this stitch is to make sure that the end of each stitch should come up where the last stitch ended. When done right, this stitch will twist slightly and look similar to a rope.

how to embroider straight lines

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