In this post you’ll learn everything you need to know about stumpwork embroidery. Here you’ll learn stitches and techniques and you can even try out some projects.
What Is Stumpwork Embroidery?
Stumpwork embroidery is a type of embroidery that uses raised embroidery stitches and techniques that appear 3-dimensional. For some techniques, the background fabric stays intact. Other techniques such as wire work allow individual elements to be cut out and secured to the surface of the fabric.
You can use virtually any type of fabric that is suitable for embroidery for stumpwork. There are, however, techniques that require different kinds of fabrics.
- Wool felt can be used for padding stitches.
- Natural fabrics, such as linen or cotton are great to use for the background fabric.
- Tulle or organza can be used for wirework.
28 or 30 gauge crafting wire is ideal to use for wire slips.
This wire is thin enough that it is discreet and easily bendable, but durable enough that it will hold whatever shape it is molded into.
It’s always good to have some wire cutters on hand so you don’t dull your crafting scissors!
Various sizes of embroidery needles are great to have on hand, just like you would use for a normal surface embroidery project.
Chenille and crewel needles are helpful to have if you are using thicker threads like crewel wool or yarn.
Tapestry needles are another great kind to have available for stitches where you are weaving in and around other embroidery stitches. This will help prevent your needle from snagging the surrounding stitches.
Threads and Fibers
You can use a variety of different threads, flosses, and fibers for stumpwork.
Yarns and crewel wools are great to use when you want your embroidery stitches to have a fluffier texture. They’re also great to use for the laid thread with couching stitches.
Pearl cotton floss is great to use for needle lace stitches. It is non-divisible, which can make it a bit easier to use when weaving in and out of stitches.
For more intricate details and general use, stranded cotton floss is a popular choice.
There are also synthetic embroidery flosses that are great to use when you want to add a flashier, metallic accent.
Everything else that you need is what you would normally use for hand embroidery, such as marking pens, scissors, and embroidery hoops.
Linked below are some of my favorite products.
Raised Embroidery Stitches
There are many different raised embroidery stitches that fall into the stumpwork category. I have included some of the most common ones. If you’d like to see even more, check out the RSN stitch bank.
Surface Embroidery Stitches
Some of these stitches may be ones you already know, as they are quite common ones to use with modern surface embroidery patterns. They raise off of the fabric more, so they are commonly seen in stumpwork embroidery as well.
Bullion knots are a very versatile stitch that can be used for floral elements or to fill in an area. The stitch can be made as long or as short as you’d like.
Buttonhole scallops are great to use for borders or as a decorative element. Learn how to make them here.
Couching uses a laid thread and another piece of thread to anchor the thread down to the fabric. This stitch can be used as an outline or as a fill stitch and it looks very interesting when used with contrasting colors and thicker yarns. Here are several different variations of the couching stitch to check out.
The cast on stitch looks similar to buttonhole scallops but it is worked somewhat differently. This stitch is great to add lots of texture to an area and it lends itself really well to create floral shapes that look like roses.
If you’re familiar with surface embroidery, you’re most likely well acquainted with French knots. These are great to use to fill in an area and add lots of dimension.
Raised Stem Stitch
The raised stem stitch is a variation of the stem stitch. It looks woven, kind of like a basket when the stitches are worked in rows side by side one another.
Turkey work is great to fill in an area with fluffy, ruglike stitches. Check out how to do this stitch here.
Woven picots resemble flower petals. The base is anchored to the fabric but the rest of the stitch is free standing, making it an amazing 3-dimensional stitch.
The ceylon stitch is a needlelace stitch that looks exactly like knitting. This post will show you the basics and also teach you how to create the sweater pictured above.
Detached Buttonhole Stitch
The detached buttonhole stitch looks similar to netting. The stitches can be spaced out or stitched closer together to create a more densly packed filling.
Padded Satin Stitch
The padded satin stitch is a great stitch to use to make the stitches slightly stand out from the fabric. A variety of stitches can be layered underneath the satin stitches to create this effect.
Felt can be used underneath embroidery stitches to add extra padding. The felt can be completely covered or you can leave parts of it unstitched.
The above example uses a circle of wool felt and then basket weave stitches are worked over top of it. Bullion knots surround the circle.
Wirework is one of the most interesting and notable techniques in stumpwork embroidery. The wire is bent into a particular shape and secured to the fabric with embroidery stitches such as the couching or buttonhole stitch. Once the shape is completely secured to the fabric and filled in as desired, the shape can be cut out of the fabric and used as a 3-dimensional element in the embroidery.
If you’d like to learn more about creating wire slips, check out these 2 tutorials:
If you’re interested in learning how to create a stumpwork embroidery from start to finish, these embroidery patterns will walk you through every step of the way!
Stumpwork Embroidery Books
If you’d like to learn even more stumpwork techniques and gather some inspiration, these books are amazing resources.