purple running stitch on white fabric with title.

Running Stitch

Running stitch is the most basic sewing stitch. If you’ve ever learned to sew by hand, this is most likely what you did. It is used in garment making, crafts and quilting. Because it’s a utility stitch, it is often overlooked as an embroidery stitch. Don’t make that mistake! It is kind of like a good support bra — not much on its own, but makes everything else look better.

When to use running stitch

  • Outlining shapes
  • Fillers with light colour density
  • Shadows
  • Secret Morse code messages
  • Fake perforations
  • With birds and insects to show movement
  • With eyes to indicate staring
  • Anywhere else you want a dotted line …
stitching a monogram with running stitch.
running stitch on placemat.
flower motif embroidered with running stitch


Types of running stitches

Basic running stitch

This is one of the most common stitches . It can be done multiple stitches at a time by rocking the needle back and forth or one stitch at a time with a stabbing motion,

If you are having trouble getting the stitches to go exactly where you want, pick up fewer stitches or try doing one at a time.

Long and short

Varying the length of the stitches gives a whole new look.

Secret message

If you know morse code, you can hide secret messages into your running stitches.

Wrapped running stitch

aka whipped running stitch

Add some interest and texture to running stitch by adding a wrapped (or whipped) thread. This is a thread that is woven into the running stitches. It doesn’t pierce the fabric, but floats between the fabric and running stitches. All the stitches are taken in the same direction.

There are a lot of variations of wrapped running stitch.

Laced running stitch

Laced running stitch is also made by weaving in another thread. The difference between this and wrapped running stitch is that the stitches alternate in direction – up, down, up, etc.

There are variations for laced running stitch.

Interlaced running stitch

Interlaced running stitch is done with multiple lines of running stitch laced together.

There are variations for interlaced running stitch.


Running stitch in embroidery projects

Be sure to #epidastudio when you share your projects on social media!


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Elizabeth DeCroos

Elizabeth DeCroos

designer, teacher, speaker

Elizabeth enjoys doing all types of sewing and needlework and teaching others new techniques. For more information or to have her speak to your group click HERE.

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