Straight Stitch

yellow straight stitches on white fabric with title.

Straight stitch is a simple, basic stitch. It looks simple and it is simple to do. Because of this, it is sometimes overlooked, but in freestyle embroidery it can be fun and effective. It is like a t-shirt in your wardrobe – a bit casual but cute and with many different options.

A warning with straight stitch is that if the stitches are too long, they could get caught on things, especially if the stitching is on an item that is handled like clothing or pillows. Also, there is a lot of travelling on the back of the embroidery. If you have a dark thread and a light fabric, make sure it won’t shadow through.

When to use straight stitch:

  • Grass
  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Random texture
  • Background design
  • Fillers for shapes
  • Birds in the distance
  • Fur or hair

Types of straight stitch:

Basic straight stitch

aka: single satin stitch

Basic straight stitch is done just the way it seems. Bring the thread up from the back of the fabric.


Take it through to the back side. That’s it! One stitch is done.  It is possibly the easiest embroidery stitch.


Bring the needle up for the next stitch, then take it down.

Repeat as needed.

Satin stitch

aka: damask stitch

Satin stitch is made with groups of parallel stitches. It is often used to fill in shapes.

For best results, begin in the middle of the shape. Work out to one side, then go back to the middle and work out to the other side.

Padded satin stitch

Sometimes satin stitch is done overtop of foundation stitches to give more depth and texture.

Long and short stitch

aka: plumage stitch, shading stitch

Long and short stitch is used to fill in shapes that are too large for satin stitch. It is also a beautiful way to add shading and subtle colour depth with gradient colours.

If you see beautiful realistic looking thread painting designs, long and short stitch is usually involved.


Groups of straight stitches in a circle are called eyelets.

Seed stitch

aka: seeding stitch, speckling stitch, isolated back stitch

Short, random straight stitches can be used for filling shapes.

Straight stitch in embroidery projects

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Elizabeth DeCroos - Epida Studio.

Elizabeth DeCroos

Elizabeth DeCroos is the designer and teacher at Epida Studio. She loves to work in quilting, pojagi and embroidery and teach these techniques to others.
Learn more and get her to speak to your group.

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