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embroidery basics: running and back stitches


Are you ready to get stitching? Today in this series, I'll be showing you two of the most basic stitches. They are easy to learn, but they are really versatile, and I use them all of the time. They are truly my favorites!

Get some fabric in a hoop, transfer a pattern (you can even just draw a line to start with), and thread your needle. Here we go!
Running stitch
A running stitch is what you often think of when you think of hand sewing. Come up from the back, then back down again. The stitches that I'm showing are about 1/4" long.
Running stitch
Come up again from the back, leaving a space about the length same as the first stitch. Go back down again.
Running stitch
Running stitch
Repeat this along the pattern line. I should note that my lines are drawn with a water-soluble pen, so the spaces where you see blue lines will rinse away. When stitching on a pattern that won't wash away, a running stitch isn't the best choice.
Back stitch
A back stitch is just as simple, but you need to think a little differently. Come up from the back, but instead of starting at the end of the line, start about one stitch length in.
Back stitch
Go back down, but in the opposite direction that you are stitching. This is where the name "back stitch" comes in.
Back stitch
Come up again to the front, a stitch-length from the first stitch.
Back stitch
Go back down, back-stitching to the end of the first stitch.
Back stitch
Repeat this along the pattern line. It's as simple as that!

TIP: Shorter stitches handle tight curves better.

These may not seem very interesting, but they are perfect for outlining. Still, you can fancy them up, or change up your stitch-length or spacing for some fun effects! (see Jenny Hart's book, Embroidered Effects, for even more ideas!)
Running stitch woven
You can weave a contrasting color through a running stitch and it looks like this.
Back stitch wrapped
Or wrap a contrasting color around back stitches for a stripey effect.

But even without these extra steps, you can change up the look of your stitches by making some stitches long and some short, or by leaving more or less room between them.
a heart in tree rings
a heart in tree rings
See what a difference that makes? This is why I love these stitches. If you would like to try stitching some tree rings too, you can download this pattern for practice.

Download the pattern.

Download this Embroidery Basics post + the pattern.

Next week we're looking at split and stem stitches!

27 comments:

  1. Every time I read one of your embroidery basics posts, I grab a hoop and get going. I'll have to share my results soon =) I love the look of wrapping one colour stitch around another. Where do you get water soluble pens? I fear living in the UK may be my shortfall x

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  2. thanks for the post! i just bought some hoops yesterday to give this a shot! :)

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  3. My water-soluble pen came from DMC. There aren't too many small craft shops around me, but at the large stores, I usually find them in the quilting section, or near notions (right there with snaps, velcro, and other tools).

    I'll also ask my UK friend to see if she has any suggestions!

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  4. Wonderful post!!! I love all of your wonderful tips!! They are SUPER helpful for learning!!! I am so excited to start using these stitches on some creations!!! :)

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  5. Thanks so much for the tips! Love the weaving technique.

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  6. NikkiJoy! Here's the word! My friend works at a craft shop (http://www.creativitycraft.com/) and she says they sell them there, but thinks you should be able to find them lots of places. Yay!

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  7. awwwwwww your tutorials are always the best!
    love them! *_*
    I love you
    xoxo

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  8. oh cool! can't wait to see more :)

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  9. I found you through feeling stitchy. I love all things embroidery! I'll be sure to follow from now on, such great ideas and tutorials! thanks for being so crafty and wanting to share!

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  10. These embroidery tutorials are PHENOMENAL! I am so thrilled to have stumbled on your site! (I subscribed to your RSS feed right away.) Cheers.

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  11. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [15 Apr 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

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  12. Mollie you are so AWESOME! Thank you for posting all these. I'm am religiously folloing this adventure!

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  13. Thanks for sharing! I'm definitely learning and there's nothing like building a strong foundation :) Love the variation ideas you shared as well!

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  14. Thanks for doing this series of posts. Embroidery can seem a bit overwhelming at first. There seem to be so many "rules" of how to stitch (including not starting with knots, but you make it really accessible!

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  15. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 9 post on Apr. 15, 2011. Thanks again.

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  16. This is a great series of posts, and the wild olive just makes me smile every time he has something cleaver to say. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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  17. Anonymous12:03 PM

    I was visiting a blog and she had mentioned your blog - which made my day! I haven't stitched for over 25 years and pretty much forgot how but I want to start making things. I love your explaination and can't wait to get my hoop out. What kind of needle are you using - does it matter? I will experiment. Thank you so much!!!

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  18. Estefi6:58 AM

    Thanks for the post! I love to learn new techniques. This is awesome :)

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  19. Thanks for all of the kind words! I've really been enjoying creating this series, and am so glad you're enjoying it too!


    Anonymous...you asked about needles. You can find my pointers (pun intended!) here: http://wildolive.blogspot.com/2011/03/embroidery-basics-materials.html

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  20. I just found you thanks to the comments on Mayi's blog (heartmade). You are brilliant! I can't wait to try these out on some lovely new fabrics and felt pieces I have! :)

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  21. Basic or not, this was very fun to do the other night while watching a movie. Posted my "finished" product on my blog :)

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  22. You are a GEM! I just found you...who knows how. And though most of this is review for me, it's so nice to see which things I'm doing correctly and which things I can do in a better way! I've posted a few tutorials here and there and they take SO MUCH TIME! Thank you so much for doing this! They are super fabulous. I can't wait to see them all!

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  23. Great tips! Perfect finishing! Thanks for guidelines. It will help initials.
    Embroidery Digitizers

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  24. Anonymous10:26 PM

    Thank you

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  25. Such kind of embroidery produced with the help of technology is called as digitizer embroidery

    digitizer-embroidery

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  26. thank you for your post.i like it very much.it is a very beautiful Embroidery picture.

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