What are the Different Types of Embroidery?

Generally, embroidery is a great artwork that involves the use of an innovative mind to create unique designs out of common designs. Embroidery can be done by hand or using an embroidery machine. There are multiple embroidery techniques and stitches used to work on embroidery pieces.

This article is going to provide you with details about the various types of embroidery techniques, stitches, threads, and needles.


What Does It Take for Good Embroidery?

Learning or understanding embroidery should not be difficult and also, it should not feel like a massive investment of your time and money. It should feel like a hobby that you desire to jump into.

The moment you get the needle threaded, you are certain to be equipped with more knowledge of embroidery. For good embroidery, you only need to have the best tools, special tips, and techniques that will improve your stitching.


Types of Embroidery

Generally, there are multiple types of embroidery techniques available out there in the market. The following are some of the types of embroidery techniques.

– Cross Stitch

Cross stitch embroidery is a form of counted thread embroidery which involves the use of the Aida fabric, which is a firm even-weave fabric consisting of holes in it.

This type of embroidery is done on a grid format and utilizes a series of X-shaped stitches that can be accompanied by back stitches. The cross stitch is a uniformly looking embroidery due to the even stitches and the even-weave fabric.

– Redwork Embroidery

This is a simple embroidery technique that utilizes the use of red embroidery thread to make the design outlines using the stem stitch and worked on white cotton fabric.

The redwork embroidery involves making simple drawings portraying animals, nature, houses, women, and more. Usually, these drawings are done using the stem stitch accompanied by french knots split and back stitches. It is used to decorate cushion covers, tea towels, and more.

– Sashiko Embroidery

Sashiko embroidery is a Japanese embroidery technique that involves the use of small running stitches to make simple pretty patterns with timeless style.

This technique is said to originate from the common man trying to preserve the old clothes using the simple running stitch. Today it is a perfect technique to decorate clothes. It is mainly used to make an outline design boasting geometrical patterns.

– Arrasene Embroidery

Arrasene embroidery is a type of chenille embroidery and an old technique popular during the 19th century, which was used to make curtains and mantelpiece borders using fine arrasene material which is silk or wool.

This type of embroidery technique has also been used with tent stitches on canvas, crewel and stem stitches on velvet, and couching on braid work.

– Candlewick Embroidery

This is a type of whitework embroidery technique that utilizes unbleached materials. Generally, the candlewick embroidery designs are made using a white heavy cotton thread that is unbleached and done on unbleached muslin.

This technique is also referred to as the traditional embroidery technique as it utilizes a traditional method called the colonial knots on the design line.

– Surface Embroidery

Surface embroidery is generally a broad type of embroidery that encompasses many embroidery techniques, including crewelwork, crazy quilting, goldwork, cross-stitch, and art needlework.

Generally, surface embroidery is a type of embroidery technique that involves the use of threads laid on top of the canvas or fabric, and not through the fabric, and decorative stitches to make patterns. This technique is used to make working curves, adding texture, filling motif shapes, creating outlines, and strengthening edges.

– Crewel Embroidery

Crewel embroidery is also called Jacobean embroidery and involves the use of crewel wool thread and linen fabric to make designs. Generally, this technique utilizes the same stitches as those of general hand embroidery to work on the designs.

However, the crewel embroidery stitches are defined by the texture and appearance of the stitches. This is due to the thicker wool thread that creates a bit more dimension, unlike the usual cotton floss used with embroidery.

– Blackwork Embroidery

This is an old embroidery technique, and as the name suggests, the technique involves the use of black embroidery thread to work designs on white fabric. – Blackwork embroidery is also another form of counted thread embroidery.

Generally, this type of technique is characterized by repeating patterns, which are mainly geometric. The double running stitch is the main stitch employed in this technique. Usually, the back and front of this work look the same.


15 Different Types of Embroidery Stitches

Just like the multiple types of embroidery techniques, there are multiple types of embroidery stitches used for hand and machine embroidery. The following are some of the basic types of embroidery stitches.

1. Running stitch

This is one of the most basic and simple embroidery stitches that you will learn during your embroidery journey. This type of embroidery stitch is also considered to be the origin of the other stitches, as well as the sashiko embroidery.

Generally, this type of stitch looks like a running thread with separate segments. The running stitch is ideal for adding details and making dashed outlines to your projects and also suitable in wrapping and weaving.

2. Straight stitch

This is another simple type of embroidery stitch that involves moving the needle up and then moving it back down through the fabric. It involves the repetition of single lines to create a single pattern.

The stitches can vary in both length and width. The straight stitch is applied in most projects to make scattered fills, stars, textures, shading, outlining among others.

3. Back stitch

This type of embroidery stitch is used for making boundaries or when connecting two or more different fabrics. This simple stitch is named after its general appearance: the stitch is well seen on the backside than the front working side. The basic and simple stitch is ideal for working on any outline and pairs well with other types of stitches.

4. Satin/Column stitch

This type of embroidery stitch is mainly used with text works and can also be used outside the text. This stitch brings a shiny look great for most designs. The basis of this stitch is mainly one that tracks forth and back over a small part, and alternates between angled and straight stitch while making it. This stitch requires long and unbroken threads to provide a shiny look.

5. Split stitch

The split stitch is another type of embroidery stitch for making outlines. Generally, both the split stitch and backstitch have a similar working process but upside down, meaning that the back of the split stitch will be similar to the front of the backstitch.

This stitch is made by splitting or piercing the previous stitch to make strong and textured embroidery lines.

6. Feather stitch

This is a type of embroidery with the stitches linked to form open lines that seem to be moving. The feather stitch is ideal for making borders and frames, and it works best when decorated or layered with other stitches. This stitch is also perfect for stitching seaweed, scales, feathers, and foliage, which is attributed to its look.

7. Stem stitch

This is also a basic stitch that is perfect for making smooth outlines and works perfectly for curves and straight lines. Despite being called a stem stitch, this stitch is used to embroider stems and stitch any line. The width of the stem stitch can also be adjusted but consistent length creates beautiful work. It can also be used to fill stitching.

8. French knot

Unlike the previous basic stitches, the french knot is not that simple to learn, but it’s worth the effort. The french knot is a very common embroidery stitch that you will find in most patterns as it is a perfect stitch to make textured fill and other design elements in embroidery.

The french knot involves forming a knot on the fabric by wrapping the needle with the thread about three times. The trick of this stitch is by holding the thread you are working with a bit tighter and then practicing.

9. Chain stitch

The chain stitch is an embroidery stitch that consists of a row of linked stitches that looks stunning. The stitch stain is most perfect for creating embroidery border lines. The chain stitch has various ways to work it out, including forward and reverse options.

10. Lazy daisy stitch

The lazy daisy is a type of stitch created by making a large hoop with the tread and then holding the hoop in place using small stitches. The lazy daisy is perfect for making flowers, leaves, and more.

11. Moss stitch

Moss stitch is also known as seed stitch and is mainly used for making the edges of the fabric using several unlinked stitches. This stitch looks fantastic and can be used either horizontally or vertically.

12. Blanket stitch

Just like the name suggests, this stitch was developed purposely for working on thick fabrics like the blanket. The blanket stitch is used for reinforcing the edges of a thick material like blankets.

13. Couching

This is a type of complex embroidery stitch that mainly consists of two yards and colors. Usually, the color of the main yard becomes the primary color, while the second color is for the holding yard. The main yard is usually laid on top of the fabric while the second yard is used to hold it into place.

14. Herringbone stitch

The herringbone stitch is also called the plaited stitch or the catch stitch. This stitch is mainly used to make hem garments. To make this pattern, it is good to draw parallel lines to help you have even spaces between the stitches.

15. Fly stitch

This type of stitch is named from its general appearance, the fly stitch resembles a flying bird when viewed from a far distance. This stitch can be used to add style to your work by creating numerous stitches in a row so that they appear like a flock of birds flying in your piece.

Making this stitch resembles making a detached chain stitch but then making a v shape or a soft curve instead of making a flower, like in detached chain stitch.


Different Types of Thread

Generally, there are multiple threads used for various embroidery projects. The following are some of the different types of embroidery thread.

1. Stranded embroidery cotton

This is the most popular thread used in most embroidery works including cross-stitch. It is also called embroidery floss. The stranded embroidery cotton thread is characterized by six strands of thread running all through the skein.

This thread can be used as a whole or separated into a certain number of strands to create a different effect. It is obtained in various fibers including cotton, silk, and rayon.

2. Perle/Pearl cotton

The pearl cotton thread is a heavier thread than the stranded cotton thread and is obtained in various weights. The pearl cotton thread is made as a single strand consisting of two fibers twisted together.

This thread is designed to be used as it is, you should not separate like the embroidery floss. It has a great textured effect that makes it ideal for doing redwork, cross-stitch, and other embroidery works.

3. Rayon floss

This is the shiniest floss in embroidery and consists of bright colors and outstanding silk-like sheen. The rayon floss is obtained in the same way as the stranded cotton thread.

However, it can become challenging to work with it as it easily knots and tangles. But to avoid this problem, it is advisable to use short lengths and you can also make the thread slightly wet before working.

4. Crewel yarn/ wool

This embroidery thread is made of fine natural wool and is used in needlepoint, wool embroidery, cross-stitch, and tapestry work. The crewel yarn is twice thicker than the embroidery floss and is used when you need to create texture in your work.

5. Metallic embroidery thread

This is a beautiful thread used to provide highlights in various embroidery techniques. It can also be used on its own in projects like the goldwork. The metallic thread is known to easily tarnish, snag, tangle, and fraying, however, its brilliance and beauty make it outstanding.

Different Types of Embroidery Needles

1. Sharps

These are a type of embroidery needles designed for all general purposes in hand embroidery. The needles have a round eye and a medium length.

2. Embroidery needles

They are also called crewel needles and are characterized by long narrow eyes and very sharp points. The embroidery needles have a medium length and are available in various sizes from 1 – 10, with needles number 6 – 8 being the most commonly used.

3. Chenille

This is a thick and strong embroidery needle consisting of an elongated eye and a sharp point, making it ideal for thick fibers and coarse fabrics respectively. These needles are obtained in sizes 18 – 24.

4. Beading

Beading needles are very long and thin needles with tiny long eyes and a very sharp point. These needles are ideal for working on seed beads as they can easily go through the seed bead hole and are long enough to thread most beads. However, they can bend easily as they are not strong enough. They come in sizes 10 – 15.

5. Quilting needles

These needles are characterized by long shanks and small round eyes. These needles can penetrate easily through quilt layers and are capable of making small stitches ideal for quilting and hemming.


Tutorial Video-What Needle Should I Use to Embroider?



In conclusion, the above article has provided you with various information about embroidery, including techniques and materials for embroidery. You can use the above information to enhance your embroidery skills.