Scallop Stitches and Backstitches (Now you can embroider words)

how to tutorial

Scallop Stitches and Backstitches and how to "write" with embroidery thread!

Now that you've mastered the straight stitch, and I've shared some examples with you, let's move on, and learn 2 more embroidery stitches. 

If you missed the straight stitch tutorial, click here.

Backstitch

How to embroider a backstitch

The backstitch is a straight stitch with an extra step. Sounds complicated, but it's not. It's how you would stitch a straight line. Let's take a look:

If you follow the instructions, and then repeated, you would end up with a straight line, like this:

Backstitch example

Now the scallop stitch

Scallop stitches are so versatile, and apply to to many embroidery techniques. They are also the basis of making a lazy daisy, which I'll show you later. Here's how to create a scallop stitch. 

how to embroider a scallop stitch

Now make a few on your own, and try the following variations:

-make the 3rd stitch farther from the 1st and 2nd stitches for a taller stitch

-make the 1st and 2nd point farther apart for a skinnier stitch

-now do the opposite for a plump stitch

scallop stitch practice

Is there a "right" size for stitching?

Unless otherwise noted, there is no right or wrong stitch size. However, if your stitches are really big, they are also easy to snag, and you don't want a big loop hanging out from the front of your hoop. 

"Writing" with thread

Now that you have the basis for these 2 stitches, you can embroider words. Here's a quick how-to:

how to embroider text

And the little "o" is my favorite with one scallop stitch on top, and one directly underneath. 

writing with thread

Neat, huh?

Here's a couple of examples from my own embroidery. This was a love note embroidered as a wedding handkerchief.

writing with thread

And cursive, too, though it's more scallops than backstitches. Here's a hankie that I made back in the fall 2016.

cursive writing with thread

And some non-text examples too

Here's the lazy daisy stitch that I told you about earlier. Can you see it? It's a skinny scallop stitch! And when stitched around a French knot (we'll learn this soon), it creates a flower! 

lazy daisy

You can also use it as a fill stitch. If you're unfamiliar, a "fill stitch" is for filling in an area, just like it sounds. It can refer to any stitch. The backstitch here is used as a fill stitch (the blush pink in the middle of the photo).  This is a close-up of a contemporary landscape that I embroidered, made up of different stitches to create lots of texture. 

backstitch as a fill stitch

Backstitching is the best for outlining. It's clean, and easy to make longer or shorter without affecting the look of the outline. Here's a corner of an octopus underwater hoop that I stitched. 

outline stitch

Now that you've learned a straight stitch and a backstitch, you are on a roll, and I'd say you are ready for your first embroidery project. 

If you are someone who loves instant gratification, I have several downloadable PDF embroidery designs in my shop

And you can always download my free stitch guide here as a reference guide. 


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