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Satin Stitch Secrets

For the longest time I avoided satin stitch at all costs.  What was the point? A machine was always going to do a better job than I could - why put myself through the painful process of trying to make perfect stitches when they will never truly be perfect? 

Did you know that perfectionism is really just a form of procrastination? Yep.  That sort of all or nothing thinking ("If I am not going to do it perfect then there is no point in even trying") will get you NOWHERE. 

So once I got over myself I just started trying.  And my satin stitch wasn't perfect (it still isn't and never will be! Yay!) and I kept trying anyways.  So I would outline my satin stitched flower petals with back stitch to hide my uneven satin stitch edges:

And I kept practicing.  And practicing.  And learning.  And then I started feeling more confident and I dropped the outlines.

 And now my designs and personal work are HEAVY with satin stitch! It's now one of my most favorite stitches.   It doesn't take quite as long as I used to think and now that I have started relaxing and enjoying the process it has turned into the most meditative stitch for me.  I even do it with a single strand (vs the full 6-ply seen in the photos above) sometimes.  It's really no different than coloring in shapes in a coloring book.  So go get your zen-stitching on and try it!

How to and Variations

Satin stitch is a fill stitch (= a stitch used to fill a shape versus a stitch used for outlining a shape) consisting of straight stitches worked parallel to each other. 

 "Perfect" satin stitch should be worked with a single strand of embroidery floss. Using a single strand versus using a full 6-ply strand or even just 2 strands really makes a difference if you are trying to get a smooth, satin look to the shape you are filling.  I really wish it wasn't true, but it is.  

But I still enjoy using a full strand (6-ply) of floss when doing satin stitch! It all depends on the look you are going for.  Sometimes I want the super smooth, delicate look of a single strand and other times I want CHUNKY satin stitch.  I want TEXTURE.  I can't get chunky texture with a single ply!

I had fun creating this satin stitch sampler, experimenting with different plys and outlining.  Can you guess what variations I used to create the looks below?


Please enjoy this video where I talk a bit more about satin stitch and explain all of the variations above!




I encourage you to try something similar if you are interested in seeing how different plys and outlining and padding look in your hands. See below for the key to the sampler:




  • My satin stitches dont come out predictably even. I am using two ply consistently but this project is a baby quilt on a prequilted fabric. The hoop I have does not fit the thickness of the quilt so I have been using no hoop. The embroidery is just mostly small leaves like your picture, but the stitches seem to be taut as I embroider but flop and become loose when I am done. I dont know what to do. Please help.

    S D
  • I haven’t embroidered since I was a child. I am 60 now and I think you have rekindled a passion.

  • This is so informative, thank you! and I feel you on the cat front, we’ve all been there! xxx

  • Thank you for taking the time to show the Satin Stitch with each ply, and whether outlined or not!! It’s helping me make a decision on a project that may be slightly insane, but hopefully with less than 20 days to go (yup, I’ve got a deadline, oops!), I can use the Satin Stitch to cut down on how much time it takes me -and hopefully it doesn’t look too messy!

    M. Matthews
  • Although I have been embroidering since I was a child, I can now see there is so much more stitches that I know. Also, I need to perfect some of the stitches that I know. I need to know about starting and finishing a section.

    Florence Mokris

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