Tips, Stitches, and  Favorite Notions

VINTAGE BLOOMS -- If you are having difficulty with the applique and embroidery for Vintage Blooms, please look under the Oops! tab for a PDF file with an explanation or click  here.


Videos for the most basic embroidery stitches.

Thanks to Mary Corbet at for the wonderful videos she has shared with us.  There are lots of stitches on her website.  I've put the most basic and frequently used ones here for you to easily find.

How to Make the Stem Stitch

The Stem Stitch is my favorite hand embroidery stitch, because it is so versatile and so attractive.  The poor stem stitch doesn't get the attention it is due, in my opinion.  Most folks tend to stitch lines today using Backstitch, Running Stitch, and Chain Stitch, more than they do with Stem Stitch.  But Stem Stitch makes a beautiful line stitch.  Hopefully, the how-to video here will help you learn or perfect your stem stitch, and maybe you'll end up loving it, too!

How to Make the Outline Stitch

The Outline Stitch is a lot like the Stem Stitch -- only the position of the working thread is above the needle as you stitch -- or, if you're going upwards on your design, it's to the left of the needle.

Outline stitch can be used for fine lines and it can also be used for filling by working rows next to each other.  The noticeable difference between the outline stitch and the stem stitch is that the Outline Stitch forms a closer twist in the look of your line, so that you don't see the separation in the stitches as clearly as you do the Stem Stitch.

How to Make the Backstitch

The Backstitch is one of the basic stitches used in hand embroidery.  Like the Running Stitch, the Backstitch creates a line made up of straight stitches, but unlike the Running Stitch, there is no space between each stitch.

How to Make the Buttonhole Stitch

The Buttonhold Stitch (which is actually the blanket stitch, technically, but both terms are used interchangeably today) is used in many types of hand embroidery.  It is a very versatile stitch, and once you have the basic stitch down, it's just a matter of applying it in a variety of ways.

How to Make the Chain Stitch

The Chain Stitch is a versatile hand embroidery stitch that can be used to outline and to fill spaces.  It's a fun stitch to work and is done easily around curves, in lines, or in large spaces for filling.

How to Make the Lazy Daisy Stitch

The Detached Chain Stitch, also known as the "Lazy Daisy" or just "Daisy" stitch, is an isolated stitch -- that is, it stands on it's own as a stitch, without being connected to another stitch.  The Detached Chain Stitch is a very popular embroidery stitch, because it's an easy and pretty stitch.  It's perfect for flowers, petals, and leaves, but can be used in lots of different ways.

How to Make a French Knot

The embroidery instructions will usually tell you how many wraps to use for the French Knots.  Two wraps French Knots are most common, but there might be the occasion to use just one wrap, or perhaps for a larger knot, three wraps.  

How to Make the Colonial Knot

The Colonial Knot is sometimes confused with the French Knot.  This knot looks much the same but lies flatter on your fabric.  Sometimes this knot is better than the French Knot, especially if you are making many of them in a group.

How to Make a Fly Stitch

The Fly Stitch is a great stitch to add to leaves and flowers, as well as twigs, branches, and all types of greenery.  It is also a very common stitch used to cover seams in crazy quilts.

How to Make a Feather Stitch

The Feather Stitch is a great stitch for creating vines and branches.  It makes a great "spray" background for floral embroidery, and the Feather Stitch takes curves well.

My Favorite Notions for Hand Embroidery and Wool Applique

#1 -- 100% Cotton Woven Fusible Interfacing


This light-weight fabric is fused with a hot steam iron on the back of your embriodery block after you have traced the design and prior to stitching.  It stabilizes your background fabric, helping you to form the stitches better and the embroidery to look smoother.  In addition, since it is acting as a lining, it will hide any knots or tangles on the back of your work that may accidentally occur during stitching.

#2 Favorite -- Soft Fuse Premium Paper-backed Fusible Web


This fusible web leaves your cotton applique soft and pliable.  When used for wool applique, it never gums your needle and leaves the wool soft.

#3 Favorite -- Presencia Perle 12


Presencia Perle 12 is 100% cotton, color fast embroidery thread. As it is wound off the ball, it is equal to 2 strands of cotton embroidery floss sold in skeins. So that means no more separating strands. Simply cut off the length of Presencia, thread your needle and start stitching! The Presencia website has a conversion chart for DMC floss.  Click HERE for the link.


#4 Favorite – Thread Magic


Thread Magic  is a conditioner for all hand stitching threads – embroidery, quilting, binding, applique, or beading. It coats the thread with an invisible polymer that greatly reduces knots and tangles.


#5 Favorite – Primitive Gatherings Needles


These needles are very sharp and have a large eye for easy threading.  Use #24 for Perle 12 or 2 strands of floss and #22 for Perle 8 or larger threads.


#6 Favorite – Needle Dome


This great notion allows you to thread ten (10) needles with thread for your project and store them neatly. The needles fit into tiny slots evenly spaced around the dome and the thread wraps around a spool inside the dome. Then, like magic, you can pull the pre-threaded needles out one at a time without tangles! I just hate it when I run out of thread and have to stop stitching to re-thread my needle. Not anymore! The Needle Dome is a must have for a redwork, black work, or blue work project.


#7 Favorite – Tiger Tape


Used by hand quilters for many years, this removable tape is marked at 1/8 or 1/4 inch intervals as a guide for your perfect stitch length. The ¼ inch is great for blanket stitching and the 1/8 inch is helpful for beginners who are having trouble achieving a consistent stitch length.


#8 Favorite – Thimble Pads


I’m not a thimble girl.  Mother tried, but it just never worked for me.  However, there are times when my pushing finger gets really sore (and may even develop a callus). The Thimble Pad is a leather dot with very strong adhesive on the back. It strongly adheres to the part of the finger where you need protection and is easily removed. The adhesive is long lasting and one pad can be reused many, many times.


#9 Favorite – Embroidery Stitch Tool


This great compact, take-anywhere guide shows you how to produce 180 stitches and stitch combinations for hand embroidery, silk ribbon embroidery, and crazy quilting.  One of the biggest features that sets it apart from all other embroidery guides is that it is beautifully illustrated in full color for both left-handed and right-handers.


#10 Favorite -- Method Pen for Tracing Designs


I have always used a Micron Pigma, size 01, color red for tracing designs for redwork embroidery, and color brown for all others. These pens produce a clear, crisp, very thin line for your stitching. The line is easily covered by your embroidery thread. However, they are permanent markers and mistakes cannot be erased. If this makes you nervous, I would recommend using a Sewline pencil. These pencils have ceramic

                                                                  lead and produce a very thin, crisp line that can be erased (except for the charcoal

                                                                  one). I suggest using the pink Sewline for redwork and the pink or green Sewline for

                                                                  all other designs.