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How to Split Stitch – video

How to Split Stitch - close up image of a row of stitching

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Sign up for Embroidery 101 here. You’ll learn how to get started, the tools and supplies you’ll need, the four most basic stitches, how to transfer your pattern and how to display your work.

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The split stitch is a lovely outline stitch. It’s raised a bit from the surface of the fabric, and it has a lovely, almost-braided look to it. It also forms a more continuous line – unlike the backstitch where you can see the individual stitches.

Here’s how to split stitch.

See how easy it is?

Split stitch is great for outlines where I want a little texture – but it has other uses too. I almost always use it to outline the edge of a space I plan to cover with satin stitch. It helps to give your satin stitching a sharp, raised edge.

You can also use split stitch as a fill stitch, filling in large areas with that braided texture. I used that a lot in this free Feast embroidery pattern.

Enough is as good as a feast - embroidery

You can see split stitch used as a fill stitch in the sun and the clouds, and regular split stitch used for the lettering.

Have fun with it!


  1. I discovered your site this morning and have thoroughly enjoyed it and learned several things. I’ve been wanting to get started embroidering, but I’m a little unsure about what thread to use. I cross stitch an have a ton of that thread. Is that what is used for embroidery? Thank you for all of the inspiration!
    Melissa Faires

  2. Melissa,

    You can use any kind of thread you like to embroider – wool, silk, cotton – twisted, single-strand, etc. I use plain ol’ DMC 6 strand thread for most of my stitching – and I’m guessing that’s what you use for your cross-stitching. It’s inexpensive, comes in a rainbow of droolworthy colors, and readily available.

    Sometimes I use yarn for super fat stitching. Honestly – if you can get it through a needle you can probably embroider with it.

  3. Love this! I’m learning so much with your vids! I can’t wait to go to the craft store tomorrow to get more supplies and actually make…something!

  4. Fabulous! Be sure to show us what you make!

  5. Perfect tutorial! As your split stitch. Wow, love how you show this.

  6. Jodie SAYS...

    Thank you so much for your wonderful tutorials.

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      I’m glad they’ve been helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Juliet McDonald SAYS...

    I have been a stitcher for a long time – but I have forgotten a lot because I have wandered away into quilting & beading for years now. Your video embroidery lessons work very nicely as refresher courses.
    Thanks so much – Juliet

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      I’m glad they’ve been helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Ann Hubble SAYS...

    I just found your site and am so thrilled. Your videos are really excellent! Thank you so much.

  9. GrandmasBeans SAYS...

    Thank you so much for the tutorial!! I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, but now my French knots look so much better. (And actually resemble French knots!) I love your tutorials!

    • Thanks so much! I’m so glad it helped! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Janie SAYS...

    Can I split stitch a border with 3 strands of dmc floss and do the the satin stitch over it with cotton pearl floss? Must the colors of the border and satin stitch match EXACTLY? Thanks. Your videos have helped so much I can’t believe what I’d do without them. I’ve been embroidering a week and you have helped my progression fly!!

    • Yes – you can use different threads. And the colors don’t need to match exactly – it’ll just make it easier if your stitching isn’t PERFECT and the color below peeks through a bit.

  11. Anonymous SAYS...

    Great video love it

    • Kathi Merlino SAYS...

      I love that split stitch and am wondering how many strands of floss you’d recommend for this stitch.

      • Any even number. Choose more threads for a thicker line. I often use 4 strands – but it totally depends on the scale of the design.

        • Kathy SAYS...

          I’m watching all of yr videos for a refreshing course…I love how you are so detailed in videos and make it look so easy…just love yr site and you are so helpful…thank you…you’re my go too now!! HAPPY Day to you!!

  12. RASHA SAYS...

    I love ur tutorials … thank you soo much

  13. Brianna SAYS...

    Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. N SAYS...

    Hi, I love your clear videos, thank you so much!
    I have a quick split stitch Q, probably I am overthinking thisโ€ฆbut when we are bringing the needle back up from underneath, about to split the stitch, does the needle need to come up through the same hole in the fabric that our previous stitch had gone down into? I hope this was clear! Thank you again ๐Ÿ™‚

    • No – the needle comes up in the middle of the stitch – between the two holes.