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How to Stem Stitch – video

How to Stem Stitch - video

A few weeks ago I released a pattern called It’s a Dirty Job – all about how much I hate doing the dishes.

It's a Dirty Job embroidery pattern

I used stem stitch for that little bit of script at the end – and I promised a how-to video soon. Well – here it is! How to stem stitch.

This is a really common outline stitch that I hardly ever use. I’m not sure why – it’s certainly very easy. It’s just that I always default to back stitch or split stitch. But if you need to outline tight curves – stem stitch is definitely the way to go. It’ll give you the smoothest curves around cursive letters or twisty vines.

Here are all my lessons for outline embroidery stitches.

Return to the Learn to Embroider main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons teaching fill stitches.


  1. Georgette Cosenza SAYS...

    Thank you for posting this video on how to do a stem stitch on curves. You make it look so easy and the camera position is perfect. I saw another video on the same stitch and it was horrible. The camera kept blocking how to do the stitch. Now when I need to know how to do a stitch I will go to your page.

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      Thanks so much! I passed your nice comment on to my husband since he does all the camera work for me. I think he does a terrific job, too!

  2. Jennifer Griste SAYS...

    I agree your video was great, but is there a trick to corners?

    • Not really. When you get to a corner, just act like you’re coming to the end of the line. Turn the corner and start the next bit as if you were starting a new line of stitching – pretend the bit you just stitched isn’t even there.

  3. Dawn H SAYS...

    Thank you Wendi! For some reason I have had problems with the simple stem stitch but this video makes it look so easy and simple, now I know I can do it. Your explanation and tips are very helpful and much appreciated! Thank you from Dawn

  4. Barkha Gorana SAYS...

    Easy and clear instructions of embroidery . Thank you .

    • Rosemary B. SAYS...

      Thanks, Wendy. I agree that your tutorials are so concise. I’m 79 and have been embroidering forever but I always am open to improving what I do and I definitely learn something from you each time. Thank you for sharing and teaching. Also, I think I do think I do things backwards ..I embroider from left to right and it looks like you do just the opposite. It’s worked for me but, if that’s the case, I’m going to try the way you do it. Thanks again.

      • I don’t think it really matters what direction you stitch in – as long as you’re consistent. When you switch directions mid-project it’s weirdly noticeable. 🙂

  5. Patricia SAYS...

    Thank you, Wendi