What can I use a stitch outline for?

When working on an embroidery project, there are lots of different stitches you can combine to make your crafts original.

You can make a whole design with just one simple stitch, or use a mix of the easiest and the most complex stitches.

That’s up to you! Here you have one of the first stitches you should learn when you are just starting to learn the embroidery craft: the stitch outline!

making a stitch outline

How to make a stitch outline?

Some of the most common designs resemble the drawings we used to make when we were kids: drawing pictures on canvas, outlining it with a line and then “coloring” inside the figures. For outlining, there are many options you can choose, but one of the classic choices is the outline stitch. How does it work?

Thread or yarn, An embroidery needle

For starting with an embroidery project, as usual, you need:

  • Canvas
  • Thread or yarn
  • An embroidery needle
  1. Once you have planned the design you want to create, thread your needle and let’s get embroidering! Pierce the canvas from back to front, leaving the working thread at the front of the fabric.
  2. Let’s call this point “A”. Now pierce to the back, leaving a medium distance between both points. This distance shouldn’t be too long, so that there is tension and tightness on the thread, but it shouldn’t be too short, because of the following step.
  3. We will call this second point “B”. Now, we don’t recommend pulling the thread fully, but leave a hoop. Place the hoop above the line you want to create, and now pull the needle through the canvas just between both points, and we will call this third point “C”.
  4. This way, if we look at the order of points, now it is A, C and B, with point C appearing between A and B.
  5. This are the main pillars to create this embroidery outline stitch. After pulling the needle out, pierce through to the back ahead of the B point, and get back to the front through the B point.
  6. This way, with every stitch you have to move forward in the front of the canvas, but you have to go reverse in the back. Repeat this process along the whole surface you want to cover.

Here you can watch a video about outline stitch

What do I need to keep in mind with an outline stitch?

There are some things you need to consider when using this stitch

  • Use short stitches to make neat lines
  • You should always keep the working thread on top
  • Go forward in the front of the canvas, and reverse on the back
  • It’s the opposite of stem stitch, which requires keeping the working thread below


stitch outline

What can I use this stitch for?

All embroidery outlines can be used either, as the name says, for outlining figures, or for filling them. There are some classic filling stitches that will turn out in neat, seamless results, but you might also want a textured filling, and this can be your go-to stitch to achieve that.

We’re glad to have helped you with your embroidery needs and hope this stitch outline tutorial has come in handy!

If you want to continue learning about more kinds of stitches then click here to learn ‘How to sew a ladder stitch’.