Updated on January 9, 2023 by Sarina Tariq
Hand embroidery is a wonderful thing. Simple one-dimensional outlines drawn on fabric are filled with some colorful threads, and you have a beautiful work of art that delights and rejuvenates your mind and comes alive in different dimensions.
Most of the stitches in hand embroidery can be used to fill these design outlines. Even the stitches used to outline the designs can fill embroidery designs. But most of us have favorites – like for whatever it is in life. These are my favorite filling stitches
Types of filling stitches
1. Satin stitch
This stitch is what comes to my mind the first time any design outline has to be filled – the satin stitch.
Smooth as satin – the stitch sounds easy but this is also the most difficult stitch to fill outlines, especially If you are particular about the outline of the stitch and the even stitches.
To get all the satin stitches starting and ending in the same outline and also to get all the stitches lying even and very smooth is a bit difficult and needs careful attention ( a good eyesight) .
If you have a more than 1/2 inch wide design, it won’t be easy to adequately and evenly cover with satin stitches. In this case, you will have to make rows of 1/2-inch satin stitches inside the design area and fill the in-between areas smoothly and evenly with straight stitches. Check out more on the satin stitch here.
A slanting satin stitch and padded satin stitch are also favourite filling stitches. A different effect can be given by making satin stitches and weaving through the thread ( as in laid work)
2. Chain stitch
Chain stitch is a very versatile stitch. There are about 20+ variations to chain stitch, and as such can be used as an outline stitch and a filling stitch; Chain stitch embroidery is a technique in which it is solely used to fill the designs.
You can see some commonly used motifs in chain stitch embroidery here.
You will have to thread your needle with all the 6 strands of the embroidery thread and make small chain stitch line starting from the outline and then filling the whole design
3. Long and short stitch
This stitch goes without saying is the favourite filling stitch of most. Long and short stitches are the best filling stitches when you have a big design area to fill. Another advantage of this stitch is that it is quite forgiving.
You can go back and fill the designs even after you have finished the work – if you see that some area is not completely filled.
(Needle painting is a technique of filling the whole design with many different coloured thread like strokes of a paint brush blending colours) can be used to fill designs in the most brilliant and realistic way.
Read more on long and short stitch here.
4. Blanket stitch
Another beautiful stitch which can look as pretty and smooth as satin stitch when used to full designs. The advantage of blanket stitch is that it gives you an outline on one side which can make the design stand out. You can make this stitch as close as you want to – which can almost mimic the look of satin stitches.
Read more on different types of blanket stitch here.
5. French knot filling
French knots can give a three dimensional look to the design. You will have to make several french knots and cover the whole area with small french knots.
It looks difficult, but for some, this is the easiest filling stitch because one single french knot can cover some area. The texture of the french knot is beautiful. You can give an outline stitch with a split stitch or stem stitch before filling the design with french knots. Other knot stitches like bullion knot stitch can also be used to fill designs depending on the effect you are looking for.
Read more on french knot embroidery stitches here.
6. Cross stitch
Cross stitch is a favorite embroidery stitch for many, and it can fill embroidery designs quite satisfactorily. The cross stitch-filled design’s effect is different from the other filling stitches.
It is not only the x shape that you can make with the cross stitch. Cross stitch can have many variations – I have a post on the 10 types of cross stitch here, out of which the Italian cross stitch, as well as the Hungarian cross stitch, are favorites of mine for filling a large area.
You can also check out the post on background stitches for more beautiful filling stitches; These can be used when you have a large area to fill.
Other filling stitches