Fly stitch tutorial

To learn how to do fly stitch, why not check out my fly stitch tutorial. It includes:

  • illustrated embroidery stitch instructions
  • a fly stitch video
  • tips for success
  • variations on fly stitch
  • Royal School of Needlework stitch bank.

Fly stitch uses

Fly stitch is most commonly used to make V shapes. You can make them into Y shapes by making the stitch holding the V in place longer, like in the photo below from my stitch sampler design. If you work Y shaped fly stitches downwards in a row, you can create fly stitch leaf shapes.

It can also be used individually, like the dark blue fly stitches shown in the photo.

 Fly stitch tutorial, example on stitch sampler kit

Fly stitch tutorial

Fly stitch tutorial
  • Bring the needle up at 1, then down at 2 but don't pull the thread tight.
  • Bring the needle up at 3, keeping the thread in a loop under the needle.
  • Make a small vertical stitch by putting the needle back down at 4. 
  • Repeat, working downwards.

Fly stitch video

Tips for success

Fly stitch is a lovely easy stitch which doesn't often go wrong. You can see how I work the stitch in my fly stitch video. The trick is not to pull your stitches too tight.

Download my free stitch guide covering 10 easy embroidery stitches, including fly stitch.

Variations on fly stitch

You can use fly stitch to make a variety of shapes:

  • Firstly, you can make V shapes to cover the fabric surface, for example on flower petals, tufts of grass or bird wings. You can make the V shapes sharper or shallower by changing the angle of your stitching.
  • Secondly, you can make the V shapes into Y shapes by making the holding stitch longer, adding the stem of the Y. See the photo above.
  • Finally, you can make a flat U shape by making the stitch more shallow, with a little stitch over it to hold it in place, as usual.

To create fly stitch leaf shapes, you can make the fly stitches closer to each other or further apart.  You can create curved outlines by making some of the fly stitches longer than others, for example shorter fly stitches at the top or bottom of the leaf, as shown in this photo from my stitch sampler design:

Close-up showing fly stitch in different lengths

Try doing fly stitch in horizontal rows as well as vertically, for example to create a border.

More on fly stitch

The Royal School of Needlework has a stitch bank which aims to preserve every known stitch. It will become a world-wide directory of embroidery stitches. You can read their stitch bank entry for fly stitch and see their fly stitch tutorial here.