Satin stitch tutorial

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

  • illustrated embroidery stitch instructions
  • a satin stitch video
  • tips for success
  • variations on satin stitch, including long and short stitch for thread painting
  • Royal School of Needlework stitch bank.

Satin stitch uses

You use satin stitch to fill a shape with a solid block of colour which has a smooth finish.  

Keep your stitches close together without gaps, and make sure they go in the same direction, especially when you’re using satin stitch on more than one shape. On the photo below from the fifth circle on my stitch sampler kit you can see that all the circular blobs are stitched vertically. 

If you stitch outwards from the middle of the shape you’re filling, it will help to keep your stitches straight. 


Satin stitch tutorial, example on stitch sampler kit

Satin stitch tutorial

Satin stitch tutorial
  • Make sure your hoop is holding the fabric tightly. 
  • To avoid puckering and wrinkles, don't pull satin stitches too tight. 
  • To keep your stiches straight, do a straight stitch down the centre of the circular shape, bringing the needle up at 1 and down at 2. 
  • Then work the rest of the satin stitches to the right of the central stitch, bringing the needle up close to 1 and down again close to 2. 
  • Continue until you reach the edge of the circle. 
  • Then do satin stitches to the left of the central stitch. 
  • Keep the stitches close to each other to fill the space without leaving gaps.  

Satin stitch video

Tips for success

  • Above all, make sure the fabric in the hoop is taut. Otherwise you'll get puckers and wrinkles which will be very difficult to iron out later.
  • Make sure your embroidery thread isn't twisted and it's lying flat. Watch my video on preparing thread for more on this.
  • It will come with practice. But if you find it difficult to get your satin stitches even and without gaps, try using just one strand of thread. 
  • Don't pull your thread too tight, or the fabric will pucker.
  • Stitch to the outside edge of the printed lines on the fabric pattern.
  • Don't try to cover a large area with satin stitch, no more than a centimetre (about half an inch). Use long and short stitch instead for larger areas.
  • Your satin stitches shouldn't overlap, but lie alongside each other.
  • If I'm going to outline my satin stitches, I prefer to do the satin stitch first. Then I do the outlining, usually in back stitch, so I can hide any uneven edges on my satin stitch. If that doesn't work for you, try doing the outline in back stitch first. You can then use the outline stitch as a guide for where to start and finish your satin stitches. 

Download my free stitch guide covering 10 basic embroidery stitches, including satin stitch.

Variations on satin stitch

To get a more raised effect you can pad your satin stitching. You do the padding by filling the shape with little straight stitches which you then cover with your satin stitches.

Long and short stitch is similar to satin stitch. But instead of stitches being the same length they're a series of long, medium and short straight stitches. They're done very close to each other, often going through each other and overlapping.

It’s very useful for thread painting where long and short stitch is done using closely-related shades of thread colour so the colours blend into each other.  See my thread painting kit if you want to learn more on this.

Long and short stitch on my thread painting kit

More on satin 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 satin stitch and see their satin stitch tutorial here.