I think it’s pretty safe to say that flower designs are an absolute classic part of embroidery styles both vintage and modern. Simply type “embroidery” into Pinterest and you’ll find that nine out of ten image results will feature flowers! And with spring firmly in the air up here in Edinburgh, it feels like the perfect time to take a deeper dive into the world of floral embroidery design. Since there are probably as many ways to design and stitch flowers as there are actual species in the natural world, I thought it would be most useful to take you through a selection of the best building block stitches and show you a few examples of the results they can give. That way, you can feel confident to move forward with your own unique design.
Ok, so this one probably doesn’t even count as a building block because it literally is just a flower! But that’s what makes it so excellent and worthy of being number one on this list. The name may well be a bit of a giveaway, but this stitch is a lovely beginner-friendly option for embroidering daisy-style flowers. There are a few simple steps to master, but once you do, it will become super easy to create quick daisy shapes. You can use it to create something very minimal or add loads of petals to make a fuller floral form. I’ve also seen it be adapted slightly and used to create leaf shapes, which is useful to bear in mind if you want to include some greenery in your botanical embroideries. I really love this stitch and include it in all my beginner kits which you can find out more about here.
French knots are a really versatile stitch when it comes to all things floral. You could use a single knot to create a tiny central circle for a small daisy design, for example, or cluster them together for a textured sunflower head. They also work really well in designs that have a large quantity of small flowers such colourful bouquets and flowing vines. If you’re imagining bright tulips, blooming blossoms or vibrant mimosas, this could well be the stitch for you.
Bullion Knot Roses
I sometimes think of these amazing stitches as a sort of levelled-up version of French knots as they feature the same process of wrapping your thread around your needle. The end shape is of course different though and I feel like it allows for more varied results. One of the most popular uses is probably to create roses by layering up multiple knots in a circular formation but I’ve also seen them used to make stunning lavender scenes and other petal shapes, too.
We’ve built up the difficulty level a bit with these last examples, so let’s bring it back to this basic but brilliant stitch. I’ve already talked a bit about satin stitch and flowers in my satin stitch post, but it’s worth mentioning again here as I really do love it for creating plush, full petals that really pack a punch in your floral design. It’s particularly great for creating bold shapes that stand out from one another like in this lovely example and is always super useful to use when you have a large space that you’d like to cover with colour.
Bringing it back to basics even further here with the ever-classic back stitch. While I love a bold, colourful flower as much as the next person, I’m also a sucker for simplicity and this stitch is the ultimate option for creating elegant, minimal line-drawing designs. It’s also the ideal stitch to use if you’d like to create a sharp outline of a shape before filling it in. Another way you could use it is for creating delicate stems to go with fuller flowers heads because, of course, flowers aren’t all about the petals and heads – there’s also the greenery element to consider!
While we’re on the subject of stems, there’s another option out there whose name says it all when it comes to how perfect it is – stem stitch. It’s not dissimilar to back stitch in its execution, so it’s still super beginner friendly, and is a lovely way to create winding stems, stalks and branches with an added texture element.
Keeping on the greenery theme, you surely can’t get a more fitting stitch for your leaves than… leaf stitch! This is such a gorgeous way to create textured, densely coloured leaves that can stand strong next to your petals. Despite its very specific name, it’s actually a very versatile stitch and, once you master it, you’ll also find that it can be used as an element in all kinds of other designs. I use it in all my intermediate kits, for example the red leaf shapes on my butterfly.
The final stitch suggestion to complete the list for today is also inspired by nature. But don’t be fooled by the name because this doesn’t really look like a feather at all! It’s actually what you’ll see running up through the middle of my Butterfly design pictured above. I think you’ll all agree that it would clearly be a great one to use for creating delicate stems, perhaps with many small flowers along all the ends, or just one larger one perched proudly on the top. There are lots of options here as always!
If you’re feeling inspired to jump into some floral embroidery but need a little extra guidance with these stitches, you can find tutorials for all of them on my YouTube channel. There are, of course, many more ways to create stunning stitched flowers but I didn’t want to overwhelm you all with too many options! The selection I’ve detailed today is already a great start and should get you well on your way to creating beautiful bouquets in no time at all.