Embroidery Machine Stitches: Choosing the Right Stitch the First Time

Embroidery machine stitch types are confusing. There are several stitch types to choose from on your machine, and trying to pick the right one for your project may be a hassle. We’re going to be going back to the basics in this article to help you become a master of embroidery stitch types.

We’ll be taking a look at the most common stitch types on embroidery machines like the Brother PE770 embroidery machine and when you should use each stitch on the unit.

Embroidery Machine Stitch Types: The Big 3

You’re probably waiting to hear about a dozen different stitch types, but the truth is that stitches all do the same thing. While there are three main stitch options or types, they all follow the same premise:

  • Point to point lines

There are no fancy knots or loops to worry about – just lines. And these lines allow us to make virtually any pattern we wish. While embroidery machines have become more sophisticated, they really only have a few stitches that you’ll be working with.

Sure, you have different options available to you, such as lettering, but everything will fall within the following three stitches:

1. Straight Stitch

A straight stitch is the foundation of all embroidery. These stitches will repeat a line of stitches, and they may vary in length and width. When using a straight stitch, you’ll have a repeat of single lines to make a single pattern.

Thicker lines are made by repeating a stitch over many passes.

And the machine will be able to use software to make fancy lines and curves. Since patterns are meant to be fun and exciting, curves and shapes are able to be made, so everything isn’t just straight. You can make anything with the straight line from logos to ornate pictures and more.

When you want to use a straight stitch, remember that they’re used most often for:

  • Detail work
  • Shading
  • Single color drawings
  • Outlining

And if you’ve done any manual work before, you’ll find that the straight stitch is very similar in nature to the manual stitch. A manual stitch allows stitches to be plotted individually, and this is exactly what the straight stitch has to offer, too.

2. Satin / Column Stitch

Satin stitches are most commonly used with text. While these stitches can be used outside of text, they provide a shiny look that is perfect for most designs. The anatomy of a satin (or column) stitch is essentially a stitch that tracks back and forth over a small area.

When this stitch is made, it will alternate between a straight and angled stitch.

Unbroken, long threads allow the satin stitch to exist. When threads are long and unbroken, they are able to maintain that “shiny” look. You’ll want to use this stitch on areas that are less than a centimeter across and other project areas, including:

  • Inside text
  • Borders

Anything that is narrow and can be enhanced with a shiny look will be the perfect spot for satin stitches.

3. Fill Stitch

The fill stitch goes by many names, such as the ceding or tatami stitch, too. For ease of identification, many embroiderers have settled on the “fill stitch” name. This stitch’s purpose is indicated by its name: it is used to fill patterns.

Alternated lines are used with these stitches that makes them look woven.

You can change the density of the fill to provide a different effect, but generally, these stitches are used when you need to completely cove the base material. For example, you can make a fill of circles or squares that are all one color.

And you can make blended colors, too, for added effects.

While satin may be more appealing and have a nicer overall finish, satin stitches aren’t the best option for larger areas. Fill stitches aren’t “shiny,” but high-end machines allow you to make curved lines with these stitches, providing the appearance of volume and adding to your embroidery versatility.

Keep in mind that when trying to blend colors, the process is a delicate one and very tedious.

Mastering Stitches for Advanced Designs

Embroidery machines have far fewer stitch options than you would find when embroidering by hand. And since this is the case, it can be harder to make a desired design without practice. We recommend learning the way the stitches are formed (we mentioned this for each type), and practicing to see where each stitch works best. You can also learn more about your embroidery machine over here.

What is most important to remember is that all of these stitches are the building blocks to anything you can create.

Again, it’s common for a person to want to jump right into a design and get frustrated by not knowing which stitch is the best option. Mastering stitches is all trial and error, so sit down with an easy project first and progress until you have a complete understanding of the versatility and purpose of each stitch.

Click here to read our reviews of the best embroidery machines today.

1 thought on “Embroidery Machine Stitches: Choosing the Right Stitch the First Time”

  1. I was wanting to make shirts and other swag for the family reunion this fall. I didn’t realize that there are three different stitch types when embroidering. I am going to try and do these stitches but if I can’t I think I might have them professionally embroidered. Thanks for the information!


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