Satin Stitches and French Knots

With just a few basic stitches, you can create a beautiful and colorful piece of embroidery art. I'm going to go over a few tips and techniques I used on these lovely Bluebirds that I hope will help you out as you stitch! You can find the printed fabric sampler or printable pattern download of this design in the little dear shop.

For this sampler, I've used a combination of Stem Stitches and Back Stitches for the line work, some Lazy Daisies and lots of Satin Stitches and French Knots.

(If you need some basic stitch tutorials, visit the Embroidery DIY tutorials!)

I'm using DMC floss colors 3848, 597, 311, 351, 352 and 402, 3 threads of floss everywhere except for the green stems and bow details on the bird wings, those are 2 threads.

I get asked a lot at my classes how to make nice, even Satin Stitch shapes so here are a few pointers.

To stitch a circle like the light orange ones above, I always start with the one longest stitch in the center (at 1.) Next, add two slightly shorter stitches on either side (at 2) and go back and forth making shorter stitches on the outside edges until your circle is more or less even. It can take some practice to get them just right (and mine are definitely not always perfect, don't be too hard on yourself!) It's also perfectly fine to go back and add another stitch or two (or several) over the top to smooth it out.

This is a great technique for smaller circles, and works great for the eyes on felt animals!

If you're stitching a larger circle, it can help to first stitch a Back Stitch around the edge of the circle and then make your Satin Stitches over the top of the outline.

For the fan shape on the right, start with the stitches on the outer edges (at 1,) starting at the top, and ending just short of the point at the bottom. Next work your way towards the center with more stitches (2) and then the very center stitches will reach all the way to the point, covering up any uneven ends from the previous ones.

You can also do this in reverse order like the lower orange fan shape in the previous photo, and the outer stitches will form the point at the bottom instead.

For Satin Stitched wheel circles that are open in the center like these flowers, all the stitches point towards the center. It helps a lot to first draw a star shape over the pattern to guide the direction of your stitches as you go around the circle.

Keep in mind that your stitches will be slightly farther apart at the outer edge than at the inner edge, you might even overlap every other stitch or so at the center to help keep them even.

Now let's talk a bit about French Knots. You can get different sizes of French Knots by wrapping the floss around your needle more times. I used 3 threads of floss for each of the knots here, you can see how the sizes vary depending on the number of wraps.

For the extra large ones, I would normally just use all 6 threads with less wraps, but I wanted to see how they would turn out so I tried it this way. (Some of them did come out a little wonky so I ended up adding another tiny stitch here and there to hold those in place. :)

I hope this was helpful to you!

Pick up this lovely sampler or pattern download (and many more) at the little dear shop and have fun stitching.

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