Do you want to add more variety to your hand embroidery projects by stitching different types of leaves or flowers?
After all, when you look at flowers and foliage in their natural setting, they’re rarely exactly the same!
Since flowers and leaves are probably the most common motif in hand embroidery, it’s good to have a whole arsenal of stitching techniques on hand for embroidering them.
Here are sixteen different ways you can embroider leaves and flower petals.
Whether the samples below demonstrate how to embroider a leaf or how to embroider a flower, with a few tweaks, you can use any of them interchangeably for flowers or for leaves – just the stitching techniques to your petal or leaf shape.
Each technique links to an article or a video that will take you step-by-step through the embroidery process. Many of the techniques were worked in isolation for the sake of demonstration, but some of them are parts of larger projects, extracted to show you the technique.
Although the raised fishbone stitch was not covered in the recent Stitch Fun series on hand embroidered leaves, I thought I’d include the link here. It’s a video tutorial, and it makes beautiful large or small leaves that are slightly raised.
Regular Fishbone Stitch can be used to create leaves as well. They are not quite as raised as the raised fishbone stitch. The alternating overlap in the fishbone (and raised fishbone) stitch creates a natural spine down the center of the leaf.
Satin Stitch Leaves with Sharp Tips
In this photo tutorial, which is part of this Tudor-Style Rose project, I show you how to pad tiny satin leaves and embroider them so that they have a nice, sharp tip.
In this photo tutorial, which is part of the Mission Rose project, we look at very padded satin stitch leaves in silk, and we talk about stitch direction, the play of light on silk threads, and other aspects that will affect the finished look of the leaves.
Long & Short Stitch Shaded Leaf – Simple Shape
In this photo tutorial, which is part of the Long & Short Stitch shading lessons here on Needle ‘n Thread, I show you how to work a simple leaf shape in long and short stitch, shading from light on the outside to dark on the inside.
Long & Short Stitch Shaded Leaf – Slightly More Complex
This photo tutorial, also part of the Long & Short Stitch shading lessons here on Needle ‘n Thread, concentrates on a slightly more complex leaf shape, shaded from dark on the outside to light on the inside. We talk about stitch direction, and we look at a simple way to add a tiny shadow on each tip, to make the leaf stand out a bit.
Long & Short Stitch Shaded Leaf – with a Turnover
Also part of the Long & Short Stitch shading lessons, this tutorial focuses on a more complex leaf with a turn-over on the tip. It involves long & short stitch shading and padded satin stitch.
Free-Style Embroidered Holly Leaves
This Stitch Fun tutorial demonstrates how to embroidery quick, free-style holly leaves, without using a pattern.
Simple Daisy Stitch (or Detached Chain Stitch) for Leaves
Never underestimate the power of the simple stitch! The detached chain stitch (also called the daisy stitch or the lazy daisy stitch) makes terrific, simple leaves and flower petals! This is a video tutorial.
Where are the leaves? Well, in the video tutorial for granitos, the samples show petals on flowers, but granitos can make very effective, simple leaves, too!
Cast-on Stitch & Double Cast-on Stitch
Again, the samples for the video tutorial for the cast-on stitch illustrate the stitch used for petals on flowers, but with a little manipulation, both stitches work great for leaves, too – especially the double cast-on stitch.
There are clear step-by-step photo instructions for the double cast-on stitch in the Cast-On and Double Cast-on Stitch printable available as an e-book.
In the video tutorial for the woven picot stitch, you’ll see how to make a terrific dimensional stitch that works really well for leaves and petals.
You can also find step-by-step photo instructions for the woven picot stitch in my Lavender Honey & Other Little Things e-book, where I use the stitch to create dimensional sunflowers.
Using a combination of fly stitch and twisted chain stitch – or just using fly stitch – you can create quick, simple leaves with turned tips. This step-by-step photo tutorial will show you how.
In this step-by-step photo tutorial, you’ll see how to create broad leaves with a braid down the center spine, using the closed cretan stitch.
The tiny buttonhole stitch leaves demonstrated in this step-by-step photo tutorial work well for ground foliage. They can also be enlarged and worked with heavier thread.
The rose leaf stitch can be used to create shaded leaves and to embroider buds. The photo tutorial for the shaded leaves demonstrates the movement of the stitch step-by-step, with plenty of tips to help you through it.
The rose leaf stitch bud tutorial shows you how to adapt the stitch to create a little rose bud.
I hope all these tutorials help you to add variety and interest to your hand embroidery endeavors!
If you have any other suggestions for tutorials that you’d like to see on Needle ‘n Thread, feel free to leave a comment below.
You can find this list of tutorials permanently linked under the Stitch Fun series index under Tips & Techniques here on Needle ‘n Thread. You can also find a direct link under Hand Embroidery Lessons & Step-by-Step Projects in the Tips & Techniques section.
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