In hand embroidery, the satin stitch seems to be considered “difficult” to stitch well. I don’t know why that is. I love the look of satin stitch. With practice, it can be an easy, beautiful stitch for coverage. Here are some of the things I do to make my satin stitched items look good:
I find that satin stitch looks better and is easier to do when your fabric is mounted in a hoop or on a frame, with good tension.
First, outline the shape to be covered with back stitch or split stitch. This ensures an even edge around the shape. Depending on the “thickness” of the satin stitched area, I use either one, two, or three strands of floss for stitching around the edge. Usually, it’s two strands. The color corresponds with the color of the thread used for the satin stitching.
Then I fill the center of the shape to be covered with straight stitches perpendicular to the finishing satin stitch.
The last step is to do the satin stitching. For this, I start in the middle of the shape, and work towards one edge, then go back to the middle, and work to the other edge. I work just on the outside of the back-stitched outline. I pick up only one thread of fabric between stitches, and sometimes, I even split that thread, depending on the weight of the floss I’m using and the type of fabric. I prefer to use one strand of stranded embroidery floss for satin stitch, but, again, depending on the weight of the fabric, sometimes I’ll use two or more. The finished product seems to look smoother with just one thread. If you use two or more, make sure you let your needle and thread hang often to untwist.
Satin stitching without padding: There are times when it is necessary to satin stitch without any padding underneath, because you don’t want the thickness of the padding on your design. In these cases, I still manage a tiny backstitch around the edge of the design, and I keep my stitches as close together as possible.
For satin stitched small dots, I try to stitch in a grid pattern – three center stitches over five threads in the fabric, with a stitch over three threads on each side of the center stitches – to give the appearance of a round dot. I don’t outline small satin stitched dots with back stitch first.
I hope those hints help…. pictures coming soon!