Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidery Stitch Video Tutorial: The Running Stitch & Finishing Threads


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Running Stitch is the most basic hand embroidery stitch. It is simply an “up and down” stitch in the fabric. Even though it’s such a basic embroidery stitch, there are many, many things you can do with it!

Running stitch can be used quite effectively in all levels of hand embroidery – don’t overlook it as a possibility in even the most complex types of hand embroidery.

Running Stitch Video

You can vary the look of the running stitch by changing the length of the stitches and the length of the distance between the stitches.

The key to an attractive running stitch is keeping both the stitch length and the interval length consistent across the line of stitching. However, if you’re purpose is to intentionally change stitch lengths in order to achieve a certain look, feel free to do so!

Running Stitch Video

In addition to using the running stitch “as is,” the stitch can also be used as a base for other composite stitches.

Whipped and laced running stitches, for examples, are effective embellishments on hand embroidery projects.

Running Stitch Patterns

Running stitch is used for an embroidery technique called “pattern darning,” where lines of running stitch are worked to form a fill pattern on linen or canvas.

Running Stitch Patterns

By varying the direction of the running stitches and the spaces between them, all kinds of patterns can develop!

Running Stitch Patterns

Pattern darning is done easily on even-weave linen or on needlepoint canvas, but it can also be worked on plain weave fabrics (though it’s much more difficult to keep the spacing and stitch length even!).

Running Stitch Patterns

With a little imagination, you can work up all kinds of fill patterns with running stitch. The pattern in the photo above would work great for the roof of an embroidered house, or the sides of an embroidered basket.

So, though running stitch is the most basic stitch, you can see that it has lots of potential!

Here’s the video:

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If you’d like to learn more embroidery stitches, you can find over 75 how-to videos for hand embroidery here on Needle ‘n Thread, along with many other embroidery stitch instructions in this A-Z stitch dictionary, and, for fun, complex, and interesting stitch combinations, check out the Stitch Fun Series, too.

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(83) Comments

  1. Pat Hall in Ohio WOW!!! I am in awe of this and will be checking them often I am going to make a redwork quilt by Crabapplehillstudio and it has lots of redwork in it. thank you thank you!! Pat

  2. Thanks for this wonderful website But unfortunately I am not able to see the video since I don’t get anything on the screem on clicking the control. Which software is needed for this to be viewed? Please help!!

  3. Thank you so much for this! Clear instructions, calmly spoken, easy to see what you are doing. . .you just took the stress of re-learning away (it’s been 18 years!). Happy holidays!!!

  4. Thank you for posting these videos. I was taught these stitches in my Home economics classes in high school & since have forgotten them. I recently decided to pick the art back up again for fun & to decorate some small items for my wedding & found that I needed some help re-learning the stitches. Your videos are simple & helpful. Almost like being back in my classes and learning again. Thank you so much.

  5. I was wondering what type of fabric do you use. I just starting to get into this. and what size is your tread. I am using DCM Floss. thanks

  6. Hi,

    Your fabric choice depends on what you want to do. You can embroider on any kind of fabric. For filming stitches, I use whatever scraps I have available – cotton, linen, etc. I prefer stitching on linen, but for just starting out, you can use regular cotton – a “high count” (fairly tightly woven) muslin works nicely. If you have a project in mind, the project will probably dictate the type of fabric you use.

    DMC floss is fine. Depending on the fabric and the project, you would use several of the strands, or, if working something very detailed and fine, one strand.

    Hope that helps!


  7. thank you so much for the help. I am going to start working on a cherry blossom tree, I think that I will work on musin. Thanks again

  8. Wonderful!! thank you so much for providing this. i am currently taking on the task of teaching a class of young girls; the lost art of needlework and other “lady-like” accomplishments. I am so happy that I found this site… It will be so helpful!!

  9. Hi!! this is absolutely awesome!! I did a few needlework projects in high school, but that was 2 and a half years ago and it is nice to have something to trigger my memory! have a nice day!

  10. If it’s just for identification purposes, I’d just use backstitch. If it’s supposed to be somewhat decorative, depending on the size of the initials, I’d probably go with stem stitch.

  11. Thank You for your help. My grand mother and I are working on Christmas pillows and reading the direction I thought to my self WHAT? Thankfully I found your site and have placed it in My favorites my 81 year old grandmother has really enjoyed doing something again to make her feel useful, Thanks again, Cindy

  12. thank you so much for doing this. i’ve been searching google for “how to embroider” for days, and this is finally helping!

  13. I am lacking words to thank you for all your effort in putting this webpage together to share such a wonderful knowledge!
    I remember the childhood years I spend doing embroidery and now that I have two girls (6 and 4) I am ready to get them to join me. You are a blessing…
    Thank you, thank you , thank you.


  14. Thank you so much for these videos on embroidery stitches. I needed a refresher course and this really helped. I’m making Hungarian Christmas hearts to hang on my Christmas tree for next year.

  15. marry this is really awesome and i like it as a beginner i would like to try it watching it from windows media player can you please tell me how can i save them.

  16. my gran and my mom were fab at embroidering. seems to have skipped me. but my daughter, 9 has been asking my mom to teach her and she finds she cant recall a few – this video library is amazing! its all coming back…..wonderful work!!!thank you so much.

  17. Thank you for the great videos. I passed your site on to several of my quilting/embroidering friends. Your site is now in my favorites!

  18. Dear Mary,

    Your site is awesome. You are a wonderful teacher, and you make it to tempting for everyone to learn embroidery. Unfortunately, I am unable to view your video. It displays the message "This video is currently not available. Please try again later." I am anxious to see your video.

    Jem Victor.

  19. Thank you so much for posting these free how to videos. My mom died a few months ago and there are still so many things I wish she had taught me. This is the next best thing.

  20. Merci mille fois pour ces vidéos !
    Quand on a plus de grand-mère qui peut aider, vos vidéos sont précieues.
    Et en plus j'améliore mon anglais !
    I'm from France, and so happy to find how to do new stiches !

  21. hi mary,
    i know you are a child of GOD. For you to take the time and money to do this for free for others.
    i am 72 and on a fixed income and wanted to teach my grand child how to do something other than play videos.

    this was a GOD sent craft, thank you, thank you,not many people in this world like you.

    Do you have dvds for sale?

    1. Hi, Ann – Thanks for your comment! I don’t have a DVD for sale at this time, but this summer, I will be launching my first one! 🙂 If all goes according to plan, that is! So do keep an eye out for it! I’m glad the videos have come in handy for you. I’m in the process of remaking the older ones, so hopefully before too long, some clearer videos will be available. Thanks again for your comment! ~MC

  22. I have done counted cross-stitch for years, but want to branch out with something different using needle and floss. With your tutorials I know that I will be able to learn all the wonderful stitches in no time. I will be buying your dvd as soon as you offer it! Thank you for a well done web site.

    1. Thanks, Susan, for the comment! I’m glad you are finding the videos useful. I’ll be replacing some of these older ones this summer, so that should help a bit. And the DVD? Well, now that you mention it, yes, it should be coming out this year!


  23. The running stich is the perfect thing that I was looking for, plus your whipped running stitch. However, what fabric do you use?

    1. Hi, Michelle – In some of the videos, I use linen, and in some, I use muslin. They’re all surface embroidery stitches, though, so they can be done on any type of fabric, really. Hope that helps! ~MC

    – JAYJAY

  25. Love it. I am new at this (age 64!). Wish I had begun earlier with my “stitching”. Thanks for all the tips. I think I have found a new hobby in my later years.

  26. amazing work, m really interested to learn hand embroidery,lucky m find ur website n Nw m goin to download n learn.thank u so much Mary,

  27. Greetings, I enjoyed seeing your running stitch video. I am getting ready to teach embroidery in a High School Art craft class and will post a link on my school blog so that my students can watch them. If you have time could you tell me what you did to video them? I would like to create some demonstration videos and think yours look and sound professional. Thank you in advance. STACEY

  28. Do you have the DVD on learning embroidery stitches yet?
    I want to teach my grand children, but I haven’t done it for quite awhile. My only way to the WEB is my not so smart phone. The only videos I can watch are with youtube. A DVD would be wonderful. What would the charge be and do you accept VISA debt cards?
    Thank you so much for your amasing web site.

  29. Hello, I just came across your website. I’m slowly trying to teach myself how to stitch. I’m hoping you can respond to this question soon because I’ll be doing an arts and crafts with a group of ladies and I still haven’t finished buying all the equipment.

    We will be stitching on felt with an embroidery hoops. I have no idea what kind of needle to buy???

    Any tips or advice would be great appreciated.

    1. Hi, Emily – you’ll want crewel needles, which are also just called embroidery needles in some shops. They have a sharp point, which works well with felt. – MC

    2. Thank You so much for your quick response!! 😀

      I don’t know if this is dumb question. But is there a certain size I get?

    3. It depends on the size of thread you use. Best thing would be to get a combo pack with different sizes, for various weights of thread.

  30. Hi Mary,

    Your Video Tutorials are really helpful for beginners like me. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. I was planning to learn it from some institutes, but now I can sit at home and learn.

  31. hola, gracias por las publicaciones, me encantaron, podrian enviarme videos a (felicitaciones en mi pais es dificil encontrar que me enseñen) 🙂

  32. I would very much like to view a lesson on how to incorporate beading with the Tamborn(sp?)tool.
    Would you be able to show me this or direct me to where I could view a tutorial?
    Thank you so much for your time and talent and for your generosity in sharing both.

  33. Sandra Liechner gave me your information saying how much she enjoyed your site. So excited to go back and read many of your blogs and watch your videos. Thank you for sharing your talent

  34. Thank you so much for your instructions. It has been many years since I have done any hand work. Daughter is getting married and wants a small stitched memorial of her father (on a piece of his denim) to sew inside her dress.
    Your videos and instructions are so helpful.

  35. In the video are you simply eyeballing how long to make each stitch and the interval between stitches, or are you counting threads (or holes in the fabric)? In this and another how-to video of yours I just watched, it isn’t obvious that you’re counting, and seemingly likely you’re not, yet the stitching is perfectly uniform–is it just practice and the development of a good eye? I’m an absolute beginner and have begun practicing a half dozen stitches on Aida cloth, and if I don’t count and carefully study where to stab and take up my needle, the result is pretty poor. Also, you seem to be using a pointed needle, and I’ve read in places that a blunt needle is better because it won’t split the fabric; does it matter which type is used?

    1. Hi, Mike! Welllll….. consistency in stitch length is mostly a matter of practice, I suppose. I don’t count spaces in surface work. The idea is that you can place stitches anywhere, in surface embroidery. You aren’t confined to the grid of the fabric. That being said, when I’m doing the videos, it’s easier for me to follow the weave of the fabric when I’m working a line stitch. And if the fabric I’m using has evenly spaced holes in it, I’m likely to use them without consciously counting them, just because it makes stitching below the camera easier!

      In any case, when you’re doing surface embroidery, you really want to use a sharp needle. There are several types for embroidery, the most common being the “crewel” needle (which is also generically called an “embroidery” needle by some manufacturers.) You can also use a chenille needle, which has a longer eye than a crewel needle. The blunt-tipped tapestry needle is ideal for counted work (like cross stitch or blackwork), because it doesn’t split fabric threads. It passes easily into the holes in the fabric’s grid formed by the weave. But in surface embroidery, you aren’t confined to a grid, and in most cases, you’re not necessarily using a fabric that has a defined grid, so you need to be able to pierce the fabric. Hence, the sharp needles.

      So, blunt tapestry needles are suitable for counted work like cross stitch and blackwork (which are sometimes done on Aida cloth), but free-style, non-counted surface embroidery is usually done with a sharp needle, like a crewel needle or chenille needle.

      Hope that helps!

  36. Lindo, tarde lo encontré, digo con respecto al año, pero nunca será demasiado tarde. muchas gracias

  37. dear mary,

    we all admire your outstanding work.
    I seek your permission to use the excellent photographs of stitches in our textbook on fashion merchendising. I am a freelancers so no money to pay. I will give reference of your post.

    best for all at your end.

    madhu raj

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