Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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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Satin Stitch Video Tutorial


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Of all the hand embroidery stitches that exist, I think the most beautiful, when done well, is the satin stitch. I love this stitch! It does take a little practice to get the hang of satin stitching, and it is true that it is not a very “forgiving” stitch.

But perhaps this adds somewhat to its beauty – because we not only admire it for the pleasure it gives us when we see beautifully worked satin stitch, but, when we know what goes into it, we can truly appreciate the “art” behind the embroidery.

Don’t let this deter you if you are a beginner! In concept, satin stitch is very easy. It just takes a little practice to get the edges right and to gauge the distance between your stitches.

If you aren’t familiar with what satin stitch looks like, you’ll find some close-ups of a piece that is worked entirely in satin stitch and stem stitch here.

The following video tutorial is for the padded satin stitch, to be precise. However, the same concepts work with non-padded satin stitching. The tutorial is rather long (almost 8 minutes). I filmed it in stages, from outlining, to padding, to satin stitching. I hope you find it helpful!

For more video tutorials, please visit my collection of how-to videos for hand embroidery here on Needle ‘n Thread.

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(97) Comments

  1. Hi – You should use a crewel needle or “embroidery” needle (which is a generic name for a crewel needle). Basically, it’s a sharp with a longer eye. The size needle you use depends on the thread you’re using. If you’re using a very fine thread (like one strand of DMC) a size 9 or 10 crewel works great.

  2. Thank you for posting this video! I’ve just become interested in embroidering in order to recreate the look of a period shawl. You’ve provided many helpful insights.

  3. pls teach me outline, bullion, satin, scallops, lock herring close herring, and threaded stitch pls help me this my project!!!!!!!!!!!i m 15 year old girld pls ill visit this site everyday if i can see the video tutorial of my request`s stitches!thank you!i dont have money to pay….

  4. Hi
    I like the satin stitch. I was looking at the Brazilian leaf stitch which looks a little different. Some of it looks like it is raised. Can you explain.

  5. Greetings! I just love your site! I’ve just picked up needle and floss again for the first time since I was a young girl and am thoroughly enjoying myself. I spend part of every day lately, pouring over the information you’ve compiled and shared here. Thank you so much for all your efforts! After watching your video lessons I’ve been trying to figure out what thread it is you’re using that is nondivisable. What I hear you saying in this clip is “cotton ebroder”. Am I hearing and spelling that wrong? I’ve been trying to do internet searches to find a source for this nondivisable embroidery thread but am having no luck at all! Thanks very much for your time! J.Mosley

  6. Hi, J. Mosley –

    Glad you’re picking up your needle ‘n thread again!

    It’s “coton a broder” – you can find it through Lacis (and other fine needlework shops online – but I order mine from Lacis)


  7. Mary,

    Great work on the vids! It gives me much more variety than before when stitching and it can’t be more enjoyable. A few table runners which I’m working on right now call for ‘shadow stitch’, which I’ve not done before and internet searches proved futile. Is there any chance that you might include ‘shadow stitch’ as your new addition in your tutorials? I’d be most delighted if you can teach me this stitch.

  8. Hi, Josephine –

    Glad you like the videos!

    I believe shadow stitch is simply a closed herringbone stitch worked on the back side of the fabric, so that, on the front, you have two edges of what looks like backstitch, with the shadow of the herringbone stitch between the two edges just visible.

    You may want to try that to see if that’s what they’re talking about!

    Hope that helps!


  9. Newbie here! I didn’t even know what a satin stitch was until I watched your video. Your video has really helped me out! I am very excited to start some new projects now. THANKS!!

  10. I’ve been doing hand embroidery for years. I’ve even won an award or two for my work. But until today, I did not know how to really do satin stitch properly. In fact, I avoided it because I couldn’t ever get it to look right. Now, finally, I know why! Goes to show, you’re never to old to learn. Thank you so much for these wonderful videos… please, don’t disappear, ever! I’ve so much more to learn!

  11. Hi,
    This tutorial is brilliant. I knew how to do satin stitch (learned from my grandma a long time ago!) but I didn’t know how to pad/raise it. Just a quick question. Do you know how Turkish embroiderers do their type of satin stitch. It looks like it is done in adjacent stripes (of the same colour) so they can then fill large areas, but it also could be a couching technique. Have you any idea? I want to learn to do it. It looks great.

  12. Hello, I’ve been searching for embroidery stitches for the past few days, and for my good sake of luck I found this one which I now consider the BEST!. Your videos are very understandable, I you are very kind and thoughtful to have done this website in this way! Thank You!

  13. I just love your site. It is wonderful. Relly encouraging. You are doing a lot of good work. – Meenakshi

  14. Thank you so very much for this video library of stiches!! I have dreamed of learning how to emroider for years. I got the yarn, the needles, the fabrics, but never seemed to quite understand the direstions in the books I bought. So I thank you from my heart for taking the time to help new beginners like me, with big dreams and little experience.
    One thing that might be an idea for us newbies, is how to show the best way to secure the thread with a knot at the beginning and end.. that is something I struggle with, at least.
    Have a beautiful day and thanks again!

  15. Hi, Mary.
    The satin stitch video won’t show up on my screen. Do you have any idea what to do? I really need this video as I am using it in my Junior Cert. Do you have any tips on how to fix it? Thanks!!
    From, Jenny!!

  16. Hi, Jenny –

    The only thing I can suggest is visiting the Google Video Help Center, to look at what they say for solving playback issues.

    Here’s the link:


    I tested the video – it plays, but it required some time for buffering. Since I have a fast internet connection, I’m assuming that Google must be having some problems.

    Anyway, if you’ve had luck viewing the videos on here before, you might try hitting play a couple times, and making sure it’s buffering. If you haven’t been able to view the videos on your computer, then it’s probably a playback issue that you can figure out from the Google Video Help Center.

  17. Hi,

    Your site has been incredibly helpful! I’m doing a blanket for son to be and your site has been very helpful for the stiches I haven’t done before. Thank You

  18. You know, it’s thanks to dedicated and creative people like you who post your knowledge on the web that makes the internet so valuable. Thank you so much for your time and dedication!

  19. This video fabulous for what I needed to accomplish this evening. Well done in the edits to take the viewer from stage to stage. The commentary was incredibly well-done, as well. Thank you!

  20. Thank you for taking the time to film this! I have always avoiding using satin stitch because I could never get it to look smooth and even. I recently decided to start a “stained-glass” looking piece and thought it would be a good exercise to learn (finally) how to do satin stitch well.
    I’m bookmarking your movie onto my iPhone so I can refer to it when I’m stitching.
    Thanks again,

  21. Thank you so much for your video. I’m relatively new to embroidery and wanted to make some satin stitched monogrammed hankies for a bridal shower. I thought it would be too hard but your video gives me confidence!!

  22. Hi, I enjoy your video and info a lot. I am a visual artist, but a very novice of embroidery. I wonder if the satin stitches can only cover small aera of the design. What kind of stitches can cover large area, but it will have the same padding effect? Please let me know. (I am using embroidery on plastic tarps for my projects.) Thank you.

  23. thank you so much! I just started embroidery today and decided to start something with satin stitch, because, well, that was the pattern I wanted. This helped me immensely, especially the tip of outlining.
    Your work is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing!

  24. Hi, Mary! I have stayed away from doing much embroidery because of a few stitches, including satin stitch, which are called for often. My satin stitch always seemed rough. Thanks to your clear explanations, i now know why–i’d never done an outlined, padded satin stitch. That makes all the difference! I looked at the video in order to make a very special anniversary embroidery, and now it looks wonderful. I am very grateful to you for finally learning this stitch. Best wishes to you – Suzanne

  25. Hello Mary!

    Thank you for this informational video. I have the same question as Sue Ann…

    What kind of stitch can be used to get the padded effect of the satin stitch but cover a large area? How big of an area is too big for the satin stitch? I’m embroidering a backpack for my daughter.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi, Trista – For a very large area that you want filled, I’d use long and short stitch for the filling. If you’re not changing colors, it’s super easy, because the stitch is very forgiving. I’d not go more than about an inch on satin stitch, unless you are couching another thread over the top of it (like the lattice filling video shows). Satin stitches that are too long can fall out of shape easily, or snag on things (especially on something like a backpack). Some other choices are bokhara and roumanian couching – they’re are videos for both of them. They tend to define a pattern in the fill area, but the pattern is subtle, since it’s all done with the same color of thread.

      I hope that helps!


  26. cool! thanks for the tutorial. One question, will this work if you don’t do padding stitch? I’m doing the letter A for my sewing assignment and I don’t I’ll have enough time to do padded stitch :S

    Thanks in advance

  27. Hi, your videos are very clear! is there any way we could see a finished product with the specific stitches in each video? It would be helpful to see how you’ve combined different stitches, and what you use them for. for example, will this leaf be a part of a flower that may be done in a different stitch?

    1. Hi, Holly – I start in the middle to set the stitch direction. I helps keep the whole piece even and helps avoid shifting the stitch direction. Hope that helps! ~MC

  28. I love your videos , thank you very much for your videos . Q-this padded satin stitch is used in mountmellick embroidery?

    1. Yes, it is! In any type of embroidery, actually, that requires satin stitching – and the padding is what raises it a bit. You can do the stitch without padding, but it will be flatter, and often the edges don’t turn out as well. Hope that helps! ~MC

    1. Hi, Kandeel – Yes, you can do this without padding! Padding helps the stitched area stand up a bit from the fabric, and it also helps your threads on top lie straighter, but it isn’t always necessary, especially for small spaces.


  29. Ms. Mary,
    Good morning! Thank you for posting this tutorial. You are one of the very few right-handed stitchers who can explain things in a way that makes sense to (strongly left-handed, self-taught) me. I also appreciate that you explain the reason why something should be performed in a specific manner. I learned that I was not getting the result that I wanted because I did not know to first do the outline stitch.

  30. I bookmarked your site two years ago when I started making ren faire costumes and baby blankets for friends. Two years later, I still find myself coming back for reminders and the more elaborate stitches for more elaborate pieces. Your site is my very favorite for embroidery techniques and tips. You make this novice look like a pro! Thank you!


  31. Hi Mary,

    I’m new to all this but the videos have been extremely helpful! I wanted to use satin stitch to monogram the letter “P” but after watching this I’m wondering which “middle point” to start from. Would you just consider the straight bar of the P and the curved section as two separate areas to fill? Thanks for all the wonderful advice!


    1. Hi, Alyssa –

      Yes, I would consider them two separate areas, unless they just flow together somehow (esp. if it is a rounded P, without sharp corners anywhere). It depends on the letter itself. If the P is rounded and it is all in one continuous line, I’d probably start in the middle of the straight bar on the left, and then slant my stitches in such a way to take the curve into the top of the P gracefully.

      Hope that helps!


  32. If you aren’t going to do the padding, do you do the outline? I am going to be using some of your flowered monograms for a Christmas gift (specifically M, T, and P) and I am also rather at a loss as to were to difine the “middle” to start at. Thanks so much!

  33. Can someone tell me how to do a double running stitch that is then overcast with small satin stitches? Is it a running stitch side by side, or are they staggered. Is the satin stitch an overcast on top of the fabric or is it over all the layers thru the fabric. I am outlining a butterflies wing in white silk on white batiste. I am new at this and am trying the free Butterfly Needle Case from Trish Burr’s website.

    1. Hi, Nancy – Most overcast stitching does pass over the line stitches beneath, and then picks up just a tiny bit of the fabric underneath the line stitches. I’d work two lines of running stitches – the one line first, and then the next line right next to it. I don’t think you have to be too concerned about staggering them perfectly, or lining them up perfectly. If both lines of stitches, though, line up exactly at the start and stop of each stitch, you could possibly end up with a small “dent” in your overcast stitch, where the running stitches begin and end. So maybe slight staggering, but I wouldn’t necessarily be too concerned that the staggering be absolutely perfect. I’m pretty sure Trish wouldn’t mind answering your question, too, if you e-mailed her directly (she has contact info on her website). I’ve not worked the kit or looked at the directions, so I’m just assuming that’s how the padding is done for the overcast stitch. Hope that helps a bit! ~MC

    1. Hi, Audrey – yes, you can. The edge of your satin stitches will sit flatter to the surface of the fabric, and it might be more difficult to get a smooth edge if you don’t at least outline the element and then satin stitch over the outline. But if you’re looking for a very flat satin stitch, yes, you can certainly skip the outline and the padding! ~MC

  34. I’m back again, this time with a question. ^_^

    Any advice for using metallic threads? I’ve been working on a project that requests a satin stitched anvil, but the metallic thread looks horrible. It unravels, beads, and just doesn’t look right. Is there another metallic thread I should use specifically, or is satin stitch with metallic threads just not advisable? Thanks for your help. I love this site, and shared it with my aunt and mother.

    1. Hi, Meagan – you might have more luck couching metallic threads than actually satin stitching with them. The more they pass through the fabric, the more they fall apart. Why not try couching the thread in rows, instead? That may help! Glad you enjoy Needle ‘n Thread – thank you! ~MC

    2. I hadn’t thought of that! I’ve always used couching for much heavier threads, but I bet it will work. Thank you!

  35. i find your tutorial videos soooo helpful, as i am just a beginner embroiderer, but i have trouble pulling up the video for satin stitch. can you help me, or else perhaps another reference videoo or website.

  36. I need to fill a block letter (greatest width is 1″ (on the NW corner of the “N”)–the rest of the letter is 3/4″.

    Would satin stitch work here? If not, what would you recommend?

    1. Hi, Janice – yes, you could do it, but that would be about the limit in length, I think. I’d definitely pad underneath to give the longer stitches some friction to keep them in place. -MC

    1. Hi, Trish – it works on this end. If you’re trying to view it on a tablet, it probably won’t work. I’ll be replacing the video with an updated version in the next week or so – this one is particularly outdated! MC

  37. Help! I need to cover large areas and thought I could use satin stitch. Also, I see that you speak of Klosterstitch, but can find no information about it anywhere!

  38. Thank you for your wonderful tutorials and website! They are informative and interesting, and I always learn something new, or am reminded of something I’ve forgotten. Your work is truly lovely, and reminds me why I love needlework; it is both structured and creative.

  39. Hi.i need to know can the cotton embroidery floss for satin stitch?
    And how many strands of thread can be used for perfect filling in satin?

  40. How large of an area can be filled with a satin stitch? I want to do a script, but I’m afraid it’s too large for a satin stitch.

    1. Well, it depends on the script and how wide it is, plus whether or not you are padding underneath the satin stitches. As a rule of thumb, I don’t go over 1/2″ with satin stitch, unless the area is super padded, and I’m using a good, firm thread in a solid ground fabric – and then, I might go even as far as an inch.

  41. Hi! Thank you so much for your prompt response! I am working on a baby quilt and I’ve never embroidered before but you are an inspiration. I chose a script that I like and I want to satin stitch it (it’s less than 1/4″ wide in the wide parts so as per your advice, I’m good). But my next question is where do I start on the letter? Is it better to start in the middle like your video? Or better to start on the ends. I will use a stabilizer as I think I’ll need it w/ the fabric that’s chosen.

  42. Gorgeous! Thanks! I was trying to describe the angle of the needle to a friend without getting out some thread and fabric to show it, and this was exactly what I needed to send over. 😀

  43. Thank you so very much for the videos and this great website! I’m doing embroidery for the first time,with a pattern anyway, and just the paper describing how to do the various stitches isn’t clear enough for me to do such! Merry Christmas!

  44. Thank you for all the information you pass on, it is so well done and made easy for the beginner. I so appreciate your generosity.

  45. Even though I was already familiar with the stitch, I found the video so hopeful I made notes. It’s a cheat sheet for me to use when it’s been a while between projects.

    Just in case others would like a cheat sheet based on the video:

    Small areas

    Outline with backstitch
    Outline and padding one or 2 threads
    Satin stitch one thread smoother finish
    Long straight stitches perpendicular to satin stitch (padding)
    Satin stitch outside outline
    Start in middle working to one side
    Parallel next to each other
    Right next to each other without buckling on top
    Not on top of each and not able to see between them
    Padding stands it up, can do without padding to make it flatter

    1. It really depends on what kind of padding is underneath the satin stitch. If you’ve padded the satin stitch heavily, then you can get away with a slightly larger area of satin stitching, but normally, I’d say an inch would be pushing the boundaries of length for most satin stitching (and less than an inch, if there’s no padding). Otherwise, if your satin stitches are too long, over time, they tend not to look as nice. They can lose their tension due to all kinds of things – use, environment, etc. – and if they get a little limp, they won’t lie parallel and they may gap.

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