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A Step By Step Guide To Stem Stitch Applique

Summary

Stem stitch is a wonderful means to add texture and dimension to fabrics like wool that otherwise may be just a little flat. Here is a step-by-step guide.

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A Step By Step Guide To Stem Stitch Applique

Stem stitch is a wonderful means to add texture and dimension to fabrics like wool that otherwise may be just a little flat. This simple technique combined with variegated thread like perle cotton will kick your projects up a notch without adding too much labor or expense.

A Step By Step Guide To Stem Stitch Applique

 

Starting Point for Stem Stitch

A solid color leaf without stitching can be quite boring, but with just a simple stitch you can make it have character and dimension.

Plain Leaf

 

Start by making a quilters knot in the end of your perle cotton. Coming from the backside of your leaf, place your needle through the leaf as close to the edge as possible. From there, you will take a stitch as shown that is just a little larger than 1/8” long.

First Stem Stitch

 

Your second stitch will be taken approximately 1/8” beyond the right edge of the first stitch as shown in the photo.

Second Stem Stitch

 

When you have completed the last stitch for the center vein of the leaf, take a final stitch through to the backside of the leaf.

Continue Stem Stitching At the End

 

Making The Wrong Side of Your Stem Stitch As Nice As The Right

On the backside of your leaf, you should see what appear to be short running stitches as shown in the first picture. To keep the wrong side of your leaf looking just as finished as the right side, it is best to lace your thread through the stitches in an “S” pattern as shown.

Back Side of Stem Stitch Lacing Stem Stitch

 

When you get up to the area where you will want to add “veining” coming out from the center row of stitching, bring your needle through to the front side of the leaf and resume stitching as before. When you reach the outer edge of the leaf, place your needle through to the backside and lace the thread through the stitch as you did previously until you reach the center vein and return to the front side where you may continue stem stitching.

Adding Additional Veins

 

When you have completed the stem stitching on your leaf, finish the outer edges with a blanket stitch as shown in the picture.

Finish With Blanket Stitch

 

Example of Stem Stitching

Your stem stitching will add a lot of dimension to your applique pieces as well as texture.

Stem Stitch Texture

 

Stem Stitching Key – Small Stitches

In order to keep your stem stitches nice and smooth looking, especially on curved areas, it is necessary to take small stitches. If longer stitches are taken you will get a “jagged” stitch that looks like the one you see here. So make those nice small stitches and enjoy a beautiful embellishment on your applique.

Too Large Stitches

 

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Glossary

Applique
Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Appliqué


See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique
Embellishment
Decorative stitches or items that are added to a quilt, including buttons, beads, charms, or embroidery or other thread.
Notch
A small V shape that is clipped out of a seam allowance to make a curve shape flat when the seams are joined.
Stem Stitch
A stitch that works from left to right and is often used for flowers, outlining or filling.
Variegated Thread
Thread in which the color changes down the strand.
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