The best embroidery stitches to fill areas large and small

embroidery stitches to fill areas

In Embroidery, we have lines and areas to outline and fill. A while ago I showed you embroidery stitches for lines and letters. Today, let’s explore the options for filling areas large and small.

Choosing a stitch for the purpose of filling out a whole area is like choosing a favorite dish. There are so many options out there and still, we tend to choose the same things over and over again. And sometimes we see something new – want to try it – and either it tastes good and we eat it again some time or you gladly go back to your regular meals.

At least that is how I see it. Some stitches are just so perfect, that I tend to use it over and over again. When I see a new stitch that excites me, I try it out and either it works great and I want to use it again or it’s a total mess and I toss my hoop in the back of a box.

Here are some fill stitches I use regularly:

embroidery stitches to fill areas overview

In this sampler you can see the different embroidery stitches I like to use for filling areas. Every stitch has it’s advantages and weaknesses. There are some allrounders in there (e.g. chain stitch, seed stitch), but neither of them is THE perfect stitch for everything.

These 10 embroidery stitches do great for fillings:

  • satin stitch
  • Otomi
  • roumanian couching
  • couching
  • knots like french or colonial knot
  • seed stitch
  • long & short stitch
  • weave stitch
  • chain stitch
  • blanket stitch

Scroll down to see all tutorials to these fill stitches, what they can do and what they are not good for!

If you want to have an overview of even more embroidery stitches check out the stitch family guide and the lexicon of embroidery stitches, too.

embroidery stitches for filling areas

embroidery stitches to fill areas

SATIN STITCH

Satin stitch is used very often to fill areas, but it is not doing well with larger areas. The satin stitch is only a simple loose stitch set side by side. The longer it is the weaker it gets. It starts to wobble around and the fabric underneath shines through.

Satin stitch is perfect for small and medium-sized areas. The size it can cover depends on your materials, too. If you are using very thick thread and stiff fabric, you can do larger. If your fabric & thread is very delicate you might go smaller.

In the sampler above, I added a smaller shape inside the drop to avoid stretching the satin stitches too long.

Stitch Properties

  • very smooth surface stitch
  • works for areas of 0.5-3cm
  • adaptable to any shape
  • uses a lot of thread on the back side
satin stitch tutorial

LONG & SHORT STITCH

Long and short stitch is one of the stitches that can be used for any size or shape in embroidery. You can use it for slimer shapes like ribbons or letters and fill areas as big has you wish.

This stitch is also used for needle painting – a technique to blend in colors with each other to create the look of a gradient.

Stitch Properties

  • smooth surface stitch
  • perfect for any size
  • adaptable to any shape
  • uses a lot of thread on the back side

OTOMI

The technique of Otomi embroidery uses a very closely worked closed herringbone stitch. It is traditionally worked over a longer length than the usual herringbone stitch. Because the herringbone stitch crosses over the previous stitches it makes a very stable construction.

However, there are still limitations in length and thus Otomi is worked in multiple rows to fill very large areas. You can see in the sampler above how I filled the widest are with two rows instead of elongating the first row to the maximum.

Stitch Properties

  • smooth surface stitch
  • is worked in rows to cover very large areas
  • adaptable to any shape
  • uses a very little thread on the back side
otomi stitch tutorial

ROUMANIAN COUCHING

Roumanian Couching is basically a satin stitch that is tacked down in a certain way. You can cover larger areas than the satin stitch with this embroidery stitch.

Stitch Properties

  • smooth surface stitch
  • works best for simple shapes
  • not good for narrow areas
roumanian couching tutorial

COUCHING

For couching you’ll need two threads. One is the base thread, the second attaches the base to the fabric. Since the base thread lays on top of the fabric all the time, it’s often laid in spirals to cover larger areas.

Stitch Properties

  • smooth surface stitch
  • can cover any size
  • can be worked with two colors
  • works for any shape
  • uses very little thread on the back side
couching tutorial

CHAIN STITCH

Chain stitch is often used for lines, but due to its thickness, it is perfect for filling areas of any size, too! It can adapt to any shape and size.

Stitch Properties

  • looks like chain mail or knitted
  • can cover any size
  • adaptable to any shape
  • uses a medium amount of thread on the back side
chain stitch tutorial

BLANKET STITCH

Blanket stitch can be worked as an open or closed stitch. Depending on how much of the fabric you want to cover you can adjust the space between each stitch. This embroidery stitch works best for squares or shapes that don’t have many angles – like ovals, circles or ribbons.

In the sample, I embroidered the blanket stitch to one end, around the curve of the drop shape and worked the way back on the other side. Doing so creates a continous outline stitch around the shape.

Stitch Properties

  • creates a smooth surface when worked very closely
  • can cover any size
  • works best for squares, ovals, circles and ribbons
  • uses a medium amount of thread on the back side
blanket stitch tutorial

SEED STITCH

Seed stitch or rice stitch is a set of chaotically stitched embroidery stitches to fill out an area. You can leave them spread widely to only cover very little of the fabric or set them very close.

Stitch Properties

  • looks like scattered rice grains
  • can cover any size
  • works for any shape
  • uses a medium amount of thread on the back side
rice stitch tutorial

WEAVE STITCH

Weave stitch is a very interesting way to fill an area. It produces a woven texture and techniquallyyou can use many weaving techniques, not just the regular up and down showed in the tutorial here.

Stitch Properties

  • looks like a woven patch
  • can cover medium-sized areas
  • adapts to many shapes
  • two color option
  • uses a medium amount of thread on the back side
weave stitch tutorial

KNOTS

Knots add a lot of dimension to your embroidery. I choose the french knot and the colonial knot for the tutorial here. Both are excellent embroidery stitches to fill areas. They look quite similar. The French knot is rather like a ball sitting on the fabric while the colonial knot is sitting flatter to the ground.

Stitch Properties

  • very textured
  • can cover any size
  • adapts to every shape
  • multiple color option
  • uses a medium amount of thread on the back side
french knot tutorial
colonial knit tutorial

SUMMARY

Now, I have bombarded you with 10 different embroidery stitches for filling areas. Which one works best for your project? That is for you to decide. To make things easier, you’ll find a list below that says which stitches work great for which purpose.

Also, you can find many more embroidery stitches in the lexicon of embroidery stitches here on Pumora.

Covers any size

  • seed stitch
  • couching
  • chain stitch
  • knots
  • Otomi worked in rows
  • long & short stitch

For medium-sized areas

  • satin stitch
  • long & short stitch
  • weave stitch
  • roumanian couching

Textured

  • seed stitch
  • knots
  • chain stitch
  • couching
  • weave stitch

Color options

  • knots
  • couching
  • weave stitch
  • seed stitch
embroidery stitches to fill areas

Comments

  1. connie burns: May 22, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    I am left handed……i have embroidered for years…but….only the basic stitches….i would like to see much more on stitches for us lefties!
    Thank you…

  2. Veronica Freimuth: May 13, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks, I appreciate your ideas on embroidery. I t so relaxing to do. The tutorial and photos will help.

  3. Thank you for the lovely tutorial. Great photos fohndso e new to me ideas I will use in a current project.

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