Easy Embroidery! Lesson 3 (Split stitch)

So, this is the last of THREE FREE lessons of my online beginners’ course Easy Embroidery! that I’ve shared with you over the last few weeks. Hopefully by now you have mastered running and stem stitch because you are about to nail split stitch too! Check out the film and course notes below and if you love what you have tried pick up Easy Embroidery! HERE. You get a total of 12 lessons along with access to the exclusive Facebook group which is packed with course extras, help, inspirations and the most supportive community you can imagine, all for just £45.

First though, split stitch. Fancy a bash?

Check out my film that shows you how to do split stitch, above. You can also find the following handy info in the documents of the exclusive Easy Embroidery! Facebook group when you join.

  • How to build up your course confidence.
  • How to start and finish a line of stitches.

How to do split stitch

Top tip! Use stranded thread for this stitch (thread that splits into six strands rather than being one tightly woven thread) because it’s easier to split. Luckily, stranded thread is what you find in all haberdasheries. Also remember to make all of the stitches the same length.

You know by now to make your fabric clean and taut in your embroidery hoop. It’ll make stitching easier and more accurate. Choose your thread and load up your needle and…

Decide on the size of your stitch but don’t make it longer than a centimetre at this stage and take your needle back down through the fabric accordingly. For now, make the stitch straight as you would with running stitch.

Working in whichever direction feels comfy to you, bring your needle up from the back of the fabric where you want the line of stitches to start.

Bring your thread back up through the fabric but this time the needle should come up bang in the middle of the first stitch, spliting it. Ideally there’ll be three threads either side of where it has been split but don’t fret about that too much, as long as it looks even. You’ll get there with practice.

Then take the needle back down through the fabric, making a stitch that’s the same length as the one before. Next time you come up through the fabric, split the stitch again and on you go until you get to the end of your line of stitches. And guess what? You have done split stitch! See? I said it wouldn’t hurt!

Practice notes

Write on a piece of fabric the one social change you want to see. It could simply read ‘save women’s rights’, ‘end homelessness’ or ‘reduce plastic’. Then follow those marks with your split stitch. Change the length of the stitch to see how that impacts on your work.

Question: what do you notice about how the stitch looks? Does it look neater when it is smaller? Do the larger stitches look a little less ‘controlled’? How accurate is your work in smaller or larger stitches? And, as you go along, how much quicker are you at accurately putting the needle through the centre of each stitch?

Extra fun!

  1. Make four parallel lines of split stitch, but each one in a different colour or shade of thread. Does one colour make the split more obvious that the others? Does one hide it better than the others?
  • Draw a solid shape on your fabric – a square or a heart, for example. Fill it in with split stitch. Keeping the stitches neat and horizontal, split stitch across your shape until you get to the end and then start the next row immediately underneath it. Keep going until it is filled in. See if you’ve changed the size of your stitches to make them more even in length.

Mess it up!

Make each split stitch a different size to give you an idea of how to create tighter or looser stitches. Alternate between large and small stitches too to see how this creates a completely different effect. Then create chaos by stitching anything you like in a mix of running, stem and split stitches. Don’t just do a line of each either. Instead start with a running stitch, turn it into a stem stitch before morphing it into a split stitch. It’ll make you think on your feet and loosen up your stitchy terrors.

Lesson challenge

Sketch the sunshine on a piece of fabric, with rays coming out of it (y’know, the kind a child would draw). Outline then fill in the body of the sun with split stitch and then use it to create the rays. If you have enough threads, alternate the rays with reds, oranges and yellows. Aim to create a perfectly neat sunshine.

Don’t forget to check out my previous two free lessons which are on my website now. You can find out loads more about the Easy Embroidery! online course here and here and are welcome to message me here if you have any questions.