Inside: How to use a split stitch and why you should learn this technique.

Split stitches are one of the most traditional, commonly used, and easiest stitches that you can use in embroidery besides your standard stitch. It’s such a simple way to add dimension and technique to your patterns, without going over the top right off the bat!

If this is your first stitch (aside from the standard) to learn while learning embroidery, it’s going to be so easy, and you’re going to love the look of something new! It doesn’t take any extra steps, only difference is how the stitch is placed.

Doing something new and different with your stitches is going to make you fall even more in love with embroidery as you learn the craft even deeper, and you’re going to love the outcome of the projects.

Neutral boho butterfly embroidery made with Split Stictch

I’m here to answer your questions, do a dive in on the stitch, and show you some examples of how it would look in a full project!

Let’s go.

What Is The Split Stitch?

What is a split stitch? Simple! It’s a normal embroidery stitch using normal lengths and distances, but the only difference is when you come back up under the fabric with your needle, you come back up 2/3 of the way into the previous stitch and you split the thread.

It’s a more connected and chain looking stitch and it has fullness without being an actual chain stitch!

If you’re looking for a stitch that looks similar to a chain, rope, or a braid, this is the simplest way to achieve it.

I personally love using this stitch to add texture where there normally wouldn’t be in a normal stitch. Texture is one of my favorite design elements when it comes to any medium, so I love to see it play out in embroidery as well.

Not every pattern requires elaborate stitching, and sometimes adding to it with details can take away from the image.
So this is an easy way to achieve an elevated version of your design without doing too much.

An embroidery hoop

How To

To begin practicing the split stage, go ahead and draw a straight line on your embroidery fabric. Start from the left end of the line like normal and do a regular stitch length forward.

Come back up two thirds of the way of the first stitch and split the thread while coming up. Then continue forward another regular stitch lengths along the line, and repeat.

This stitch is so easy, that’s literally all it takes!

The name pretty much says it all– normal lengths and patterns but simply splitting the previous stitch. Done.

Why Use The Split Stitch

While some patterns may call for it, there is not necessarily a specific use for the split stitch. It simply just adds to your normal stitch patterns. Again, texture and fullness in your pattern is the big win here!

It’s very similar to that of the chain stitch, which is made by creating loops and going through them with the next stitch. The chain stitch creates a thicker and fuller line, which can be helpful and used when you are filling in an image, but you don’t always need the wider line.

That’s where the split stitch comes into play.

It looks braided without taking up all the space of a braid. It’s a more subtle look, and I know you will love the outcome as much as I do.

If you’re new to embroidery don’t let new ideas and techniques scare you, give it a try! Maybe even try your next pattern poly and split stitch and see how easy it can be

If you’re ready to try something new I love the split stitch so let’s dive into it!

Split Stitch Vs. Chain Stitch

I’ve previously touched on the chain stitch and how it is similar to that of the split stitch, but let’s look into it a little further as you start to learn these new stitches.

The chain stitch is a little bit of a more tedious process. As I mentioned you use loops from the previous stitch to create the chain effect. When pulling the thread through, you have to be sure to not pull the thread all the way through. This is where the loop is created then when you pull the needle back up to the top, you place the needle in the loop. When closing the loop, that creates the chain effect and then you continue.

Essentially you’re creating the same look, but the chain has three threads packed into each stitch area while the split is two threads creating that look. It’s less bulky, is more subtle, and still looks fairly simple while still adding an elevated look.

The chain stitch and the split stitch are not too different, so if you’re debating which one to use on a pattern it’s a creative choice!

If you need something more subtle go with the split, if you want something a little bolder yet still simple, the chain stitch is the way to go. You can use creative discernment here for your own design!

Starry night embroidery split stitch design

Split Stitch Embroidery Design

We can talk through these techniques, ideas, and aesthetics all we want, but if you really want to know if this is a stitch for you, you have to see it in action.

I’ve collected some ideas for you to look through and see if you like the way this looks in order to get a feel for how it actually looks when used on a project.

Check out the split stitch embroidery designs and get inspired to try it today!

1. Tree Branches
2. Lettering
3. Line Stitching
4. Florals


Most patterns you complete are going to call for something really specific to give texture that is relevant to the subject in the pattern like leaves, flowers, fur… You name it!

I’ve collected some patterns that I think could be really cool if you used the split stitch for an outline, a branch, whatever you want it to be, these are all designs I think that would simply be elevated but do not require the split stitch.

5. Moon And Lavender
6. Tote Bag
7. Starry Night

Learning new stitches doesn’t have to be scary! Whether you’ve been at this for a long time or you’re so fairly new, the stitches will always become second nature, and the more you practice the less you’ll have to think about it.

Learning new stitches is great for your creative development in your new craft, because it helps you take your art to the next level and helps you to see where you can do something a little differently than the pattern calls for.

Understanding all the different stitch types and techniques will grow your artistic vision, and I think you’ll love the results. I know I do! I can’t wait to see what you create.

I have some more technical posts for you to dig through if you haven’t already! If you have questions about backing and which to use, check it out here.