Embroidery: Running Stitch

running stitch embroidery stitch

Embroidery: Running Stitch

The Running Stitch is the simplest and quickest of all embroidery stitches and is used for simple lines and outlines. So many stitches use the running stitch as the basis, like the Whipped Running Stitch, Double Running Stitch and Laced Running Stitch. As it name implies, the needle runs in and out of the material at regular intervals.

The Running Stitch is used as an outline or as a filling with rows of parallel or staggered stitches to create texture for almost any kind of embroidery stitching — crazy quilting, art quilts, sewing garments, crafts, or as a reinforcement for cutwork. It is worked from right to left, making small even stitches, while working the needle above and below the fabric. It is considered a stitch in the flat stitch family.

You can’t beat the Running Stitch for fast and easy embroidery outlines! It’s a great way to define your spaces so that you can fill in with other stitches. Or – stitch a line design completely in running stitch! Vary the appearance of your stitched lines by changing thread and stitch spacing. The running stitch is probably the first one to learn, and the one you’ll use the most!

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Run Don't Walk Running Stitch

This one is so easy! Needle in, needle out, repeat. Hemma Design has more illustrations and instructions.


This cute floral design takes smaller “bites” between stitches to make the lines appear a little more solid. Kate & Rose show you how.

Run Don't Walk Running Stitch


There are two methods to achieve a Running Stitch – you can do a “stab stitch” or you can load a few stitches onto your needle. Each method has its proponents – I use both, depending on my choice of line, fabric and thread. This brief video tutorial from Crafty Gemini shows you both!


For the samples below, I used Sulky 12 wt. thread doubled, in a variegated color.

Pull your thread up where you want to start and try to take even stitches, which means the same length of your thread on top and under the fabric. I worked on trying to get my stitches even — I need more practice!

I started at the edge of my 4″ square and wove my needle up and down, trying to make even stitches.

Embroidery: Running Stitch

This is random stitching across the 4″ sampler area. I’m pretty happy with it and like the background fill that is made with the variegated threads. Next, I think I might try some variations on the running stitch.

Embroidery: Running Stitch

Below is another sampler for the running stitch using different threads.

Row 1: Pearl cotton size 12

Row 2: Pearl cotton size 8

Row 3: Pearl cotton size 5

Row 4: Pearl cotton variegated color size 3

Row 5: Silk ribbon

Row 6: Rayon cord

running stitch


Check out all of the embroidery projects on Create Whimsy!

See my favorite 10 Easy Embroidery Stitches to Embellish Your Projects.








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