Embroidery Fundamentals: How to Do Split Stitch

Looking for an easy decorative stitch that's perfect for outlining? Look no further. Split stitch is a great option, and looks like a tiny chain stitch...

What You'll Be Creating

Looking for an easy decorative stitch that's perfect for outlining? Look no further. Split stitch is a great option, and looks like a tiny chain stitch without all the effort!


  • Muslin fabric (about 15cm square)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • 6 strand embroidery thread (floss)
  • Embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery transfer pen (optional)

1. Prepare Your Fabric for Stitching

Step 1

Trace a line or pattern onto your fabric with an embroidery transfer pen.

If you are just starting out and practicing, you can also draw some curved lines, circles, and other shapes. Split stitch is a great stitch for outlining because it goes around curves just as easily as straight lines.

Step 2

Secure your fabric into your embroidery hoop.

Make sure all wrinkles are smoothed out, and tighten the hoop to secure it before stitching.

2. Stitch Your Line

Step 1

Thread your needle with six strand embroidery floss.

To do split stitch, you need to be able to "split" your stitch not only lengthwise, but also by width. While there are various types of thread to stitch with, six strand embroidery floss is perfect for split stitch, as the strands all separate easily and you can get three strands on each side of your needle.

Step 2

Begin your stitch.

I like to work split stitch very similarly to backstitch. I start my first stitch by coming up with my needle from back to front, about one stitch length from the end of my pattern line.

Step 3

Complete your first stitch by passing the needle and floss back through the end point of your drawn line.

Step 4

Split your first stitch with your second stitch.

All stitches in split stitch are about the same length, so to make your second stitch you will come back up through your fabric about a half stitch length in front of your first stitch. Then stitch back to the center of your first stitch, splitting the floss in half by width as you do so (three strands on each side of the needle as it passes through).  

Step 5

Continue stitching down the line.

Each stitch will split the previous stitch in half by both length and width. As you continue, you will notice that it looks like a tiny chain stitch or braid, but is much more delicate.

If you are looking to make a very fine line, but still want it to be more decorative than a plain backstitch, you can thread you needle with only two or four strands of floss. Just make sure to keep an even number of strands so they split evenly while stitching.

Step 6

Finish the back of your work once you reach the end of your line.

Weave in the ends of your floss to your stitching or tie a small knot.

Keep Practicing

Congratulations on completing your first split stitch! Now keep going, practicing on different shapes until you're confident and ready for your first project. 

Have a look at the embroidery projects and patterns on Tuts+ and put your new stitch into practice!
Are you new to embroidery? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments space below. 
Source: crafts.tutsplus.com