How to stitch: Seeding stitch

I think seeding stitch can be a bit overlooked. I certainly didn’t pay it much attention for quite a while. But actually, it’s a pretty useful filling stitch. Especially when you want to fill an area quickly.

In its simplest form, seeding stitch is a scattering of small straight stitches that fill an area. However, there are plenty of other possibilities, you can let your imagination run wild!

How to stitch

Since your stitching area won’t be fully covered with stitches, you’ll want to start and finish your thread in a nearby area that will be covered.

Work your first stitch as a small straight stitch. The exact size will depend on the thread you are using and the effect you want. With crewel wool or 2/3 strands of stranded cotton, I’ll typically work stitches that are 2-3mm.

Work your second stitch nearby, keeping your stitch size the same but changing the angle of your stitch.

3 images showing the build up of stitches to create seeding stitch, from 2 stitches to a filled area.

Keep working stitches that are the same size while continually varying the angle of your stitches. To get the best effect, you want the angle and placement of your stitches to appear random.

This can be easier said than done! In practice, you don’t need to have absolutely every stitch at a different angle. So long as you don’t start seeing a regular pattern you should be fine.

Seeding stitch variations

While seeding stitch is commonly stitched with short straight stitches, you don’t have to restrict yourself to this.

You could use pretty much any individual stitch or shape you fancy. How about French knots, lazy daisy stitch or little triangles…

Photo showing 4 types of seeding stitch. At the top straight stitches are used, then French knots, then lazy daisy stitch and finally small triangles.
From top to bottom: straight stitches, French knots, lazy daisy stitch, triangles.

Another variation that I learnt during my Bacton altar cloth motif class is to work a “double seeding” stitch. This is simply working over your stitches a second time to give them more depth.

While seeding stitch is great for covering a large area in a flat colour, you’re by no means limited to that. You can also create shading with seeding stitch by changing colours or changing the density of your stitches.

You could even combine different colours and stitch densities for more dramatic effects.

A blue embroidered circle that has been shaded using seeding stitch to look like a 3D sphere.
The shading for this sphere has been created by using 3 different shades of blue and varying the density of the stitches.

I hope this tutorial has inspired you to give seeding stitch a go and to experiment with some different effects. Check out my other tutorials here and let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to cover!

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