February 13, 2023

Embroidery Stitch Tutorial: How to do the Split Stitch

By Tatum Schumann
pink apron with wildflower embroidery

The split stitch closely resembles a small chain stitch, despite being in different families.

However, if you look closely, you'll see the split stitch is actually much narrower and flatter compared to the chain stitch. The split stitch is actually related to the back stitch as it begins with a straight stitch, and is then worked in a back and forth motion. If you flip the fabric over where you have a finished split stitch, you'll also notice the backside will have a back stitch pattern!

Something I find interesting about the split stitch is how far back it dates. This stitch was commonly used with a single strand of silk thread for delicate works during medieval times. It seems the split stitch was a foundational stitch used to add an elegant touch to their intricate designs, which still rings true today.

embroidery hoop with rainboots and wildflowers next to scissors and thread

Just as the name implies, the split stitch is created by splitting the previous stitch! 

The split stitch is another great outline stitch, like the back stitch and stem stitch, and it's especially helpful when working with small curves. You can also use closely-packed rows of the split stitch for delicate filling. To change up the fine look of the split stitch, you can experiment with different strand thicknesses by using more strands or thicker thread, such as wool. 

Instructions: How to do the Split Stitch

For the split stitch, I generally use 2 strands of thread for a more refined look, but feel free to increase the amount you use to create a more bold design! If you decide to use more than 2 threads, I recommend sticking to an even number since you'll be splitting them in half later.

Step 1: Bring your needle up through the fabric at the end of the line and make one stitch going forward. Pull the thread all the way through to the back of the fabric.  

This is otherwise known as the straight stitch. You can read more about the straight stitch in my blog post HERE.  
stitching the split stitch

Step 2: Skip over and bring your needle up one stitch length away from the end of the first stitch.  

continuing to stitch the split stitch

Step 3: Take your needle down in the middle of the first stitch. This splits the stitch.

almost finished split stitch

Keep repeating steps 2-3 until you reach the end of the line. 

finished split stitch

This stitch is worked similarly to the back stitch

The main difference is instead of bringing your needle down at the end of the previous stitch, you're splitting it! This is the back stitch method; however, you can also work this stitch by coming up through the previous stitch and splitting it that way. Some find the alternative easier and more precise, but both ways are still considered the split stitch! Be sure to experiment and find what works best for you

CLICK HERE to view a video tutorial for how to do the split stitch, and be sure to give us a follow for future breakdowns!

Happy Stitching!

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