How to Split Stitch

How to Split Stitch

Want to learn how to split stitch? This easy hand embroidery tutorial walks you through every step of the process so that you can get to the fun part faster!


    Are you looking to enhance your hand embroidery skills by learning how to split stitch? Maybe this is your first time doing hand embroidery. Either way, you’re in the right place. At Press Hall, we love to create free educational tutorials on all types of decoration techniques. Unlike other decoration techniques, hand embroidery offers an extremely low start-up cost, yet provides a unique, one-of-a-kind result.

    Don’t worry, as complex as the split stitch looks, it’s actually a great hand embroidery stitch for beginners. When you look closely at a split stitch, it looks like a tiny little chain or braid made out of embroidery floss. It’s a great stitch to use for line art, cursive lettering, or even as a filler stitch beneath satin stitches to make your embroidery design more dimensional and thick.

    Once you learn to split stitch, you can complete any kind of line drawing with embroidery floss! Sure, you can follow suit to our grandmothers and create cool wall decor… But here at Press Hall, we prefer to embroider apparel and accessories in new and exciting ways.

    Products We Used


    • Embroidery floss

    • Embroidery hoop

    • Hand embroidery needle

    • Non-stretchy practice fabric (like denim or canvas)

    • Scissors

    • Tear-away stabilizer (optional)

    • Hoop stand (optional)

    The Prepping

    Step 1: Gather your materials.

    Set up your workspace. You’ll want to have a comfortable, well-lit area.

    Step 2: Hoop your fabric.

    Hoop your non-stretchy practice fabric like denim or canvas. To do this, start by loosening and separating the embroidery hoop into two circles.

    Place the circle without the screw element on a flat surface and then place your fabric over the circle, being sure to cover all edges of the embroidery hoop. If you’re using stabilizer, hoop it along with your fabric to provide extra stability.

    Finally, place the circle with the screw element over it all. Using both palms, apply pressure to the embroidery hoop until all edges are even and the fabric is sandwiched between the two hoops.

    Pull the fabric taut against the embroidery hoop to make sure it's not wobbly within the hoop. Then, tighten the screw on the embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut while embroidering.

    Embroidering Apparel

    If you’re new to embroidering on apparel, we suggest starting off with fabrics that aren’t super stretchy. Light weight denim is always a great option. You’ll also want to hoop the garment with a layer of tear-away stabilizer.

    Embroidery Tip

    Step 3: Thread the needle.

    Cut a piece of hand embroidery floss at about an arm’s length (about 20 inches). Trust us, you don’t want to deal with a piece of hand embroidery floss that’s longer than your arm can pull.

    For most embroidery stitches, you want to single-thread your needle. This means that you should pull one end of the hand embroidery floss through the needle about 6 inches or so. Then tie a knot on the opposite end.

    The Making

    Step 1: Make the first stitch.

    Starting from the back of the hoop, push your needle through to the front of the hoop. Continue to pull the excess floss to the front of the hoop until the knot at the end catches on the back of the hoop.

    Complete the first stitch by pushing the needle back down through the front of the hoop about 8 millimeters away from your needle’s previous puncture point. Don’t grab a ruler! 8 millimeters is about the length of a long grain of rice. Then keep pulling until all the floss is again on the back of the hoop. Now you’ve completed the first stitch!

    Step 2: Bring the needle up through the middle of your first stitch.

    From the back side of the hoop, bring your needle up through the center of your previous stitch, while being sure to split the stitch.

    With typical embroidery floss, there are 6 strands total. When your needle is splitting the stitch properly, you’ll see that 3 strands are on either side of the needle before pulling the needle through completely.

    Be patient! It may take a little bit of practice before you get it right. Once you do, the split stitch works up super fast and is an impressive-looking stitch.

    Step 3: Push the needle back down through to the back side of the hoop.

    Push the needle back down through to the back side of the hoop to complete the split stitch.

    Step 4: Repeat steps 1 - 3.

    Being sure to keep each stitch a similar length, repeat steps 1 - 3 to create a full stitchline using the split stitch.

    Step 5: Tying off a piece of hand embroidery floss.

    When you either run out of embroidery floss or are finished with your stitch line, be sure to leave at least 3 inches of excess embroidery floss on the back of the hoop. Remove the needle and set it aside.

    Split the 3 inch tail of embroidery floss into two threads (3 strands each). Tie a square knot using the two threads and trim any excess using a pair of scissors.

    It’s really that simple! Once you get the hang of the split stitch, you can create any line drawing in no time! This decorative stitch is a great way to embellish tote bags, sweatshirts, denim shirts, hats, and so much more! Check out our affordable and decoration-ready blank apparel and accessories.

    Ready to start making?

    Check out our collection of embroidery projects!
    Get stitchin'
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