Small But Mighty Seed Stitch

ombre triangle made of seed stitches
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Sometimes, Wonderful Things Come in Small Packages… Like the Seed Stitch!

… and this is true of the wonderfully simple but lovely seed stitch, also known as the rice stitch.

What the seed stitch really is is a single straight stitch, going from point A to point B to create a small line. It’s truly that simple. It has very little in terms of rules which means you kind of can do with it what you will to get the desired look you want.

They can be used alone, or grouped either in an organized fashion or randomly, and you can mix up the grouping to your heart’s content.

There are also no rules as to the direction the seed stitch lays, and you can space them as close or as far as you’d like. You don’t even have to make their lengths the same. There truly is a lot of freedom when it comes to how you use it.

Well, what would we use the seed stitch for?

They’re great little stitches for creating cute accents, textures, and fills.

When added as an open fill to shade in areas it refers to shading where the background is still visible, and when you use the seed stitch as an open fill it can add a bit of dimension to your work. This is sometimes referred to as a powdering technique.

If you’ve had a chance to look over some of my other embroidery stitch tutorials you’ll notice that they often start off with a seed stitch, so because of that I think of it as a seed, just as the name states, which grows into other stitches.

Let’s explore some ways to use the seed stitch.

As I mentioned earlier, you can use the seed stitch alone. Maybe there’s just a little line you need and that’s great! Sometimes, a tiny little stitch is all you need to add just a wee bit of visual interest.

More often than not, you’ll probably use multiple seed stitches.

The hardest thing about this stitch is trying to decide what combination of size, numbers, distance, and direction you’ll want to use.

You can keep them all organized with similar sizes, going in the same direction, and similar in distances from each other to give it a nice uniform look.

Depending on how you lay them out it might even look a lot like the running stitch, which if you ask me, the running stitch is a bunch of seed stitches.

group of spaced out stitches
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Other times where you might want to give it a more random and organic effect, in which case you might try switching up their directions or spacing, and maybe even their size.

Change up the distance from each other can also create different effects.

The closer the stitches the denser the fill will be, and the further apart they are the more background you’ll see to give it a more transparent feel.

random single stitches
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If you want a more distinct texture you’ll usually want to create larger seed stitches which can be done by increasing the length, using more thread, or doubling up your stitches by placing a couple of them next to each other like the stitches to the right.

It changes things up quite a bit! With just one stitch it feels more delicate. Doubled up it looks a bit more beefy!

one seed stitch vs doubling them up
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The seed stitch also makes it easy to play with colors so you can create some interesting effects. In this triangle I used 3 different colors with randomly placed stitches.

See how I’ve used darker colors stitched a bit closer together near the bottom?

I’ve also mixed in some double seed stitches there as well and this combination helps create the illusion of shading and makes the shape feel heavier on the lower half of the triangle.

ombre triangle made of seed stitches
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Now mix the doubled up seed stitches with the single ones to see how they interact with each other. Since doubling them up makes them more dense your pattern will be more bold in contrast to the single seed stitch.

There is another use for the seed stitch…

You can add a bunch of them underneath your satin stitch to create a little volume to your stem, leaf, or whatever it might be that you’re working on. It acts as a little shelf below your satin stitch, giving it just a bit of a facelift.

Now that you know what you can do with the seed stitch you know that it is a bit of a rebel without rules, and not to be underestimated.

organized stitches
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As tiny as it might be it has a lot to contribute. Just the shading effects it can create alone show that it is a powerhouse that brings some punch to the table.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this fairly quick tutorial and find it helpful as you work on your embroidery creations. Hop on over to my stitch library if you’d like to learn more!

❤️ Happy stitching!

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Ombre colored triangle made of seed stitches