How to Embroider Leaves the Easy Way | i should be mopping the floor
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How to Embroider Leaves the Easy Way

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Today, I'm sharing how to embroider leaves the easy way...well, at least I'm calling it the easy way. Embroidered leaves have always fascinated me. This method isn't too overly neat and leaves a little room for your own interpretation, regarding stitch lengths and shapes. Hope you enjoy this little tutorial for how to embroider least, the easiest way I know. 

How to Embroider Leaves
I feel like leaves are such a big part of embroidered designs...they can anchor and really make smaller floral embroidery pieces work together perfectly. For the longest time (well, relatively speaking, I've only been embroidering for about a year), I would stick to the crazy daisy stitch and change it up for different leaf sizes. The only issue was that all of my leaves were hollow. I played around with lots of filling and satin stitches and kind of married two methods in this tutorial for How to Embroider Leaves the Easy Way. Check it out below.

Hoop Art
Yesterday, I shared a tutorial and free printable template for the above Home Sweet Home hoop art. One of the major components of this embroidery hoop is the leaves that surround the entire piece. They definitely took up the most time while stitching this design, but I think they were worth it. Incidentally, I made the 15 flowers on this hoop using this flower embroidery tutorial over at Making Jiggy

Embroidery Book of Stitches
I mentioned this yesterday, but the above book, 500 Simply Charming Designs for Embroidery is basically my stitch bible. If you're new to embroidery, it's a good one for sure. I love it for the stitch tutorials it has illustrated (the designs are neat, too...but the stitches are perfectly depicted in an effortless manner).

DMC Floss

How to Embroider Leaves the Easy Way 

I started with DMC 25-909 Embroidery Floss. This is a 6-thread floss, but we'll change that up a bit for this particular stitching pattern. You can really use any 6-strand floss for these embroidery leaves.

Separating Embroidery Floss
Cut a length of thread from your original floss about two feet long. You will separate your strands (your goal is to end up with just four strands for your stitching).

Embroidery Essentials
I like to make two piles: one with the four strands and another with the leftover two threads. You'll use those two extra threads on the next length of floss...just keep pairing the leftover threads with more leftover threads to always have a bundle of four threads for your stitching.

Embroidery Basics
I actually use the plastic floss bobbins for my already-cut, four-stranded floss pieces (I am not sure many stitchers use them this way...but it works for me). I often embroider at my kids' activities and games, while I'm waiting on them. It's easy for me to prepare a bunch of these ahead of time, instead of cutting and separating threads while I'm out and about. If I know I'm doing some pretty extensive stitching, I just prepare a bunch of these and put them in a plastic baggy to take with me. 

Embroidery Floss Threaded
When I'm ready to stitch, I pull remove my floss from its bobbin and tie it off at one end and thread it into my needle at the other end.

Leaf Embroidery
I use the Frixion Erasable Pens (they disappear with the steam from your iron when your project is complete) to draw out my leaves. It's a really simple leaf shape with a straight line up the middle. My free pattern from yesterday's embroidery design already has the leaf templates in place for you.

Embroidering Leaves and Flowers

Ready to learn how to embroider leaves? Let's do this:

You will bring up your threaded needle (from the back of the fabric) at the top point of your drawn leaf. 

Stitching Leaves
Pull your length of floss all the way up until your knot stops it at the end of the length. Take the needle to the bottom point of your leaf (the bottom of your leaf is usually butted up to a vine or flower...unless you have floating leaves) and push your needle through back out the backside of your hoop's fabric.

Floral Embroidery
You've basically made a long stitch on top of the straight template line of the leaf.

Embroidery Basics and Stitches
You will now push your needle back up through the fabric just to the right of your leaf's top point.

Leaf Stitching
Pull your thread all the way out until it stops.

You will put your needle back through a little more than halfway down the leaf on the opposite side of your long center stitch (crossing over that stitch). This is where you can get creative and change up where that needle goes back in for different looks (just always make sure to cross your center stitch to the opposite side). After you're more comfortable with leaf embroidery, you can play around with the look you like best.

Leaf Embroidery Tutorial
Pull that floss all the way through until taught.

Green Embroidery Floss
Now you'll put your needle back out on the opposite side that you began the previous stitch on, up next to the top point of your leaf.

Hoop Art Design
Again, cross over the center and place your needle back through around the mid point (on the opposite side that you began that stitch).

Finishing Hoop Art
You will see that your stitches start forming an X of sorts in the middle of your leaf, one over the other. We'll continue this back and forth pattern the entire way down your length.

Hand Embroidery Designs
Continue by bringing your needle back out just next to that initial thread you pulled through.

Handmade crafting
Just keep repeating the same pattern, back and forth the entire way down your leaf. Your middle mark, where your threads go back into the fabric will gradually shift downward every stitch.

EmbroideryHoop Art
Do this all the way down to the bottom point of your leaf.

Embroidery Project
Once your last stitch goes back through the fabric to its backside, tie it off with your initial thread on the other side of the knot. Or finish it off with the manner you're most comfortable with and trim the excess.

Other stitchers' takes on how to embroider leaves:

I used this method for how to embroider leaves the easy way in my Mother's Day Hoop Art, too. You can see it in action in the video below: 

Home Sweet Home Hoop Art
I think the best way to learn embroidery is just to start! Hoping this tutorial for how to embroider leaves helps you on a fun hoop project. Thank you to the amazing Bev of Flamingo Toes for inspiring me to start embroidery at her hoop art class...she's started a fantastic hobby with this girl, y'all!


  1. You can use 2 shades of green in your 4 strand bundles to add extra dimension to your leaves; it works for flowers too. After all, there are few single colors in nature.