Fan Stitch embroidery

Fan Stitch

Fan Stitch is a decorative surface stitch from the Straight Stitch family. Five or seven straight stitches of different lengths are positioned to fill a quarter of the circle and form a fan-like pattern. Sometimes, an additional stitch is added to create a stem or a handle for the Fan.

Traditionally, this embroidery stitch should be embroidered as a counted stitch. But you can adapt it to modern embroidery and embroider it on non-counted fabrics, such as linen, cotton, or silk. In this case, you must mark the grid for the stitches.

Other names of the Fan Stitch

This surface embroidery technique is also called Ray Stitch, Fancy Fan, or Straight Fan. If grouped in a certain way, the stitches form a Fan Pattern.

Fan Stitch embroidery in rows
Fan Stitch embroidery in rows
Fan Stitch embroidery filling
Fan filling

Applications of the Fan Stitch

Ray Stitch, also known as the Fan Stitch, is a versatile surface embroidery technique that can be adapted to various styles. Originating from Canvas work, it was traditionally used for filling or shading. In modern surface embroidery, you can unleash your creativity by using the Fan stitch for botanical embroidery—to depict leaves, petals, or grass. This stitch also adds a touch of elegance as a decorative border, especially when combined with other stitches.

More stitches from the Straight Stitch family

Learn how to embroider Fan Stitch

Follow the step-by-step tutorial with detailed photos below, and you will learn the Fan Stitch quickly. If you are a visual learner, watch a video lesson in the tutorial or on the Practical Embroidery YouTube channel to learn how to stitch this hand embroidery faster.

Fan Stitch embroidery small image

How to embroider Fan Stitch

Step-by-step hand embroidery tutorial


1. Mark the fabric with a grid for the stitches.

Fan Stitch Step1

2. Make the first Straight Stitch.

Fan Stitch Step2

3. The second Straight Stitch goes down to the same hole as the first.

Fan Stitch Step3

4. Add five more Straight stitches, taking them down to the same hole as the first and the second stitches.

Fan Stitch Step4

5. Depending on your design, you can embroider detached Fan Stitches, or position them in a row. Also, you can change the direction of the stitches.

Fan Stitch Step5

6. For decorative borders, change the angle of the stitches.

Fan Stitch Step6

7. Also, you can use Fan stitch for filling. Simply position the rows of stitches one above the other.

Filling with Fan Stitch

Video tutorial

YouTube player

Tools and materials I used for this sampler

Disclaimer. To cover the cost of creating free embroidery patterns and video tutorials for this blog, I do sometimes link to products. Please assume these links are affiliate links. If you choose to buy through my links then THANK YOU – it will make it possible for me to keep doing this.

Embroidery fabric cotton linen neutral colors Etsy
Embroidery fabric
DMC Pearl Cotton #8 thread on Etsy
DMC Pearl Cotton #8
DMC Embroidery Floss Etsy
DMC Embroidery Floss
Beechwood embroidery hoops Etsy
Embroidery hoop
Bohin Embroidery Needles Etsy
Bohin Embroidery Needles
Embroidery Scissors Etsy
Embroidery Scissors

What’s next?

If you’re in the mood to explore more hand embroidery stitches, check out the Stitches and Techniques page for the list of other fantastic stitches available on my blog. From timeless classics to modern twists, a whole world of stitches is waiting for you to explore and master. So, grab your hoop and needle, and let’s stitch our way to creative bliss!

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Need More Guidance?

The top 10 hand embroidery stitches to learn is a free online course created for beginners.

White sashiko stitches on purple fabric