Leaf Embroidery Stitch - tutorial and video lesson

Leaf embroidery stitch

Leaf embroidery stitch is a technique from the Satin stitch family that’s as timeless as beautiful. Whether you’re a seasoned hand at embroidery or just threading your first needle, the charm of creating a leaf from mere strands will captivate you.

The Leaf stitch technique comes from canvas work. In canvas work, this stitch is worked on six horizontal threads and is often used as a pattern. Textile Research Center has an in-depth article about a Leaf stitch (Fir stitch).

Other names of the stitch

In canvas work, a Leaf stitch is also known as a Fir stitch. In surface embroidery, it is often called a Satin stitch leaf. 

Be aware that a Fishbone embroidery stitch is sometimes mistakenly called a Leaf stitch, but these two are different embroidery methods.

Green leave embroidered with leaf stitch
Reverse side of leaf stitch embroidery

Applications of the Leaf Stitch

The applications of this beautiful hand embroidery stitch are as varied as the leaves in a lush garden. They grace the borders of tablecloths, add a flourish to a linen blouse, and even create an entire forest on a tapestry if you’re up for it. As functional as they are decorative, these stitches add texture and a touch of nature’s serenity to any piece.

Leaf stitch is one of the embroidery techniques used in many embroidery styles. We use this stitch to make stumpwork leaves, botanical needlework, crewel embroidery foliage, surface embroidery leaves, Brazilian embroidery leaves, and even silk ribbon leaves. This embroidery stitch is essential for any nature-inspired embroidery or botanical stitchwork.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Leaf Embroidery Stitch

Let’s thread our needle and embark on the journey of creating our own embroidered foliage. The step-by-step instructions will guide you through the process. If you are a visual learner, watch a video tutorial on the Practical Embroidery YouTube channel and learn how to embroider Leaf stitch as a pro in no time.

Green leave embroidered with leaf stitch

How to embroider Leaf stitch

Yield: 1 sampler
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner

Step-by-step hand embroidery tutorial


  • Embroidery hoop
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Embroidery floss in shades of green or any color that speaks to your leafy imagination
  • Optional: Tracing paper or a water-soluble pen to mark your design


  • Scissors
  • Embroidery needle


  1. Secure your fabric: Place it in the embroidery hoop, ensuring it's taut like a drum. This tension is critical to smooth stitching.
  2. Sketch or transfer the leaf design: You can draw your leaf freehand or transfer a design using tracing paper or a soluble pen.
  3. Thread the needle: Choose your thread color and separate the strands according to your desired thickness or the pattern instructions you are following. For this tutorial, I used all six strands of embroidery floss. 
  4. Start with a straight stitch on top of the leave: Begin at the top of the leaf with a straight stitch down the center to create the central vein. Leaf embroidery stitch step 1
  5. Stitch the leaf's body: Stitch from the outline center ward, alternating sides and working in a mirror image. Each stitch should be slightly angled towards the top of the leaf, giving it that natural leaf shape. Leaf embroidery stitch step 2 Leaf embroidery stitch step 3
  6. Fill in the shape: Continue with these angled stitches, filling out the leaf's form. You can vary the length and angle to mimic the leaf's natural contours. Leaf embroidery stitch step 4
  7. Finishing touches: As you reach the base of the leaf, the stitches should become shorter to rounden the bottom of the leave. 
  8. Secure the thread. Finish the leave by securing the stitches with a knot or hide the thread under the previously made stitches.

More filling stitches from the Satin stitch family

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!

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