Add Volume & Texture with the Bullion Stitch
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Here's another fun embroidery stitch that will add texture and interest to your embroidery pieces... the bullion stitch. It looks like a straight stitch but with volume, and if you don't mind me saying, it resembles a little worm. But don't let the bullion stitch scare you off because you can get pretty creative with it. Stitch things such as open and closed fills inside of shapes, add texture to hair, and create seeds, flowers, and so on. You can create one single bullion stitch to make something like a wheat grain or it can be grouped together to get some really fun effects.
The bullion stitch looks pretty simple to make at first glance, but to be frank, it's not exactly a beginner's embroidery stitch, kind of like the popcorn lazy daisy stitch. It requires both hands, a bit of coordination, and a bit of practice. If you’re just starting out in embroidery start with the basics first, then give this intermediate level stitch a go.
Sometimes, photos just aren't enough, and seeing how something is made through a video can be super helpful, so at the end of this tutorial take a peek at my video tutorial.
- The bullion stitch works best when using high quality threads such as DMC threads. They tend to be smoother and firmer which makes it easier to pull through your wraps.
- Because you'll be wrapping your thread around your needle and pulling it through the wraps, you may want to use a needle with an eye that isn’t too bulbous. Otherwise things will get a little feisty.
I use my regular DMC embroidery needles to make the bullion stitch because the eyes aren't so wide that they create major issues, and I've learned not to wrap my thread too tightly. But if you have any trouble with it use a Milliners (straw) needle which is streamlined and will help your needle pass through easily.
The bullion stitch can be created from any direction, and for this embroidery stitch tutorial I'll make one going up & down.
- Begin by coming up to the top of the fabric from the bottom and returning to the back a stitch length away at the top.
- Don't pull the thread all the way through. It needs to be pretty loose on top to continue the rest of the steps.
- Push your needle back up to the top, at or very near the point where you started, and stop halfway.
- Hold your needle in place from below the fabric with one hand.
- With the other hand, pick up the end of the thread that's closest to your needle, and carefully wrap it several times around your needle. It doesn't matter which direction you go.
- Remember, your needle needs to pass through your wrapped thread so don't wrap it too tightly.
- Push the wrapped thread down along your needle and set it gently against your fabric to see if the wraps reach the thread at the top. Add more wraps if you need to.
TIP: If you add more wraps your stitch will end up with a curve. If that’s what you’re going for, add more wraps to create a bigger curve.
- Here is where it can get a little tricky, and this may require some practice...
- Pinch your wrapped thread and carefully pull your needle through.
- As you pull your needle and thread up with one hand, use your other hand to keep your bullion stitch from unravelling. Use your fingernails to pull the wraps down if they start to stray.
- Continue pulling until your bullion stitch fits nice and snug against your fabric.
- Feel free to adjust the wraps using your needle should any fall out of place.
To finish your embroidery stitch, just return to the back of your fabric.
The first few I made were a bit of a disaster, so if that's the case for you don't feel bad. It's a bit of a tricky one, but I promise that it's worth learning and you'll find it fun once you get it down.
Try creating a group of french knots, then add bullion stitches around it. This will create a cute little flower or rose!
This embroidery stitch isn't a beginner's stitch but it's not too difficult so give it a few go's! Don't forget to watch my bullion embroidery stitch video below:
Bullion Stitch Video