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Fashion Embroidery: Learn how to master leaf stitch

Embroidery in fashion is booming. From haute couture and ready-to-wear catwalks to the high street, embroidery is having a great resurgence. In Fashion Embroidery, Jessica Pile, Production Director at renowned embroidery company Hand & Lock, explores the various techniques used in fashion embroidery, showing how you can use it to personalise your own garments. Here, Jessica shows how to master the leaf stitch.


Leaf stitch is one of my favourite basic stitches. It works really well in floral patterns, hence the name leaf stitch. I often combine it with silk shading, with the silk-shaded flowers and the leaf stitch creating two different textures. The leaf stitch is known as a filling stitch, similar to satin stitch.

  1. First you will need to mark out on the fabric the shape of your leaf. I also find it helpful to draw two lines down the leaf to represent each side of the central vein. These lines will also act as a guide as to where to place your stitches.
  2. Bring the needle up at the base of the leaf on one side of the central vein. Take the needle across to the opposite side of the leaf and take the needle down on the outer edge.
  3. Bring the needle back up on the closest central line, take your needle across to the opposite side of the leaf and take it down on the outside line. 
  4. Your third stitch needs to be made on the closest central line, near the first stitch, but positioned so that it will cross over the second stitch. Your third stitch should be parallel to your first stitch.
  5. Repeat this all the way up the leaf shape, keeping the spacing between each stitch the same size. As a final touch, you can outline the leaf with stem stitch.

Extracted from Fashion Embroidery by Jessica Pile, out now.

Top photograph: Ralph & Russo. Step-by-step photographs: Jutta Klee.