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6 Stumpwork Tutorials to Bring Your Embroidery to Life

Stumpwork techniques make hand embroidery quite extraordinary. We’ll show you how it’s done with plenty of eye candy and a few stumpwork tutorials to whet your appetite. Get an introduction, then take a class and create stitching that is a work of art!

Stumpwork tutorials by Di van Niekerk

Learn some of these stumpwork techniques shared by international author and teacher Di van Niekerk.

In stumpwork, embroidery is raised off of the fabric surface by either building on stitches or creating three-dimensional components. The lifelike result is stunning. Professional fiber artist Di van Niekerk has taught stumpwork and ribbon embroidery while also authoring nearly a dozen books on the subject. She has graciously allowed us to share some of her tutorials on various stumpwork techniques.

Padded Leaf Shapes For Ribbon Embroidery Di van Niekerk

Photos via Di van Niekerk

Stitch padding

Satin stitching is not new to embroidery, but add satin stitching over quilt batting or foam and the extra lift makes leaves take on a life of their own. 

Stumpwork satin stitch padding via Di van Niekerk.

Padded leaf tutorial:

1. Cut padding to the size of the leaf.
2. Stab stitch the batting to the fabric around the outside edge.
3. Add satin stitching on each half of the leaf, covering the batting.

Appliqué style stumpwork

Stumpwork rose leaves by Di van Niekerk

These rose leaves were created like an appliqué with buttonhole stitching around the edges.

Items that do not need much lift off of the fabric, like leaves or birds, are created just like an appliqué.

Buttonhole stitching for stumpwork shapes by Di van Niekerk

Appliqué stumpwork tutorial

1. Start by outlining the shape with angled buttonhole stitches.
2. Fill in the shape with long and short stitches. Change thread colors to create shading.

filled in stumpwork leaf by Di van Niekerk

3. Cut out the shape close to the edge, being careful to not cut into the stitches. Add an anti-fray product if necessary.

stumpwork Leucadendron Di van Niekerk

The shapes can then be added to lower levels of the embroidery project.

Stumpwork bird by Di van Niekerk

Even this little bird can be created as a stumpwork “appliqué.”

French knot stumpwork

stumpwork hydrangeas by Di van Niekerk

These beautiful hydrangeas are made of French knots.

how to stitch a stumpwork hydrangea by Di van Niekerk

French knot hydrangea tutorial

1. Add French knots to a small circle.
2. Place a row of running stitches around the outside diameter of the hydrangea.
3. Pull to gather into a ball and stitch to secure the gather.
4. Tack the hydrangea ball to the project.

Wire slips stumpwork

Wrapped wire stumpwork poppies by Di van Niekerk

Wire really makes a statement in stumpwork embroidery. It is the foundation for many three-dimensional creations such as leaves, petals and wings.

Wire slips in stumpwork by Di van Niekerk

Wire stumpwork tutorial

1. Start by shaping a wire (#22 up to #30) around the fabric drawing.
2. Tack the wire to the fabric using little stab stitches around the shape.

Stumpwork buttonhole stitch by Di van Niekerk

3. Use the buttonhole stitch to go around the wire shape, attaching it to the fabric.
4. Fill in the area inside the wire that forms your petal.
5. As above, carefully clip close to the edge of the stitching.

attaching stumpwork petals

6. Poke the wire through the project fabric and secure to the back.

stumpwork dragonfly wings

The same technique can be used to create insect and fairy wings, often using organza as the base fabric.

Making stumpwork stems by Di van Niekerk

Stumpwork stems

Dimensional stems can be created by stitching the back stitch with silk ribbon along the stem line, then wrapping ribbon around the stem-stitched ribbon with a whipped back stitch to encase it.

Raised stem stitch stumpwork monogram by Di van Niekerk

Stem stitch monogram

Raised stem stitch diagram by Di van Niekerk

Stem stitching allows you to weave stitches so that they are built up on the fabric. This is very useful for creating monograms that stand out from the background.

By combining these basic stitches, you can create extraordinary pieces of textile art that will leave your friends and family breathless.

For in-depth training you can access around the clock, be sure to take Bluprint’s class, Stumpwork: Raised Embroidery Essentials with Celeste Chalasani.



These are stunning. I will try them someday.


They are, indeed, Angie!

Jean G.

Thank you so much for this tutorial! All of your examples are so beautiful! I can’t wait to try these. I liked the tutorial so much I signed up for the Stumpwork class!


So happy you enjoyed it Jean. Be sure to post photos from your class so we can enjoy them too!


WOW! These are fabulous! I can’t wait to try all of these. I’ve done hand embroidery since I was 8, but never realized how Much more there is to learn! Guess after over 50 years I will learn something new!


I know, Nancy. these beautiful designs make me want to learn more too!

Jimmie Vrazsity

Beautiful work.


It is, indeed, Jimmie!


I have some of her classes on DVD. Such beautiful work.

Debbie Henry

Yes it is, Zoed!


Thank you . This is fabulous and very inspiring.

Debbie Henry

On my bucket list for sure Elizabeth!

Barb Flavin

I’m new to Craftsy–I’ve purchased some classes, including the Stumpwork class with Celeste Chalasani, but I had to wait almost 2 months for my supplies to come in and now I don’t have the time to watch the classes until mid-June.

That was me explaining how I may have missed the answer to my question…Does or will Craftsy offer classes by Di van Niekerk?

Thank you so much! And thank you for posting these great tutorials!


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