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Also known as Freestyle

Surface embroidery, also known as freestyle embroidery, is a catch-all term which refers to any technique which is worked independently of the weave of the ground fabric. Stitches can be worked in any direction and can use a multitude of threads, although stranded cotton is probably the most popular.  The stitcher uses an embroidery or crewel needle (i.e. a needle with a sharp point) as the needle pierces the threads of the ground fabric, rather than being inserted between them. 

It can be worked on any fabric, although if worked on an evenweave fabric, the weave is ignored with regard to the placing of the needle.  Designs are normally drawn onto the fabric, or they can be worked by eye.

Techniques such as canvaswork, counted thread, blackwork, drawn thread and pulled thread would not be considered surface embroidery as they rely on counting threads to determine where to insert the needle.  Those techniques such as stumpwork or goldwork which are very raised from the fabric or which use specialised materials would also not normally be described as surface embroidery.  N.B. some techniques combine surface embroidery with other styles such as pulled thread.

Surface Stitches

Antwerp edging stitch Arrowhead stitch Back stitch Back stitch trellis Back-stitched chain stitch Basket filling stitch Basque stitch Battlement couching Blanket stitch Block shading Bokhara couching Braid stitch Brick shading Brick stitch Bullion knot Bunched couching Burden stitch Buttonhole bars Buttonhole scallops Buttonhole stitch Buttonhole wheels Cable chain stitch Cable stitch Chain stitch Chequered chain stitch Chessboard filling stitch Chevron stem stitch Chevron stitch Chinese knot Closed buttonhole stitch Closed feather stitch Closed fly stitch Closed herringbone stitch Cloud filling stitch Colonial knot Coral stitch Couched herringbone stitch Couching Cretan open filling stitch Cretan stitch (closed) Cretan stitch (open) Cross bar filling trellis Cross bar with link trellis Cross stitch Crossed buttonhole stitch Darning stitch Detached chain stitch Detached wheatear stitch Detached woven picot Diamond stitch Dot stitch Double back stitch Double buttonhole stitch Double chain stitch Double darning Double feather stitch Double herringbone stitch Double knot stitch Double running stitch Elizabethan back stitch filling Elizabethan back stitch variation Elizabethan blanket stitch Elizabethan double ladder stitch Elizabethan double looped edging Elizabethan double twisted chain stitch Elizabethan holly braid stitch Elizabethan Ladder braid stitch Elizabethan ladder stitch Elizabethan looped edging Elizabethan plaited braid stitch Elizabethan plaited braid stitch (cherry variation) Ermine stitch Eyelet stitch Fan (pattern) Feather stitch Feathered chain stitch Fern stitch Finishing stitch Fishbone stitch Flat stitch Fly stitch Fly stitch filling Four-legged knot stitch French knot Granito Heavy chain stitch Herringbone ladder filling stitch Herringbone stitch Holbein stitch Holding stitch Interlaced herringbone band Interlaced herringbone stitch Jessica Stitch Knotted buttonhole stitch Knotted cable chain stitch Knotted chain stitch Knotted pearl stitch Laced herringbone stitch Ladder stitch (surface) Laid work Leaf stitch (surface) Long and short blanket stitch Long and short stitch Long-tailed daisy stitch Loop stitch Marking cross stitch Mountmellick stitch Open chain stitch Open fishbone stitch Outline stitch Overcast stitch Padded satin stitch (laid work padding) Padded satin stitch (split stitch padding) Pearl Stitch Pearl stitch (variation) Pekinese stitch Petal stitch Pistil stitch Plaited braid stitch Plunging Point a la Minute Point russe Portuguese knotted stem stitch Quaker stitch Raised chain band stitch Raised chevron stitch Raised fishbone stitch Raised leaf stitch Raised stem band stitch Reverse chain stitch Reversed fly stitch Romanian couching Rope stitch Rope stitch (variation) Rosette chain stitch Running stitch Satin stitch Scroll stitch Seeding stitch Shisha stitch (variation 1) Shisha stitch (variation 2) Shisha stitch (variation 3) Single feather stitch Sinhalese chain stitch Slanted satin stitch Small eyelet Sorbello stitch Spaced buttonhole filling Spaced cross stitch filling Spanish knotted feather stitch Spine chain stitch Split stitch Square boss stitch Stab stitch Star eyelet stitch Stem stitch Straight stitch Surface darning stitch Sword-edging stitch Tailor’s buttonhole stitch Tete-de-boeuf stitch Thorn stitch Threaded back stitch Threaded chain stitch Threaded herringbone stitch Tied herringbone stitch Trellis Turkey rug stitch Turned satin stitch Twisted chain stitch Two-sided cross stitch Up and down blanket stitch Van Dyke stitch Wave stitch Whip stitch Whipped back stitch Whipped blanket stitch Whipped chain stitch Whipped running stitch Whipped stem stitch Whipped wheel Woven picot Woven wheel