[ 'How To' Tutorials ][ Embroidery Stitches ]

Stitch Fun – Burden Stitch


Stitch this Fabulous Sampler

stitch sampler for hand embroidery

If you want to stitch this wonderful sampler and learn over 30 Hand Embroidery stitches then head over to this page for all the information.

If you have purchased the Pre Printed Fabric Panel or have tranferred the Template to your fabric – scroll down to the ‘Start Stitching’ section to get started straight away.

Burden Stitch

This filler stitch is incredibly beautiful and simple. The best bit is, you can decide what type of effect you want to have in your design just by varying how close the stitches are together.

The closer they are the more filled in the piece looks – make them with distance in between and you get more of a woven design – either way it looks really nice when complete.

We will do 2 variations so you can see how different the same stitch can look given a few little changes.

Variation 1: Densely Filled Shape

Mark a quarter circle on your sampler.

On the lower right quarter of your sampler – mark 2cm from the centre point down and the same across and then join the 2 marks up with a quarter circle shape so it looks something like this…

Start Stitching…

Burden stitch is basically horizontal lines which are then couched down.

I used 2 strands of dark blue thread.

Cover the shape with evenly spaced horizontal stitches…

Next, stitch vertical stitches to anchor these horizontal stitches down.

The vertical stitches can be the same or a different colour depending on your design. I decided to go with 2 strands of a more vibrant blue for these stitches.

Start in the middle of the shape.

Each long horizontal stitch is anchored down with vertical straight stitches. Make the straight stitches anchor the horizontal stitch down with a stitch length that spans the gap in between the 2 lines above and below the one being anchored. As in the following photos…

Space the stitches apart depending on the fill effect you are after. I tried to make my gaps about the width of the thread so that the shape would be densely filled when I complete the other rows.

Start the next row above and do the same again, the stitches come out in the gaps created on the previous row and anchor down the next horizontal stitch and go back in just below the horizontal stitch above this one…

As you can see, because I left a small gap about the width of the thread – the next row fills the gap and therefore the shape will be densely filled.

Complete to finish the top half of the shape – where the shape comes in you will end up stitching half stitches or even smaller just to fill in the area and keep the shapes form.

For the lower half of the shape I decided to use the full 6 strands of a variegated thread as I was just interested to see the different effect. You could make the gaps larger as well but I decided to closely fill again…

Here’s the end result which I really liked…

Variation 2: spaced stitches

Mark a 3cm square on the sampler just next to the shape you just stitched…

I chose a size 8 perle thread in 3 different colours.

Fill in the square in exactly the same way as you did for the other shape. Stitch long horizontal stitches evenly spaced and then stitch straight vertical stitches to anchor them down in rows. This spaced out version helps you see the brick formation of the stitches more clearly.

I love how this stitch can create such a different effect and hopefully by doing the 2 versions it gives you a lot more idea of how versatile it is.

Happy Stitching!

Want to remember this? Post this tutorial to your favourite Pinterest board!

Burden Stitch Tutorial


  1. Thanks for the fun sampler!

    My daughter and I are beginners, and we’re having a great time learning these stitches!

    I can see that you have put a lot of effort into making these tutorials (which we appreciate!) and I understand that you may not have time to answer all these questions. 🙂

    Is there somewhere on your site where you talk about the basics? How many threads to use, how to start and finish a stitch, how to use multiple colors, etc.

    In the case of the triangle burden stitch, do you use fewer strands of blue than purple/pink?

    We’re trying to figure it out as we go, but we’d love some guidance from you, if you have a moment.

    Thanks again for making the downloadable template available! I would have ordered the pre-printed, but shipping times to the US being what they are now, I was happy to have this alternative!

    1. Hello, great to hear from you. So happy the tutorials have proven useful for you. As far as starting – I am lazy and happy to use a small knot – as I use a second fabric (calico) I find I can get away with this.For finishing I pop a couple of stitches at the back of the work to anchor it in place. I have some beginner videos on using a hoop and splitting the thread here… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEXP_pCbtpVlo0yqmj8ZYlw
      With the burden – I actually played around with different amounts of colours and thread just to see what they looked like and which I preferred – thats the beauty of a stitch sampler – anything goes as you try out different effects. We have a wonderful FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/happystitching) with people of all levels who you could always join in with and ask away. If preferred you can just email me nicola@stitchdoodles.com with any questions. x

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