Fly stitch embroidery how-tos and inspiration

The fly stitch is a versatile and handy one that I use over and over again. You can vary how tightly you pull the main stitch as well as the length of the anchor stitch for a variety of looks.

Here’s a diagram and the instructions for creating it that we include in all of our embroidery pattern and kit guides.

Fly stitch stitching diagram
  • Bring needle and thread up at 1.
  • Insert to the side at 2 and back up at 3.
  • As you do this, loop working thread under needle at 3.
  • Pull the thread all the way through and pull snugly to create a “V”.
  • Insert needle back down very close to 3 to secure.
  • Taut, deep stitches will look like a “V” and looser, shorter stitches like scallops.

See 6 of my favorite fly stitch uses below.

1. Make single “U”, “V”and “Y” shapes with the fly stitch

The “U” is created with a loose stitch and a short anchor. 

The “V” is created with a tight stitch and short anchor.

The “Y” is created with a tight stitch and a long anchor.

See the “Y” as little flowers in Grow.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Grow

In Pumpkins and Owls, see “U” shapes on the wings and “V” shapes on the breast of the owl. 

Fly stitch embroidery example in Pumpkins and Owls

2. Created scalloped edging with the fly stitch

See a straight line of scallops below roof peaks on Spooky House.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Spooky House

See a curved scalloped edge (like a doily) around Tea Party.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Tea Party

3. Make a circle of “Y” shapes

See a full circle at the center of the turkey on Harvest Table.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Harvest Table

See a half circle at the bottom of Start with Coffee.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Start With Coffee

4. Fill a space with fly-stitched grid

TSee the barn shutters filled with a fly-stitched grid on Hen & Fox.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Hen and Fox

See a mountain filled with such a grid on Mountain Time.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Mountain Time

5. Embroider a line of nested fly stitches

The borders between Patchwork blocks are embroidered with navy-blue fly stitches.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Patchwork

The eaves on Cuckoo Clock are rendered with larger fly stitches.

Fly stitch embroidery example in Cuckoo Clock

6. Render the small curves in an outlined shape

Fly stitches are great for fussy little curves. I usually combine these fly stitches with the split stitch for the longer lines of an outlined curvy shape.

The tips of the Moth’s antennae are fly stitched (while the longer straight line is done with split stitch).

Fly stitch embroidery example in Moths

On To the Woods, the tight curves of the bear’s ears, fur, and feet are fly stitched. Again, the longer lines are done in split stitch.

The tips of the pine trees are also rendered with fly stitches. 

Fly stitch embroidery example in To The Woods

Embrace the fly stitch AND your crafty side with a Stitched Stories project.

Our patterns are designed to incorporate a variety of stitches–so that you have projects that engage you and make your embroidery work a mindful and satisfying activity. Click here to choose your next project.


Hop your way into the season with one of our bunny-inspired designs...

We've got hoop art, large format, and stick & stitch bunnies--everything you need to create your very own fluffle of stitched bunnies this Spring.