Embroidery 101: Running Stitch + Ombre Summer Scarf

I’ve really enjoyed getting to delve deeper into specific craft skills this year, and this month we’re keeping things going with an Embroidery guest series by Jessica Marquez of Miniature Rhino. Over the next four weeks, Jessica will be teaching us an embroidery stitch and a DIY project you can complete with that stitch. We’ll be learning to do a backstitch, satin stitch and French knot, but today we’re starting with the running stitch. The running stitch is a simple but beautiful stitch that is the base for a huge range of sewing projects, including (but not limited to) hand-quilting, mending clothes and embellishing fabrics with decorative details. Today Jessica is using the running stitch to make a simple summer scarf that you can make over the weekend. I hope you’ll enjoy the how-to and stay tuned for next week’s embroidery project! xo, grace

About Jessica: Jessica Marquez is the California-raised, Brooklyn-based maker behind Miniature Rhino. She recently released her first book, Stitched Gifts: 25 Simple and Sweet Embroidery Projects for Every Occasion with Chronicle Books. She teaches embroidery at Purl Soho, Squam Art Workshops and The Brooklyn Craft Camp. She is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Imaging Arts. You can find more of her work at her blog and Etsy shop.

The full how-to continues after the jump…


-1 yard of 60 inch width light-weight jersey cotton in off-white or cream
-1 yard of 60 inch width light-weight jersey cotton in navy blue

-Embroidery Thread

(Jessica used, from darkest to lightest: DMC823, DMC336, DMC312, DMC334, DMC3352, DMC3841, DMC775, DMC3756, [ ], DMC3865)

-Shashiko needle (or any long skinny needle)
-Sewing pins or sewing thread (to baste)
-Rotary blade
-Self healing mat
-Dressmakers chalk (or water-soluble pen if you’re using two light fabrics)


1. Cut both pieces of fabric (navy blue and off-white) to be 10″ (by 60″).

*Trim the selvedge edge of the fabric if needed

2. Baste the two pieces together (or pin) using sewing thread.

3. Using dressmakers chalk, mark vertical lines (1 centimeter apart) from the top to the bottom of the fabric (starting 1 centimeter in from the edge). If you’re using two lighter colored fabrics, you can use water-soluble pen to mark these lines).

*Be careful not to handle your fabric too much or the chalk lines will rub off.

4. For each of the 10 colors, you’ll need to cut a piece of thread that is the full length of the finished scarf. But in order to keep them organized, only cut one piece at a time. (It can be hard to distinguish colors when you get into the lighter hues).

*Optional: Jessica likes a delicate line, so she removed 2 of the 6 strands from each piece of thread. You can leave the thread as-is or remove two strands if you want the more delicate line, too.

5. Starting with the first color (your darkest thread), tie a knot at the bottom left hand side of the scarf. You’ll be working from lightest to darkest, left to right and up and down.

6. Following the chalk or pen lines, use a running stitch, stitch from one end of the scarf to the other and end with another knot. Be sure to keep both the stitch length and the distance between stitches as consistent as you can.

*Traditional Sashiko embroidery involves gathering 3-4 stitches on your needle at a time and then pulling through. This will save time and help you finish your project more quickly. Jessica used a 2 inch needle and was able to fit close to 10 stitches on her needle at a time. To see this technique in action, watch this clip.

7. Repeat the previous two steps with the rest of the thread, going from darkest to lightest.

*Note: Be sure to (gently) smooth the fabric and tug on the thread as you go, as it will want to bunch as you continue to sew. This will help the stitches lay flat.

8. You’re finished! Enjoy your new ombre scarf.

*Note: For this scarf, Jessica made the off-white fabric 1 inch larger than the navy blue fabric. This allowed the natural curl of the jersey fabric to act as a “border” around the blue. If you want the same look, just cut the white fabric to be 11 inches wide and the navy blue to be 10 inches wide.

  1. pamela says:

    What a fun project. Love the effect of the different color threads. Reminds me of Shibori.

  2. Alicia says:

    What a clever project. I really like this and thank you for showing us what to do. I think that I’d like to make one but perhaps using deep pink in stead of navy blue and then working my way to white. Wow..lots of ideas here. Thank you!

  3. Faith says:

    Beautiful! Now if only I had the time and patience to make one!


  4. Emily says:

    This scarf looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it out. :)

  5. Hannah says:

    This is amazing! I might try it with a blanket and black and white/grey. Can never have enough blankets on a chilly evening…!

  6. This looks so Japanese. I love it. very well done:)

  7. Allison W says:

    This is gorgeous! I, too, would love to turn this into a blanket!

  8. Jen says:

    This is very pretty, but the unfinished edges are not terribly practical in terms of having this scarf around long-term and being able to launder it periodically…

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      Yes, you’ll need to hand wash it to prevent from too much curling. But other than that (and maybe I’m weird but I don’t wash my scarves really often) it should hold up just fine to normal use. The material isn’t going to fray, just curl more. So if hand-washing once a month (which I do with my delicates anyway) isn’t in someone’s schedule it’s probably not the scarf for them.


  9. Mel says:

    How many rows of each coloured thread?

  10. Angela says:

    Love this modern interpretation of sashiko. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Malia says:

    How fun. Excited about these embroidery tutorials! (By the way, the needle name on the materials list has an extra H…)

  12. I love this modern interpretation of sashiko. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Oh wow! How gorgeous! Now I know what to do with all the embroidery thread I’ve had stashed away since my friendship bracelet making days. I’m really into blue and white this spring. That scarf would look cute with a pair a red jeans. I might start it this weekend.

  14. Hi everyone! So happy to be sharing some embroidery skills and this project series with you guys! I proudly wore my scarf today, got compliments and love it.

    There are a total of 25 rows of stitching. For each color I alternated between 3 and 2 rows so it would add up to 25 rows. Starting with the first color I did three rows, next color, two rows, etc. You really could do any combination that adds up to the number of rows you want.

    Also, the darkest color is DMC 939.

  15. Wow, it looks amazing. I’ve been starting up with my stitching to try and make some clothes. I refuse to shop in clothes stores where a shirt and a pair of pants can set you back by £100. It’s ridiculous – so I have been making my own items, and shopping in cheap Charity Shops. Quite a vintage/smart casual look. This scarf would help that a great deal!

  16. Anna says:

    Great, Fabulous, Fantastic to see embroidery back in vogue! Thanks Jessica and

  17. Jennifer says:

    Perfect spring scarf! Looking forward to putting down the knitting needles and doing a bit of sewing. This will be a great project to break out with my kids, thanks Jessica!

  18. Madeline says:

    This is a fabulous project, perfect for gift giving (and myself). Actually you don’t really have to use a thread which is the whole length of the project if you find working with that much thread daunting, you can carefully go between the two layers, tie off the one piece of thread then start another.

  19. jane says:

    It looks stunning, thank you!

  20. Tara says:

    You can also put the knot between the two layers to begin. Then add a rolled hem at the bottom or any hem you like to make it a bit more sturdy.

  21. Frances says:

    Lovely project, the light weight jersey is perfect for summer evenings. I did not know Jessica or Miniature Rhino and am so happy you introduced them. What a stunning book and her blog is just as cool.

  22. This is a great project!

  23. Kristy says:

    Love, love, love this idea! Definitely going to give it a go.

  24. KJ says:

    Love the scarf! Why do you need to buy a whole yard when you are cutting down to 10 inches?

  25. Ingrid says:

    I am making one with half a yard of 60 inch jersey. Just one layer.

  26. lisa says:

    Just happened to see this on One Pretty Thing today. Love it! I’m thinking I might try to alter your idea and use the sewing machine to do the stitching because I’m lazy :)


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