The stitches in this family is usually used to make outlines for a design or pattern.

hand embroidery sample : stem stitch family

The Stem stitch family can be called the cousins of Back stitch family. This is because, stem stitch family follows a pattern where you put the needle in and take a backward motion to bring the needle out and make a single stitch. The interesting thing to note is that the reverse side/ underside of a stem stitch family will produce a backstitch!  

We have to note that, the outline stitch resembles in procedure and looks with the stem stitch. The difference between both is subtle. Visually, in the stem stitch, the gap between each stitch is evident slightly, while it is not in an outline stitch. When it comes to the procedure, the stem stitch follows a pattern where the needle comes out from the right side or the top of the previous stitch, while in an outline stitch, it comes out from the left or bottom of the previous stitch. When we incorporate both stem and outline stitch procedures alternately, we get a new stitch called cable stitch. I felt the need to describe this difference here, so that the learners can pay attention to the logics of these stitches that make them unique. 🙂