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Knowing how to make chain stitch is a basic in embroidery. They can be used to make borders, add visual interest to projects as an alternative to fully filling in shapes and you can combine them to make the super fun lazy daisy stitch.
What is the Chain Stitch?
Chain stitch is a common embroidery technique that makes little teardrop shaped designs on your fabric. They look like flower petals, which is why they are commonly used to make flowers, but making a bunch of chain stitches in a line does evoke the links of a chain because the stitches are joined together.
Chain stitches can be worked in a straight line, or made into a circle, a zig-zag or pretty much any kind of line-type shape you want to make.
Chains stitch is sort of a variation on back stitching, but the key difference is that the thread is looped around the needle as you make the stitch.
How to Make Chain Stitch
To begin, let’s look at how to make a single chain stitch and how to join them together. Start with some embroidery floss threaded on a needle. I’m just using some random woven fabric that I think might be cross stitch linen, but I’m not totally sure. You can use any fabric you have on hand.
Tie a knot at the end of your thread. Bring your needle through the fabric from back to front where you want your chain stitch to start.
Pierce the fabric near where you just came up again, then bring the needle back to the front of the work where you want the end of your stitch to be.
As you pull the needle through, make sure your needle is looped through the thread as shown.
When you’ve pulled all the thread through you’ll have a little teardrop shape on your fabric. If you just want to do one chain stitch, take the needle back through the fabric from front to back close to where your last stitch was made.
If you want to make chain stitch in a chain, when you’re finishing the stitch, instead of taking the needle to the back of the work, just pierce the fabric to lock in the chain you just made and bring the needle to the front where you want your next chain to end, as before.
Again make sure you wrap the thread around the needle to make the stitch.
Repeat as many times as you want.
When you’re ready to stop, stitch from front to back at the top of the last chain stitch, close to where you came out to make the stitch.
Tie a knot in the thread at the back and trim any excess.
Twisted Chain Stitch
You can also make a twisted chain stitch, deliberately or accidentally. Here I did it accidentally by twisting the thread as I made the stitch.
If you don’t want a twist just slide the thread off the needle without pulling any tighter, untwist the stitch, slide it back on the needle and continue.
You can deliberately twist your chains by twisting the thread as you make the stitch, or you can twist them by hand like we just untwisted that one.
You can combine twisted and untwisted stitches in the same chain for an interesting look.
In orange these kind of look like little fish.
Lazy Daisy or Daisy Chain Stitch
If you don’t want to work your chains along a line, you can also use them to make flower shapes. You’ll usually see this called lazy daisy stitch or daisy chain stitch, but it’s just chain stitches worked a different way.
You start your first chain exactly the same way as we did a single chain before.
This time you want to start all your chains in basically the same place, so once you’ve tacked down the first stitch, bring your needle back up at the beginning point of your first chain and repeat, making your stitch point a different direction.
Keep going until you have as many petals as you like.
My stitching style is pretty intuitive and organic (read: messy) so I should really call it crazy daisy stitch!
Combine lazy daisy stitch embroidery with French knots and you’ve got a flower with even more personality.
When you know how to make chain stitch you’ll begin to find all sorts of ways to use it. You can also try other variations like using lots of single chains to decorate a design, making stitches in your chain different lengths or stacking them next to each other instead of end to end. Grab some fabric and give it a try!