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CHAIN STITCH Guide: 20 Variations and How to Stitch

Step-by-step instructions on how to stitch the Chain stitch - explore its variations like Twisted, Knotted and detached, backstitched, open and chequered chain stitch to create more intricate designs.
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Chain stitch, which is one of the most frequently used embroidery stitches, is a loop stitch; It is also known by names like Tambour stitch and Point de chainette.

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This simple stitch is used for outlining as well as for filling. You can use this stitch as a base to create other stitch styles in many different ways.

A loop stitch involves pulling the thread tight after taking the thread under the needle. It can be worked in many different beautiful variations.

You can use any type of embroidery thread to work this stitch. The main considerations are the stitch’s size and the fabric’s weight.

One thing you must remember when you sew the chain stitch is to keep the stitches identical in size.

How to stitch a Chain stitch

Step 1.
The stitch is worked from below to upwards. Bring up the needle at the start of the line.

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Step 2

Put the needle back in the same hole it just came through; bring it up a small distance above it. Keep the thread under the needle when bringing up so that a loop is formed.
Remember to pull the needle gently.

Step 3

Repeat making these stitches, always ensuring that you are inserting the needle into the same hole from which the needle came up previously.

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Chain Stitch- Variations


Chain Stitch (Detached)

This stitch is also known by the names Lazy Daisy stitch or Daisy stitch. This is a standalone chain stitch. You can use this stitch in many ways: leaves, grass, flowers, etc.  

Checkout this post on 8 ways to make flowers with lazy daisy stitch

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Detached chain-stitch

Chequered Chain stitch

Chequered chain stitch is made by using two threads of different and contrasting colors. 

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Open Chain Stitch

(Open chain stitch is also known as Ladder Stitch, Roman Chain Stitch, and Square Chain Stitch).

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Check out the tutorial to sew the Ladder stitch here.

Cable chain stitch

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Cable stitch, as the name suggests, has a small cable connection between the loops formed by twisting of thread in between the chain stitches. When finished, it looks like a replica of a cable chain.

Barred Chain stitch

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After making a single chain stitch insert the needle for the next one some 3-4 thread away from the tip of the first chain stitch. Come back up on the line of the chain stitch.

Loop the thread as shown in the picture. Now you will have a chain stitch with a projection. Continue making these stitches. 

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Alternating Barred stitch

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This is the same way as the previous stitch, just that every alternate stitch will be done to the other side resulting in projections to either side of the stitching line. 

Whipped chain stitch

Whipped stitch is used as an outline stitch where you want a bold and thick line. Whipped stitches are made on the chain-stitched line. The whipped stitches can be done with a thicker thread than used for the chain stitch loop.

You can make different versions of this stitch, like where you make two whipping stitches in the same loop in opposite directions so that the line is thicker.

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Step 1
Make a line of chain stitches
Step 2
Whip over this line with the same color thread or a different color thread with a thicker and blunt needle (do not pierce the fabric when doing the whip stitches, just go under and over the thread). Make sure that the whip stitches are at the junction of each chain stitch.

Chain stitch – Back stitched

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This stitch is used when you need a thick outline. A line of back stitch is done in the middle of the chain stitch with a same colored or contrasting thread.
Step 1.
Make a line of chain stitches.
Step 2.
Make a line of back stitch from right to left along the center of the loops.

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Twisted Chain stitch

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The chain stitches are done to the left side of the stitching line which gives this line an attractive appearance.The stitches are made consistently small which makes this textured looking.
This stitch is always worked downwards.

Step 1.

Insert the needle in the stitching line and bring out the needle slightly to the right in front ( not on the stitching line).

Keep the thread on the left side of the needle.

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Step 2.

Wrap the thread on needle from left to right, from under the needle.

Continue making chain stitch downwards, left side to the stitching line as in the picture. 

When you continue doing this, a twist is formed on the stitching line, which looks very attractive.

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Heavy Braid chain stitch

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This gives you a very thick outline stitch

Step 1
Make a small straight stitch

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Step 2.
Bring the needle back through the fabric a little further down the line.

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Author: Sarina Tariq
Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.
5 thoughts on “CHAIN STITCH Guide: 20 Variations and How to Stitch”
  1. Suman

    Ooh wow … finally found a website with all embroidery details all at once
    But ..one question do it also have an option for *crochet* also
    With all basics to variation and pro level stich of crochet.. need
    help. In finding out

    Reply
  2. Ken
    For class I must cover a very large background, any recommendations for which stitch I should use? Reply
    • Sarina

      Hi Ken
      Can you check out this post on background stitches – best stitches to cover large areas; if you are asking about chain stitch, open chain stitch can be used -otherwise chain stitch is a thin line of a stitch to cover large areas.

  3. Linda Romero Criswell
    May I have your email? I have a fascinating chain stitch variation on a dress and would love to know how to replicate it. I would send you a photo. Thanks! Reply
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