7 days of stitches: chain stitch


UPDATE: Originally I wrote this post in February 2014 as a tutorial series. However, I recently felt that it would be great to vamp this series up and add some new insights of my own, picture examples and a pinterest board to get in the mood to start stitching! So if you are reading this in 2016 and later: Hello! You are reading the better and improved version :D

Number 3 in this series of 7 basic embroidery stitches is the chain stitch. This stitch can be used as a line stitch or to fill whole areas with embroidery. You can substitute back stitch with chain stitch in most line stitching patterns easily.

Here is how it works:


Stick the needle in the same hole where the thread comes out and pull it up at one stitch length. Wrap the thread around the point of the needle and pull the needle out.


Repeat sticking the needle in where your thread comes out, pulling through the fabric from underneath, wrapping the yarn around the needle and pulling the needle out. To secure the last stitch stick the needle behind the loop of the last stitch.


The chain stitch looks like a slightly twisted back stitch on the back side.

A technique using chain stitch as basic stitch is Zalakdozi (or kashmiri) from India. The outlines and the fillings are done in colorful chain stitches with a hook, instead of a needle. It basically is crocheting on fabric.

Many artists use the chain stitch as a dominant stitch. It’s dual purpose of filling whole areas AND making a clean outline open up a lot of possibilities.

Yumiko Higuchi uses the chain stitch very often in her work. Her delicate pattern work is faszinating to look at.

Yumiko Higuchi uses the chain stitch very often in her work. Her delicate pattern work is faszinating to look at.

Izziyana Suhaimi embroidery on watercolor painting

Izziyana Suhaimi embroidery on watercolor painting

miga de pan embroidered rugs

Embroidered world map carpets by Miga de Pan – what a brilliant idea!

Two patterns of mine using the chain stitch:

horse cushion

Wait, there is more! Here are some great examples of embroidery featuring the CHAIN STITCH curated in a Pinterest board:

pinterest board chain stitch

This tutorial is part of 7 days of stitches. Take a look over here to see all the other stitches.




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