How-To: Chain Stitch

by Jenny Hart

You will never work a chain stitch the same way again.
 I haven't. 
The "chain stitch" is the one everyone has heard of, but hates to do. Why? Because it's laborious. It doesn't always come out nicely and it uses up a lot of floss. But, chain stitches create a nice thick, textured line. It's one of the most embroidery-ish embroidery stitches there is. This technique will guarantee they always come out perfectly. Bold claim? You'll see...
 
A student in one of my classes pulled me aside and said, almost guiltily: "do you want to see how I work chain stitches?" My jaw dropped. So has the jaw of every other person I've shared this with since then. I told her I'd love to share it with my readers and she gave her blessing! This is her chain stitch technique:



Step 1: Make a small stitch. Not too big, not too little. Not pulled too tight.



Step 2: Come up a short distance away from the end of the stitch, and pass the tip of your needle through it. 




Step 3: Pull your floss all the way through.

 



Step 4:
 Re-insert your needle into the same hole that your floss exited (left photo). Pull all the way through (right photo). 


(All by itself, this is called an "isolated chain stitch".) What next?

 

Step 5: Repeat! Pass needle through the last loop, pull the floss all the way through, re-enter your needle, pull all the way through...and make chain stitches all day long:

 


HOLD UP. Did you notice these are upside down? That's right. All we're doing is working the chain stitches in reverse. You start off with what would normally be your last stitch: the final one to tack down the last loop. Of course, you can work them in any direction according to how you want them to appear on your pattern (just turn your hoop, silly).

I will never do the wrap-around-the-tip-of-your-needle-sewing-technique-push-and-pray way again. You can't make me.


More Questions?

Are there other ways to work a chain stitch? Oh yes, there are numerous ways to execute a chain stitch. There are multiple variations and combinations. I go over them in my book, Embroidered Effects.

What floss colors did you use here? Sublime Floss in Flowerbox!

How many strands are shown here? In the photo above, all six strands are used except for the last two rows on the far right. The pink and orange are worked in three strands.

What fabric are you stitching on here? It's the same fabric used to make our tea towels, demi towels, aprons, and these pillow covers!

Maybe you're ready for my book? I have several other methods for chain stitching in it! Or maybe you still need to learn basic stitches first?

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Text, photos, diagrams and instructions by Jenny Hart ♥ © 2002 - 2014 Sublime Stitching ®. All Rights Reserved.
 No part of this tutorial may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from its author. 
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