Learning to sew chain stitch is a great basic start to a beautiful hobby and a way to decorate all kinds of fabrics. Chain stitch is a simple and yet effective way to link other stitches together or just a standalone decorative stitch for filling and outlining.
Chain Stitch Embroidery
Chain stitch embroidery is easy and curvaceous in patterns or a wonderful filler for a design. Chain stitch has been around for centuries and was very popular with the Chinese as they decorated fine silks with delicate chain stitch designs.
How simple is chain stitch embroidery? It really is a one-two-three kind of stitch.
Looped together, the chains link with each other and you can direct their journey across your fabric for as long as you wish.
So, set your hoop up, choose your thread, and get ready to go looping chains together.
Chain Stitch Video
My basic stitches video includes the chain stitch. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly sewing and craft videos.
How to do Chain Stitch Embroidery
HOOPS – Like all embroidery, chain stitch is easiest when sewn in a hoop or frame to hold the fabric tight. This will help you get nice and even stitches and prevent any puckering of the fabric. Hoops are cheap and don’t need to be large as you can move them around on a larger piece of fabric.
FABRICS – The best fabrics for embroidery are open weave fabrics that are easy for the needle to penetrate. Try linen or an unbleached calico like my sample. Decorative embroidery used for wall hangings is often done on aida fabric which has a really open weave and threads that you can count.
NEEDLE – For most of these fabrics you will just need an embroidery needle with a large eye. Read more about types of hand sewing needles.
THREADS – For my sample I have used a 6 strand embroidery floss. This gives quite a chunky look to the chain stitch embroidery that I like. You can use less strands for finer work if you have more patience than me.
If you are new to embroidery, then have a read of my article on how to embroider for lots of suggestions on tools and basic techniques for your new hobby.
Step One: Starting
Embroidery thread is normally threaded singularly. (ie the thread is not doubled over). If you have any problem getting a thick thread through the eye of the needle, use a needle threader. This nifty little device will save you a lot of frustration.
Bring your floss up through the back of your hoop at your starting point at (1).
Leave a tail at the back to catch in later so the back is neatened beautifully. Hold the tail thread securely as you start your first chain stitch or put some tape over it. You could also tie a knot in the end for a faster alternative.
Step Two: First Stitch
Your thread is now on the right side of the fabric.
Insert the needle at point (2) which is next to the point (1) where the thread came to the front of the fabric. (It should be a separate hole).
Exit the needle at point (3) which is just in front of (1) and (2).
IMPORTANT: Wrap the thread under the tip of the needle and gently it through to the right side. This will make your first chain.
Size of Stitches – The distance of (3) from (1)(2) determines the size of the chain. If you are just doing a sample to learn how to do chain stitch embroidery, then make (3) 1/4 inch (6mm) from points (1) and (2). This will give you a large enough stitch to see what you are doing in the beginning. You can move down to really fine stitching as you gain more confidence.
Here is how it looks once the needle has exited at (3).
Step Three: Anchor and Repeat
The embroidery floss is pulled through and acts as the anchor for the next chain.
Continue to create chains as you insert the needle into the space in the previous chain next to the point where the last insert was made. Just to be clear this is next to point (3) above and inside the chain.
Wrap the floss around the needle and there is your next chain.
Look how a whole chain can be curved or straight.
Tips for Sewing Chain Stitch
- DON’T PULL – Do not pull too tightly as the chain will lose its lovely linked effect and the material will pucker.
- CONTROL – Hold each stitch gently with your thumb over the top so you can control the loop. As you practice, you will perfect the size and shape of each stitch.
- GAPS AND SIZING – Watch the gap you leave as you insert the needle to make each stitch as this determines the size of the stitch.
- UNPICKING – If you should change your mind this stitch is easy to undo and start again. The loops just unravel, and you redirect and go again.
Chain Stitch Embroidery – In Conclusion
There you have it, a simple single chain stitch that can decorate anything as a border, filling in stitch or an outliner. It drapes easily across your fabric and is easy to control.
Chain stitch is the basic stitch that can become more elaborate or intricate with many different variations. There is knotted chain, petal chain, rosetta chain, wheatear chain and zigzag chain just to whet your appetite.
The Lazy Daisy is a variation of the chain stitch that is extremely popular and best of all, easy to sew. The loops are sewn individually around a circle to form petals.
Chain stitch embroidery is a must to learn for every beginner. It will continue to be a favorite as you see its potential in so many different scenarios. Getting caught up in chain stitch will keep you ‘linked – in’ to embroidery!
MORE EMBROIDERY STITCHES
- Blanket Stitch
- Buttonhole Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Chevron Stitch
- Couching Stitch
- Cross Stitch
- Double Herringbone Stitch
- How to Embroider
- Faggoting Embroidery
- Feather Stitch
- Fern Stitch
- Fishbone Stitch
- Fly Stitch
- French Knots
- Hand Embroidery Stitches
- Herringbone Stitch
- Lazy Daisy
- Running Stitch
- Sashiko Embroidery
- Satin Stitch
- Seed Stitch Embroidery (Rice Stitch)
- Stem Stitch
- Straight Stitch
- Web Stitch | Embroidery Tutorial
- Whip Stitch