Thursday, November 22, 2012

Exploring Chain Stitch Variations

Exploring with &Stitches

Chain Stitch Variations Sampler

Last week, we looked at some really great examples of chain stitch and the many ways it can be used. But chain stitch doesn't stop there!

There are a few stitches that have variations on their simplest and most familiar form. Of course any stitch can be made to look drastically different by changing stitch length, thread type, or number of strands, but some stitches are great bases for adjusting or adding flourishes to, creating a whole new look. Chain stitch has many, many variations; I've stitched up a little sampler to illustrate just a small selection of what's possible!

Chain Stitch Variations Sampler

From right to left, these variations are:

1.) Threaded Chain Stitch. This is done by stitching a row of detached chain stitches, evenly spaced, then weaving a second thread under and around them.

2.) Open Chain Stitch. Instead of bringing the needle up and down through the fabric at the same place, space between them creates a wide, ladder-like chain stitch.

3.) Checkered or Magic Chain Stitch. This stitch really is magic! Working with two colors threaded into the same needle, wrap only one color around the needle at a time, alternating colors, and this happens! You really have to try it out to see it happen for yourself.

4.) Back Stitched Chain Stitch. Just as it sounds, this is a row of back stitch worked over a row of standard chain stitch.

5.) Twisted Chain Stitch. Nice for curves, this one is done by crossing the thread and creating a twist as you pull the needle across your fabric.

6.) Feathered Chain Stitch. This variation is pretty much exactly as it looks - these are detached chain stitches with a long tacking stitch, crossed to create a zig-zag effect.

7.) Whipped Chain Stitch. Like the back stitched chain stitch, this is worked over an ordinary row of chain stitch, with a contrasting color wrapped around the chains.

8.) Rosette Chain Stitch. This is the most complicated of these variations. It is basically twisted chain stitch, but worked perpendicular to the line you are following. The working thread is then passed under the first part of the stitch to get into position for the next stitch.

Chain Stitch Variations Sampler

It's hard to believe these are all the same stitch underneath it all, they create such wildly different effects. And there's so many more variations than just these! Any good stitch dictionary should show you the possibilities - grab one and get playing!

Julie is a knitter and stitcher, born in the US but now living in the UK. She loves vintage embroidery books and bad slasher movies. With her mum, Julie designs embroidery patterns inspired by literature under the name Little Dorrit & Co.



  1. Really lovely stitches ~ I love your blog and all the inspiration!

  2. It's so nice to see all these variations together. My fave is the rosette chain stitch.


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