The Chain Stitch


The chain stitch is a pretty stitch that has the look of, obviously, a chain. I use it to make lines, stems, borders, etc. It is easier to make a straight chain, but a curving chain (or a change of direction at a corner) can be achieved with a little practice.

This tutorial follows The Stem Stitch, posted last week. Both can be found here in a pdf format, that includes schemas explaining the steps (in English and in French). I hope it will be useful to you.


My Attitude About Embroidery: I will not tell you what is the right or the wrong way of doing stitches. I am not an expert embroider and do not pretend to be a master in this trade. I make embroidery for the pleasure of doing it, the gesture of passing a needle through fiber and seeing a motif taking form gradually. I am not seeking perfection and never expect it from others. My only wish is that you can also enjoy stitching! ☺


I like to work this stitch from right to left (I am right handed). I usually work with two strands of thread, but more than two can be used for a ticker result. First, I draw the motif I wish to stitch with a pencil (a straight or curving line). Then, I make the smallest possible knot at one end of the thread. I am now ready to start.

Note 1:  if I do not want the knot to show on the back, if I am embroidering an already quilted quilt for example, I use the hand-quilting method to start and finish the thread.

Note 2: with the chain stitch, we stitch directly on the line and we insert the needle twice at the same place.

Note 3: if you want to undo one loop, you may have to undo all the way to the beginning of your thread (where the knot is). When you undo the chain stitch, it’s hard to stop without changing the shape of the remaining loops.

  1. Insert the needle into the fabric, from the back, on the right tip of your drawn line (number 1 on the schema A in the pdf version you can find here ) and  bring it out of the front. Pull on the thread (toward the ceiling) all the way through, until the knot stops you.
  2. Place your yarn to form a loop on the left side of number 1 (schema B in the pdf version). The yarn should be laying on your fabric and go from the hole at number 1, above the line, over the line and below the line. The yarn is now at the right place to form the first loop in your chain.
  3. Insert the needle into the fabric, from the front to the back, at number 1 again (schema C, pdf version) and, in the same movement, bring the tip of the needle out (from the back to the front) at number 2, inside the loop, i.e. the thread placed at step 2 is left to where the needle came out of the fabric.
  4. Then pull the needle out of the fabric and slowly pull on the thread. When you reach the end of the thread, be caution. You must keep a loop (schema D, pdf version). If you pull too hard, you will loose it. With practice, you will know when to stop pulling on the thread.
  5. Insert the needle into the fabric, from the front to the back, at number 2 again (schema E, pdf version) and, in the same movement, bring the tip of the needle out (from the back to the front) at number 3. Then pull the needle out of the fabric and pull on the thread until you form a loop similar in size to the one you have previously made. Don’t worry if your loops are not identical. This will come with practice.
  6. Repeat until you reach the end of your drawn line (number 7 on schema F, pdf version). Insert the needle at number 7 again, but on the left side of the last loop, to secure it into place. Go from the front to the back and pull on the thread from the back. You can secure the loose end of your thread by going through the threads on the back, without punching the fabric with the needle. Cut the thread. Voilà!

The Chain Stitch - tutorial at

2 thoughts on “The Chain Stitch

  1. France this is fantastic! Thanks so much for teaching me embroidery one stitch at a time. Your diagrams are just Fantastic and make the stitches seem easy… Hugs, Karen

    • Hi! I’m so glad you like them. I have a lot of fun doing those diagrams. Reading that you find they make the stitches seem easy is the best of compliments!

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