Butterfly Chain Stitch embroidery

Butterfly Chain Stitch

The Butterfly Chain Stitch is a composite hand embroidery technique combining a Straight Stitch with a Twisted Chain stitch to form a decorative band.

Applications of the Butterfly Chain Stitch

This decorative hand embroidery stitch is excellent for decorative borders and bands. You can easily embroider Butterfly Chain Stitch on straight lines and curves and make angles.

Besides that, you can combine the rows of Butterfly Chain stitches to create interesting surface filling.

Butterfly Chain stitch front side
Butterfly Chain stitch -front side
Butterfly Chain stitch back side
Back side of the stitch

Traditionally, a foundation row comprises groups of three vertical straight stitches. However, you can vary their scale and color. For example, make the middle straight stitch longer than side two or use a bright contrasting color.

The thread you use to tie the foundation straight stitches together can be of heavier weight or a different color or structure. You can even use a ribbon, metallic thread, or a fine cord.

Mixing all the design possibilities and options, this stitch is highly versatile.

Learn how to embroider Butterfly Chain Stitch

Follow the step-by-step tutorial with detailed photos below, and you will learn the Butterfly Chain Stitch quickly. If you are a visual learner, watch a video lesson in the tutorial or on the Practical Embroidery YouTube channel to learn this hand embroidery stitch faster.

Butterfly Chain Stitch

How to embroider Butterfly Chain Stitch

Step-by-step hand embroidery tutorial


1. To start the stitch, mark two parallel lines to define the band.

Mark two parallel lines to define the band

2. Fill the band with a series of three Straight stitches evenly spaced across the band. The space between the groups of stitches should be of similar width as the area covered by the three stitches.

Series of three straight stitches

3. Bring up the needle with a thread in the middle of the width of the band on the right side. To tie each group of Straight stitches, make a Twisted Chain stitch. Pass the needle under the bundle of Straight stitches (not through the fabric).

Pass the needle under the bundle of Straight stitches

4. Loop the thread around the needle, and then pull the needle to form a twisted chain.

Loop the thread around the needle

5. Pull all the thread and adjust the tension before you move to the next group of three straight stitches.

Pull all the thread

6. Make the next Twisted Chain stitch. Remember not to pierce the fabric.

Make the next Twisted Chain stitch

7. Continue in this manner along the line.

8. After the last group of Straight stitches is tied, take the needle down to the back of the fabric and secure the thread.

Last group of Straight stitches is tied

Video tutorial

Tools and materials I used for this sampler

Disclaimer. To cover the cost of creating free embroidery patterns and video tutorials for this blog, I do sometimes link to products. Please assume these links are affiliate links. If you choose to buy through my links then THANK YOU – it will make it possible for me to keep doing this.

Embroidery fabric cotton linen neutral colors Etsy
Embroidery fabric
DMC Pearl Cotton #8 thread on Etsy
DMC Pearl Cotton #8
Beechwood embroidery hoops Etsy
Embroidery hoop
Bohin Embroidery Needles Etsy
Bohin Embroidery Needles
Embroidery Scissors Etsy
Embroidery Scissors

What’s next?

If you’re in the mood to explore more hand embroidery stitches, check out the Stitches and Techniques page for the list of other fantastic stitches available on my blog. From timeless classics to modern twists, a whole world of stitches is waiting for you to explore and master. So, grab your hoop and needle, and let’s stitch our way to creative bliss!

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Need More Guidance?

The top 10 hand embroidery stitches to learn is a free online course created for beginners.

White sashiko stitches on purple fabric