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Chain stitch - hand embroidery stitches

Chain Stitch

A chain stitch is an embroidery stitch in which a series of looped stitches form a chain-like pattern. Chain stitch is an ancient craft – examples of surviving Chinese chain stitch embroidery dates back to the 5th – 3rd century BC. 

This simple stitch has made its place on the list of the best embroidery stitches because it is so versatile. Chain stitch is great for outlining, filling, lettering, border designs, and as a part of other composite stitches, like tulip or wheatear stitch.

In addition, this stitch is very handy when embroider flowing, curvy lines. Also, you can make detached chain stitches and embroider Lazy daisy stitch flowers.

Did you know that chain stitch can be made in two different ways? You can make regular and reverse chain stitches. Try them both and choose which one is your favorite, or use them both, as sometimes it’s convenient to switch from one way to another.

Other names of the stitch

Chain stitch is also called tambour stitch and the point de chainette.

Applications of chain stitch

This embroidery stitch is versatile and widely used in hand embroidery. In modern surface embroidery, we use it for:

  • Outlines
  • Lettering
  • Border designs
  • Filling
  • As a part of composite stitches

Variations of the stitch

  • Reverse chain stitch
  • Lazy daisy stitch (detached chain stitch)
  • Twisted chain stitch
  • Tulip stitch
  • Zigzag chain stitch
  • Whipped chain stitch
  • Basque stitch
  • Rosette chain stitch
  • Petal chain stitch
  • Open chain stitch
  • Feathered chain stitch
  • Closed chain stitch
  • Heavy chain stitch
  • Hungarian chain stitch
  • Sinhalese chain stitch
  • Raised chain band
  • Butterfly chain stitch
  • Alternating twisted chain stitch
  • Cable chain stitch
  • Knotted chain stitch
  • Knotted cable chain
  • Magic chain
  • Wheatear stitch

Video tutorial

Watch a video tutorial below and learn how to embroider this outline stitch in two different ways.

What's next?

In case you need more guidance, sign up for my hand embroidery online course – “The top 10 hand embroidery stitches to learn“. This course is free and teaches all the stitches from the list of the best embroidery stitches. Besides that, a free pdf embroidery pattern download is included in the course.

Looking for some other stitch? Head to the Stitches and Techniques A-Z or Stitch library by technique part of this blog and choose the stitch you want to learn!

NB. Some of the links may take you to the EasyToMake designs blog. This is my older hand embroidery blog. While I’m dedicating all of my energy to the Practical Embroidery blog, the previous version still has a lot of great content!

Related projects

Would you like to learn this stitch while practicing? Then, check out the projects below and create something beautiful today!

Basic floral design for hand embroidery, embroidery pdf pattern with four color pallets is a quick and easy DIY embroidery project.

Use this design to embellish your t-shirts or add it to the back pocket of your jeans!

Basic hand embroidery stitches make this project approachable, even for hand embroidery beginners. And if you need some guidance – I added the links to video tutorials of each hand embroidery stitch you will need.

Rainbow star pdf pattern for hand embroidery is a colorful design to embroider onto your jean’s back pocket or a t-shirt. This filled star design will also work great for mending projects, as it can fully cover a hole or a stain.
This embroidery pattern comes with fully guided instructions.

A detailed step-by-step tutorial with photos and links to video lessons will make this embroidery project easy even for the embroidery beginner.

Rainbow star pattern
Chain stitch - hand embroidery stitches to learn for beginners

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