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What Is a Chain Stitch?

Chain stitches are a vital part of many crochet patterns.
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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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A chain stitch is a basic stitch common in crochet, embroidering, lacemaking, and other decorative arts. The term comes from the similarity of the stitch to a chain link pattern. Learning to make a chain stitch is relatively easy for even the novice craftsperson. Its looped design can be helpful when forming leaves, flowers, or any curved or sinuous shape.

To make an embroidered chain stitch, basic requirements are a needle, base fabric, and thread, yarn, or ribbon. This process may be facilitated by using an embroidery hoop or frame to stabilize the fabric. In addition to keeping the fabric flat and taut, an embroidery frame can also prevent thread from going places accidentally; many a hoop-less embroiderer has stitched embroidery to his or her pants by mistake.

For an embroidered chain stitch, the steps are as follows:

For those who prefer visual references, most embroidery or basic sewing books can provide illustrated examples of each step and the finished product. Video descriptions are also available online, and may be extremely helpful to watch. By seeing each step performed perfectly, a new embroiderer can get a feel for the size of the stitch needed and the precision of each step.

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Crochet chain stitches will look much the same, but are accomplished using crochet needles and yarn as materials. Unlike embroidery, crochet does not usually use a base fabric; instead, the yarn becomes the fabric as it is stitched together during the crocheting process. Chain stitches in crochet are one of the most basic techniques, and may serve as an introduction to many more complicated techniques.

A chain stitch in crochet follows this pattern:

Whether used for embroidery or crochet, chain stitches are a vital part of the vocabulary for both crafts. Easy to master, the chain stitch can be helpful in creating curvy designs or strong, crocheted blankets. Mastering chain stitching is an important part of both crafts, and should be practiced to increase skill and muscle memory.

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