Chain stitch variations

There are many different types of chain stitch and the variations listed below are a personal choice and not a comprehensive list of every variation possible.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you feel that a variation not described below should be included.

lazy-daisy-stitch (21K)

Lazy daisy stitch

To a lot of little girls in the 1950s and 60s this was the stitch, that once mastered, allowed us to stitch flowers on whatever took our fancy.

Even today, when on the telephone, I often realise that I have been doodling lazy daisy stitches on the telephone message pad. I am sure I am not alone in this.

If you look at the tablecloth motif, left, you will see how versatile it is, used as it is in this motif, in various sizes and colour combinations. The only other stitches used are stem stitch, feather stitch and french knots which are described on other pages on this web site.

How to Stitch Lazy Daisy

Lazy Daisy

This stitch is also known as detached chain stitch and is most frequently used to produce the effect of flower petals.

To stitch this, bring needle out at A and then insert back into the same hole leaving a loop of thread on the right side of the fabric. Bring needle back up again and come back up again at B, carrying thread under the point of your needle. Then pull thread through. Insert needle at C over the loop and anchor it with a small stitch. Bring the needle up again at A to make the next looped stitch until the flower petals are all completed.

You can also scatter individual stitches about your embroidery but try not to carry your thread too far across the back. Traditionally this stitch was used in the decoration of tray cloths and tablecloths; both items that went through a lot of washes, hence the need to anchor stitches firmly at the reverse of the fabric.

The stitch can also be used in more creative ways. Carol Leather has written a tutorial on how to stitch a lazy daisy stitch strawberry which gives a very different effect to the traditional flower.


Basic Chain Stitch

Chain Stitch

A lovely stitch to use, chain stitch is often used as an outlining stitch and does not have to be stitched in a straight line but can be stitched on a curve.

As per the illustration bring the needle up at A and leaving a loop on the outside of your fabric, insert the needle back through A. Next bring your needle up at B which becomes the new A for the next chain. Try to keep the links the same size.

To finish a row, make a small holding or couching stitch at the apex of the loop of the last chain, to anchor it to your fabric.

If you look at the roses either side of the lady below you will see that they are stitched in basic chain stitch that makes a circle rather than a straight or curved line.

chain-stitch-roses (25K)

Chain Stitch 2


Zig Zag Chain Stitch

The chains in this variation do not do not follow each other in a straight line but alternate to give a zig zag pattern. Work the first stitch as a basic chain stitch but slant it slightly as per the illustration.

zig-zag-chain-stitch (13K)

Thread comes up at point A for the next stitch. Put the needle into B to pierce the loop, anchor it, and come up again at C. Carry the thread under the point of the needle, then pull thread through. When proceeding remember to always pierce the loop and keep the angle of stitches the same.

When finishing, make a small stitch over the last chain in the loop to fix it to the fabric.

Square Chain Stitch

This is otherwise known as Ladder Stitch and can be used as an outline stitch.

To make it more decorative a ribbon or contrasting colour thread can be threaded through the ladder.

square-chain-stitch (13K)

The stitch is worked between two parallel lines. Starting on the left line, bring needle up at A. Insert your needle at B at the same point of the right hand line and come up again at C. Carry thread under the end of the needle and pull thread through. Leave enough slack in the resulting stitch so that the needle can be inserted inside it to form the next stitch.

square-chain-stitch-01 (9K) square-chain-stitch-02 (9K)

To finish, anchor the last chain by taking a small couching stitch over the left side of the loop – then repeat on the right hand side.

Feathered Chain Stitch

Frequently used as a border stitch this also uses parallel lines. It has the look of vines.

feathered-chain-stitch (13K)

Start on the one side and put in slanted chain stitch. Then insert needle at C, bringing it up again at D, keeping B and D at the same height. Then work down the lines and anchor last chain with a small stitch.

feathered-chain-stitch-01 (10K) feathered-chain-stitch-02 (12K)

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