Chain Stitch Embroidery: Complete Step-by-step Guide

Get a deeper understanding of chain stitch embroidery variations, how to do it, and different chain stitch machines.

If you are an embroiderer, there is a high possibility that you will be interested in knowing chain stitch embroidery.

Created like loops, embroidery chain stitches can do everything from bold lines to simple curlicues. This chain stitch embroidery can be used as an outline for another shape.

Chain stitch embroidery is an effective way to connect stitches or separate decorative stitches for outlining and filling.

If you like to make decorative embroidery, then you must know chain stitch variations. Many chain stitch variations are available, and choosing the right one for your DIY project can be difficult. 

Not sure where to find information on each variation? No worries. 

In this article, we have prepared everything you need to know about chain stitch embroidery. From the history of chain stitch and how-to-do tutorials to chain stitch variations and embroidery machines, you will find everything.

Let’s explore chain stitch embroidery. 

What is a Chain Embroidery Stitch?

Chain stitch embroidery stitch is one of the oldest and most popular embroidery stitches. These stitches have been around for centuries. It is also known as Point de Chainette or Tambour stitch. 

You can see its uses in Iranian Resht work, Kashmiri numdah, Hungarian Kalotaszeg, Jacobean embroidery crewelwork, and Central Asian Suzani. It can be an easy stitch for the curves or an excellent filler for a design.

Chain stitch as fill on boat
Image Source: Tuesday Stitches

Chain stitch in embroidery was popular among Chinese people. They used this versatile needlepoint embroidery technique and stitched it to decorate fine silks with stunning chain stitch embroidery designs. 

Chain stitch embroidery was used in the past to replace more secure stitches. 

It is a unique kind of stitch that is looped together to produce thick embroidery lines. The complicated look of a chain link embroidery stitch may scare beginner embroiderers. It can be used as both a filling stitch and an outline stitch.

This simple stitch is basically used to create designs of flowers and flower petals. Some sewers use a fill stitch for petals, but chain stitch can be used for this as well. After creating flower designs, you can fill the flower’s center with French knots. 

The chain stitch embroidery is simple and easy to make. All other chain stitch embroidery variations are used for filling, motifs, and outlines.

If you want to make smaller chain stitch embroidery font, then you should decrease the chain stitch length. 

Step-by-step Tutorial on How to Do a Chain Stitch Embroidery

If you are new to embroidery, then get an understanding from our detailed articles on,

Chain stitch is one of the best-known stitches that has been a member of the looped stitch category. As an embroiderer, you can learn how to chain stitch embroidery along with other basic embroidery stitches and use it to decorate your embroidery items. Simply by increasing and decreasing the strands, you can do bolder or finer work respectively.

Chain stitching vintage shirt
Image Source: Antique Archaeology 

Once you master the basic chain stitch embroidery step by step, you can try your hands on different variations of chain stitch embroidery. 

Grab your embroidery kit, and choose your embroidery fabric and an embroidery needle to start looping chains together. 

What You’ll Need

The following embroidery supplies you will need to start your journey on the chain stitch embroidery tutorial.

Assorted buttons and thread
Image Source: Suzy Hazelwood On Pexels

    • Embroidery needle (size between one to five)
    • A small square of cotton fabric
    • Small sharp scissors
    • Embroidery hoop
    • Pencil
    • Ruler
    • Embroidery floss 

Step for Learning How to Do an Embroidery Chain Stitch

Follow the steps to make an amazing, basic chain stitch embroidery at home: 

    1. The first step of learning how to do chain stitch embroidery is to secure your embroidery thread on the back of the work. Now bring your embroidery needle from the fabric and push the needle from the back by keeping some millimeters on the right of the thread to form a loop. Make sure you do not pull out the needle.
    2. Keep the loop on a surface and bring up the needle below the top center of the looped thread. Now pull out the thread via fabric and create a curved chain stitch while keeping it flat on the fabric. Make sure you consider the length you want your finish chain to be.

Chain stitch embroidery
Image Source: Embroidery for Beginners 

      3. Take out your needle from the fabric bottom and keep a few millimeters on the right of your previous stitch. Do not pull out the entire thread from the fabric, as you have to make another chain using that one.

      4. The last step of the embroidery chain stitch tutorial is to bring up the needlepoint from below the loop’s top center to create a second chain stitch. Consider the same length to form a clean and neat chain stitch. Make a small vertical stitch on the last chain to tie it and finish this tutorial.

18 Variations of Chain Stitch Embroidery

Now that you know about basic chain stitch embroidery and how to guide and customize chain stitch embroidery letters, it’s time to understand different variations of chain stitch embroidery. This basic stitch comes in numerous variations and we’ll explain to you the most popular of them.

Embroidery chain stitch
Image Source: Pumora

The chain stitch embroidery is versatile and takes less time to finish. The thick and textured chain loop stitch embroidery is perfect when you want to work around the edges or need to fill up embroidery patterns. 

Do you know there are so many open chain stitch embroidery variations available? If not, we have got your back. 

For this section, we have browsed through the internet to bring you different chain stitch embroidery variations. The best thing about these variations is that they just scratch the surface, and you can incorporate it into any of your embroidery ideas with ease.

Start exploring the list. 

Reverse Chain Stitch Embroidery

As the name suggests, reverse chain stitch works opposite to basic chain stitch embroidery. For example, if a basic chain stitch works from top to bottom, then reserve chain stitch embroidery will work from bottom to top. 

Reverse chain stitch embroidery
Image Source: Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials

This chain stitch variation is also known as the broad chain stitch and is used in free embroidery designs

Twisted Chain Stitch Embroidery

Twisted chain stitch embroidery is used as a foundation for many composite stitches. It is great for straight lines, curves, seam treatments in quilting, and branches in all types of embroidery on canvas

The twisted chain stitch embroidery also serves as a base for all other embroidery library and stitches. The barb on the twisted chain stitch embroidery can be noticeable or not based on how far you enter the fabric. 

Cable Chain Stitch Embroidery

As the name suggests, this chain stitch embroidery has a cable connection between loops. This is one of the easiest members of the chain stitch family and works in a similar manner to basic chain stitch embroidery. 

Cable chain stitch
Image Source: Stitch Floral

It is made by twisting threads in the chain stitches. You can use this chain stitch on both weave and plain fabrics. You will enjoy working on cable chain stitch embroidery. 

Detached Chain Stitch Embroidery

If you are new to chain stitch embroidery, then a detached chain embroidery stitch is the one you should go with. 

It is also popular as a daisy stitch, tall chin stitch, picot stitch, lazy daisy stitch, and knotted knot stitch

People often think that the detached chain embroidery stitch can be used to make just flowers, but that is not the case. You can use this chain stitch to create all sorts of patterns and textures on the fabric. 

Double Chain Stitch Embroidery

Double chain stitch embroidery is another basic variation of chain stitch. One of the major differences between Single chain stitch embroidery and double-chain stitch embroidery is the process.  

Double chain stitch
Image Source: Fas Kitchen

In this chain stitch embroidery, two triangles are adjacent while interlocking each other. It is worked from bottom to top. The outcome of double chain stitch embroidery looks more like an Open Feather Stitch

Kashmiri Chain Stitch Embroidery

Kashmiri chain stitch embroidery is popular as Crewel embroidery or Aari Kaem. It is done on a white background along with motifs, and the hook covers a larger area than the needlework. 

This hand embroidery‘s end results are mesmerizing with amazing colors and eye-catching motifs.   

Braided Chain Stitch Embroidery

Braided chain stitch embroidery is similar to reverse chain stitch embroidery and heavy chain stitch embroidery. 

How to do the braided chain stitch
Image Source: Pinterest

It also works from bottom to top, giving a unique and embossed look. For a beginner embroiderer, braided chain stitch embroidery can be a challenging task. 

Butterfly Chain Stitch Embroidery

Butterfly chain stitch embroidery is a more versatile variation of the chain stitch family. It is made using straight stitches tied together with a single chain stitch embroidery. 

This chain stitch can make decorative borders on various embroidery fabrics. Get ready to work on a fun and simple chain stitch family.

Open Chain Stitch

Another open chain stitch embroidery name is square or ladder chain stitch. This chain stitch is useful for drawing two parallel lines and keeps the ladder running in the right direction while maintaining the space. 

How to do open chain stitch
Image Source: Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials

To make open chain stitch embroidery, you need to start marking points on your lines, whereas A is your starting point, and the thread will be pushed from the bottom of the fabric to the top. 

Now you will need to insert the embroidery needle in the fabric at point two and bring it out from point three. At this point, you will need to mark the fourth point just opposite the third point and insert the needle. 

Bring out this needle from point five, and you will be completing the open chain stitch. 

Barred Chain Stitch

A barred chain stitch is an alternative to a twisted chain stitch. This chain stitch makes linear stitches which is great if you want to make botanical patterns. 

You can follow the curves and also be able to make wonderful closed-circle shapes. By varying the lengths and angles, you can play around and make wonderful, eye-catching stitches on embroidery fabrics

Make sure you are familiar with the twisted chain stitch before trying your hands on the barred chain stitch. 

Whipped Chain Stitch

Whipped chain stitch embroidery can be used as an outline on chain stitch embroidery patterns. You can use whipped chain stitch wherever you want thick and bold lines. 

Whipped chain stitch tips
Image Source:

They are formed on the chain stitched line and can be made using thicker thread than a normal chain stitch loop

Use this chain stitch where you want to make two whipping stitches in the opposite direction. 

Checkered Chain Stitch

This exciting variation of chain stitch embroidery can be made using two separate-colored threads. Start threading your needle in a contrasting color to see how attractive the checked chain stitch you can get. 

Zigzag Chain Stitch

Zigzag chain stitch embroidery is easy to make as it is another variation of a basic chain stitch. This chain stitch will give you an eye-catching effect. 

Zigzag chain stitch
Image Source: In a Minute Ago

To start drawing a baseline, you will need to use a wipe-out marker to get zig-zag stitches. Make your chain stitch loop at 45-degree pointing away from the line, and insert your embroidery need in the chain loop so that you can make the second chain at 45-degree. 

Follow the pattern and get a row of zigzag chain stitches. 

Rosette Chain Stitch

Another wonderful chain stitch embroidery for decorative lines and flowers is the rosette chain stitch. This popular chain stitch embroidery is the perfect combination of a twisted chain and an upside-down buttonhole. 

The rosette chain stitch is also similar to the oyster stitch. You can use this chain stitch to curved around the borders. 

Backstitched Chain Stitch

All basic chain stitches have built-in backstitches. This chain stitch can be made in contrasting colors to give extraordinary texture. 

Back stitched chain stitch
Image Source: Pinterest

To make this left-handed chain stitch embroidery, you will need to form a line of chain stitches and make backstitches from right to left. 

Wheatear Chain Stitch

This chain stitch resembles a wheat plant. The wheatear chain stitch is the perfect combination of chain stitch and straight diagonal stitch. 

Hand Embroidery Chain Stitch

People are often afraid to try chain stitch embroidery. One of the reasons can be it uses lots of floss. If you want amazing results, you should try hand embroidery chain stitch. 

Hand embroidery chain stitch
Image Source: Skillshare

It is the easiest chain stitch family you will ever try. The best thing about hand embroidery chain stitches is that you can try them in any direction depending on how you want to look on your embroidery pattern.   

Altering Chain Stitch

This chain stitch uses two different colored threads for every alternate chain stitch. You can use two needles threaded with multiple threads at one time. 

3 Best Chain Stitch Embroidery Machine You Will Need to Start the Work

Chain stitch embroidery is not as popular as regular straight stitch or lockstitch, but they are perfect. They are another type of decorative embroidery in which chain stitches are looped together to make an embroidery pattern. 

Chain stitch sewing machine
Image Source: Textile Tutorials

It has been used for making bags, safety garments, and sometimes to give a finishing touch to the hems and side seams. 

If you want to try chain stitch embroidery at home, then you will need the right chain stitch embroidery machine for the best outcomes. Wondering which embroidery sewing machine you will need? 

Check out the following chain stitch machine embroidery for the best results. 

Axis Single Needle Chain Stitch Embroidery Machine

The axis single needle chain stitch embroidery machine is one of the best embroidery machines you need for chain stitches. 

Axis single needle chain stitch embroidery machine
Image Source: Tomsewing

They are heavy-duty embroidery and sewing machine used for garments. This chain stitch embroidery machine is well-equipped to deliver professional chain stitch and moss stitch on handkerchiefs and shirts.

Key features:

    • Easy stitches on handkerchiefs and shirts
    • Handheld operated
    • Beautiful embroidery design
    • Easy installation
    • Perfect for automated operations 

Singer Chain Stitch Embroidery Machine

If you are thinking of buying a vintage chain stitch embroidery machine, then look no further than the Singer chain stitch embroidery machine. 

It is designed for moss and chain stitches and delivers decorative, eye-catching stitches. The first Singer chain stitch embroidery machine for sale was Singer 114W103. 

These machines have no computer or programming software. It will be just you who will make beautiful embroidery. 

Juki MCS-1500 Chain Stitch Embroidery Machine

Most embroidery machines for home use are not used for a single purpose. The Juki MCS-1500 chain stitch embroidery machine is an all-in-one package. 

Chain link embroidery tutorial
Image Source: Sewing Machine Reviews

This is the perfect chain stitch embroidery machine for beginners. This machine is manufactured to accommodate four spools of thread, out of which two threads form chain stitch and the third and fourth form a cover stitch. 

The built-in cover stitch capabilities can be used for working with knit and other stretch fabrics. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can beginners learn chain stitch easily?

Yes, beginners can learn chain stitch relatively easily, especially with some practice and guidance. It is considered one of the foundational embroidery stitches and is often among the first techniques taught to embroidery novices.

What is chain stitch used for?

Chain stitch has various practical and decorative applications, making it a versatile technique in the realm of sewing, embroidery, and other textile-related crafts. Some of its common uses include Embroidery, Seam Finishing, Smocking, Repairing Tears and Rips, Handcrafted Garments and Accessories, Quilting, Rope and Cord Making.


Chain stitch embroidery is an easy-to-make embroidery stitch. You can make an amazing chain stitch with basic to intermediate sewing and embroidery skills.

It is a must-learn embroidery stitch for every beginner. Once you try your hands on a basic chain stitch, you can proceed with different variations and make a beautiful pattern.

The above information about chain stitch embroidery and its variations will help you make an eye-catching pattern on different fabrics.

Don’t forget to give your chain stitch embroidery item a professional touch by purchasing super customizable, easy-to-design, and high-quality. 

Super Label Store encourage all small business owners, home-based sewers, and beginners to start their own clothing line with customized and professional-looking labels.

Let us know which chain stitch variation you tried and how it went. 

We would love to hear about your experience! 

Happy sewing!