How to Decrease in Crochet

How to Decrease in Crochet: Learn How to Decrease Stitches in Crochet

Learning how to decrease in crochet is an essential crochet skill. As you’re learning how to crochet, you will eventually see instructions to “decrease” in a crochet pattern. If you’re stuck on a project because you don’t know how to do a decrease in crochet, we’re here to help.

How to decrease in crochet
Image source: Top Crochet Patterns

This article will cover:

    • What is dec in crochet
    • How to decrease a stitch in single crochet
    • How to decreases a half double crochet stitch
    • How to decrease a double crochet stitch
    • How to decrease a treble stitch

If you know how to sew or are learning how to sew, you can think of crochet decreases as the crochet equivalent to darts. Darts transform all kinds of fabric types from two-dimensional pieces to three-dimensional pieces of clothing.

Similarly, crochet decreases transform flat yarn swatches into dimensional finished projects.

What is Decreasing in Crochet?

Before you can answer the question, “How do you decrease stitches in crochet?”, it’s important to first know what exactly a crochet decrease is.

A crochet decrease shortens the current crochet row (or crochet round). Decreasing in crochet actually makes the current row or round shorter than the previous one. You can think of decreasing as subtracting a stitch.

What does this mean in regards to learning how to do a decrease stitch in crochet? In simple terms, a crochet decrease involves crocheting two stitches together. After doing this, the two stitches will become a single stitch.

Like crochet increases, decreases alter the shape and flow of a project. As you can see in the image below, crochet decreases can transform flat circles into dimensional objects. 

Invisible decrease crochet stitch tutorial
Image source: Vami Creations

Crochet decreases are frequently used in amigurumi crochet projects, hats, and toys. Decreasing can be done either at the end of a row/round or in the middle of a row/round.

The crochet decrease can be represented in several different ways. It is also commonly described as “crochet two together.” You will see decrease abbreviations and symbols in crochet patterns and diagrams, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the various forms.

Crochet Instruction Abbreviations
    • Decrease / 
    • Single crochet two together
    • Half double crochet two together
    • Double crochet two together
    • Treble crochet two together
    • Dec
    • Sc2tog
    • Hdc2tog
    • Dc2tog
    • Tr2tog

Increase or decrease crochet stitches
Image source: Haak Maar Raak

Before learning how to decrease in crochet, acquire the following basic crochet skills:

As you can see, there are important distinctions between decreasing in single crochet, double crochet, half double crochet, and treble crochet. Now that you understand what a decrease in crochet is, it’s time to learn how to do it yourself. Let’s start with how to decrease in crochet with single crochet.

How Do You Do a Single Crochet Decrease?

Since learning how to single crochet is many crocheter’s first stitch, practicing how to single crochet decrease is a natural starting place.

Single crochet decrease
Image source: My Merry Messy Life

First, what is a single crochet decrease (or what is sc dec in crochet)? 

A single crochet decrease is the process of combining two single crochets into one stitch. You will start one single crochet stitch, start the second crochet stitch, and then finish them together to make a single stitch.

The best way to practice your single crochet decrease is with a practice swatch, especially since you don’t have to worry too much about weaving in your ends. Grab a crochet hook and a lightly textured, pastel-colored crochet yarn and follow the instructions below.

    1. Place your hook into the first stitch.
    2. Yarn over and pull through the loop. Do not finish the stitch as you usually would.
    3. Place the hook into the next stitch.
    4. Yarn over and pull through the loop. If you’ve followed the instructions exactly, you will have three loops on your hook.
    5. Yarn over and draw through all three loops.
    6. Congratulations, you’ve just made your first single crochet decrease stitch!

How to decrease stitches in crochet
Image source: My Poppet

Important notes about single crochet decreases:

    • Most patterns will count a single crochet decrease as one stitch. This is important for counting stitches.
    • Decreases will reduce the total number of stitches in a row by one.
    • The instructions above are for the traditional crochet single decrease. You can experiment with the invisible single crochet decrease for a different finished look.

How to Do a Half Double Crochet Decrease

Working from shortest to tallest basic crochet stitch, it’s now time to learn how to do a half double crochet decrease. Only attempt this technique if you’re confident in your knowledge of how to half double crochet.

Half double crochet decrease
Image source: My Merry Messy Life

    1. Yarn over.
    2. Place your hook into the next stitch.
    3. Yarn over again and pull your yarn through. There should be three loops on your hook.
    4. Yarn over.
    5. Place the hook into the next stitch.
    6. Yarn over and pull through. At this point, you should have four loops on your crochet hook.
    7. Pull through all four loops on your hook.

What is dec in crochet
Image source: Easy Crochet

You’ll notice that the process for decreasing in half double crochet is similar to decreasing in single crochet. After beginning two different stitches, you’ll always finish them together to combine them.

How To Do a Double Crochet Decrease

If you know how to double crochet and how to decrease a single crochet stitch, you can easily learn how to decrease in double crochet. Once again, you’ll start making a regular (double) crochet stitch, stop, begin a second regular stitch, and then finish the two together.

How to decrease a double crochet stitch
Image source: My Merry Messy Life

    1. Yarn over your hook.
    2. Place the hook into the next stitch.
    3. Yarn over again.
    4. Draw the yarn through the stitch. At this point, you should have three loops on your crochet hook.
    5. Yarn over.
    6. Draw the yarn through the first two stitches. Count two loops on your hook.
    7. Don’t finish the normal double crochet stitch. Instead, leave the loops on your hook and begin a second stitch.
    8. Yarn over and place your hook into the next stitch.
    9. Yarn over and draw through the first two stitches you’ve created. Check that there are three loops on your hook.
    10. Yarn over.
    11. Draw through all three stitches.

How To Do a Triple Crochet Decrease

The triple crochet stitch, also known as the treble crochet stitch, is the tallest basic crochet stitch. Although the steps for decreasing in triple crochet are similar to the other stitches, be sure you know how to triple crochet confidently.

    1. Yarn over hook twice.
    2. Insert your hook into the next stitch.
    3. Draw up a loop.
    4. Yarn over and draw through the two loops on your hook. You should count three loops on your hook.
    5. Yarn over and place the hook into the next stitch.
    6. Pull up a loop. You should have five loops on your hook.
    7. Yarn over again and draw through two loops. Count four loops on the hook.
    8. Yarn over and draw through three loops. You should have two loops on your hook.
    9. Yarn over and draw through the last two loops on the hook.

How Often Should You Decrease in Crochet?

Wondering how and when you should decrease your crochet stitches? Read the pattern! Any crochet pattern will indicate when and how often you should decrease your stitches.

Most frequently, patterns will either tell you to decrease once or repeat the decrease across an entire row or round. You’ll also commonly see individual decreases at the beginning and ends of rows.

What is sc dec in crochet
Image source: Crochet Mania

If you’re in doubt, review how to read crochet patterns and crochet charts. They might look incomprehensible when you’re just starting out but with practice, they will become your map to beautiful crochet projects.

Summary: How to Decrease in Crochet

Now that you understand how to decrease all of the basic crochet stitches, let’s review the most important concepts.

In essence, decreasing in crochet is the process of combining two stitches into one. You’ll always start the stitch as normal, stopping at the final step. After leaving the first stitch incomplete, you will then start the second stitch as usual. 

Once again, you’ll stop before the last step to complete the stitch. Instead, to decrease, you’ll pull the yarn through all of the loops left on the hook (see the table below for a summary).

Stitch Decreasing

Summary

Single crochet stitch

Draw through three loops on the hook to combine two single crochet stitches.

Half double crochet stitch

Pull through four loops on the hook to combine two half double crochet stitches.

Double crochet stitch

Pull through three loops on the hook to combine two half double crochet stitches.

Triple/treble crochet stitch

Pull through the final two loops to combine two triple crochet stitches

Congratulations, you’re now a crochet decrease expert! You can now make fashionable crochet hats that use the decrease technique to create shape. Add a woven label to your new creations to personalize gifts, or add a custom care label if you’re planning on starting a crochet store.

Anita doll
You can also dive into the adorable world of amigurumi crochet projects (like the Anita doll pictured above). These projects require a great deal of skill and time, so consider adding a branded hang tag and selling them.

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