How to Make a Chain Stitch — Crochet Guide for Beginners

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A chain stitch crochet on a skein of pink yarn with a crochet hook on a wooden surface.
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Among other crochet stitches, chain stitch is a fundamental one. When you googling information about how to start crochet, the tutorial on how to chain stitch crochet will be at the very beginning. When you make your first slip knot, proceed with a foundation chain. It is a cornerstone of crochet artistry and offers a blend of simplicity and foundational importance, all of which make it a favored technique among crafters. Its historical significance and adaptability across various crafts underscore its popularity and utility.

The chain stitch in crochet forms the basis of most projects, acting as the initial row from which you will construct the fabric. This stitch involves looping yarn over a crochet hook to create a series of interconnected loops, providing the structure for subsequent rows or rounds of crochet.

History of Chain Stitch and Its Uses

Originating centuries ago, it has a storied presence in the world of textile arts. Initially prominent in embroidery, its application extended into crochet, where it became a fundamental technique. Its uses range from starting crochet projects to creating intricate lace patterns and decorative elements.

Its popularity stems from its simplicity, versatility, and the foundational role it plays in crochet projects. Beginners easily learn this stitch, yet it remains integral to advanced patterns, making it a universally valued technique in the crafting community.

Comparison Between Embroidery and Crochet Chain Stitch

You might know that crafters widely use the chain stitch in embroidery. Does it differ from the crochet one? Let us answer this question in a few short 

Differences in Technique

Exploring the distinctions between the embroidery and crochet chain stitch techniques reveals a fascinating aspect of textile arts:

The embroidery technique centers on the artful manipulation of a needle to weave a sequence of loops across a fabric’s surface. This approach primarily embellishes the material, adding texture and visual interest with each loop and enriching the fabric with decorative flair.

Crochet, on the other hand, skillfully employs a crochet hook to generate loops from an ongoing yarn thread. This method lays the groundwork for creating textile pieces from the very first loop. Crochet transforms a simple yarn into intricate fabric or textile creations, starting with these foundational loops.

Differences in Appearance

The visual differences between embroidery and crochet chain stitches highlight the distinct aesthetic and functional roles they play within textile arts:

Embroidery chain stitch manifests as a sequence of intertwined loops that gracefully sit atop the fabric’s surface. This stitch is frequently employed to trace outlines or introduce tactile variety, lending depth and character to the embroidered piece through its textured continuity.

Crochet chain stitch, conversely, is recognized as the essential launching pad for crochet endeavors. It forms a preliminary line of loops, setting the stage for the intricate patterns and structures to follow. This stitch is the backbone of crochet work, offering a straightforward yet vital foundation from which the fabric’s architecture is constructed.

Uses for Embroidery and Crochet Chain Stitch

Its applications in both embroidery and crochet reveal the versatility and creative potential of this simple yet powerful technique:

In embroidery, it serves a decorative function, adding beauty and detail to the fabric. It’s adept at outlining shapes, contributing to the definition of designs, and introducing texture to the embroidered surface. Whether it’s accenting floral motifs or adding depth to lettering, the embroidery chain stitch brings artistry and dimension to a piece.

In crochet, it is foundational, acting as the first step in many projects. It’s the springboard from which diverse creations emerge, ranging from the simplest of scarves to the most intricate lace patterns. This stitch provides the initial row or round that is built upon with more complex stitches, shaping everything from garments to decorative home items.

Which Craft is Better Suited for Chain Stitch

Both crafts utilize the chain stitch effectively for their respective purposes. Its suitability depends on the project’s nature — embroidery for surface decoration and crochet for constructing the fabric.

How to Chain Stitch Crochet

As you already know, chain stitch is a method of starting projects in crochet. It involves looping yarn over a crochet hook to create a series of chains. Let’s see how to crochet the foundation stitch.

Written tutorial on how to crochet a chain stitch

  1. Start with a slip knot on the hook.
  2. Yarn over and pull through the loop on the hook.
  3. Repeat the process to create the desired length.

Video tutorial on how to chain stitch crochet

Here is a simple video tutorial from YourCrochet on how to do chain stitch crochet and count stitches. You’ll understand the technique quickly, and it’s perfect for those who prefer visual learning.

filmed by Crochetpedia for YourCrochet

Variations of chain stitch in crochet

In the realm of crochet, this stitch is not just a singular technique; it embodies a spectrum of variations, each tailored to enhance different aspects of crocheting. Let’s delve into some of these variations:

Foundation chain stitch

This innovative variation combines the creation of a chain stitch and the first row of stitches (such as single crochet, half-double crochet, or double crochet) into one step. The result is a foundation that is both stretchy and provides a neat edge, eliminating the need to work into the chains separately. It’s particularly beneficial for projects where a flexible foundation is crucial.

Slip Stitch Chain

Unlike the traditional chain stitch, which serves primarily as a foundational row, the slip stitch chain integrates slip stitches into the chain itself. This method creates a firmer and more structured fabric, ideal for projects requiring a denser texture or for adding stability to a piece’s edges.

Lacy chain stitch variations

These involve creating chains of varying lengths and combining them with other stitches to form open, lacy patterns. Techniques like Solomon’s knot (or Lover’s knot) are examples where extended chains are used to create a delicate, mesh-like fabric, perfect for lightweight shawls and scarves.

Beaded chain stitch

By threading beads onto the yarn before crocheting, you can incorporate them into the chain stitches. This variation is used to add decorative elements to projects, such as jewelry, bag embellishments, or festive garlands.

Color-changed chain stitch

This involves changing yarn colors within the chain, creating multi-colored chains. It’s a simple yet effective way to introduce colorwork into your projects without the complexity of more advanced techniques.

Each of these variations opens up new possibilities for creativity and customization in crochet projects. Whether you’re looking to create stretchy foundations, textured fabrics, delicate laces, or decorative accents, there’s a variation that can meet your needs.

Tips and tricks for perfecting chain stitch in crochet

Mastering the chain stitch in crochet can significantly enhance the quality and appearance of your projects. Check out the detailed tips and strategies to refine your technique, and you’ll be fine!

Proper tension

Achieving the right tension is essential for creating even and attractive crochet work. Here’s how to master this fundamental aspect:

Find your grip

The journey to perfect tension starts with how you hold your hook and yarn. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so take the time to experiment with different grips. Whether you prefer the pencil or the knife grip for your hook, what matters is finding a comfortable and effective method that offers you ample control over your yarn tension.

Yarn guide

Controlling yarn tension is crucial, and your fingers are the perfect tools for this task. A common technique involves wrapping the yarn around your pinky to create slight resistance and then guiding it under your ring and middle fingers, using them as tension regulators. This method helps maintain a steady flow of yarn and ensures that your chains are uniform in size.

Adjust as you go

Pay attention to the feel of your chains as you work. If you find them too tight to insert your hook into for the next stitch or so loose that they look sloppy, it’s time to adjust your grip on the yarn. This could mean loosening your hold if your stitches are too tight or tightening it if they’re too loose. The key to perfection is consistent practice and being mindful of the tension throughout your project.

Mastering tension in crochet doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience and practice. But once you’ve mastered it, your crochet projects will look more polished and professional.

Choosing the right hook and yarn

The hook size should correspond to the yarn weight. Yarn producers typically give this information on the yarn label. It helps achieve the right tension and stitch size. As to material, metal, wood, or plastic hooks can feel different in your hand and affect your tension. Try different ones to see what works best for you.

When choosing yarn for practicing, pay attention to smooth, medium-weight yarns (like worsted weight). They’re easier to work with, and the stitches are more visible.

By integrating these tips and tricks into your crochet practice, you’ll enhance your chain stitch technique, leading to more polished and professional-looking projects.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Chain Stitch

Too tight chains

Chains that are too tight are difficult to work into for the next row. Ensure your hook can easily slide through the chains. To solve this issue, try a larger hook or consciously loosen your grip on the yarn.

Inconsistent chain size

This often occurs due to varying tension. Practice maintaining the same grip and tension throughout your work. Try to use a metronome app to establish a rhythm if it helps.

Forgetting to count

Losing count is especially crucial for projects requiring a specific size, as it can lead to uneven edges or incorrect sizing. Count your stitches as you go, and use stitch markers if necessary. Check out the video tutorial above to learn how to count stitches easily.

If you explore difficulty working into chains, consider using a hook with a pointier tip or practice making your initial chains looser.


What is chain stitching?

Chain stitching is a sewing and embroidery technique that involves creating a series of looped stitches that form a chain-like pattern. This stitch is both fundamental and versatile, used in various textile arts, including crochet, embroidery, and quilting.

How is chain stitching different from other types of stitches?

Unlike straight or running stitches, chain stitches create a continuous looped line, resulting in a distinctive, decorative appearance. This looping technique offers more flexibility and elasticity compared to other stitches, making it unique in both structure and function.

What materials are needed to create a chain stitch?

To create a chain stitch, you need:

  • A needle (for embroidery or hand sewing) or a crochet hook.
  • Thread or yarn, depending on the project’s needs.
  • Fabric or another base material (if embroidering or sewing).

Can chain stitching be used for both decorative and functional purposes?

Yes, chain stitching is celebrated for its versatility, used for decorative embellishments in embroidery and functional purposes like seam construction in sewing and the foundational rows in crochet.

What are the benefits of using chain stitching in embroidery?

In embroidery, chain stitching offers several benefits, including:

  • Versatility in creating varied textures and patterns.
  • Flexibility makes it suitable for curved or circular designs.
  • The aesthetic appeal adds a distinctive, raised dimension to the embroidery.

How do you create a chain stitch?

To create a chain stitch crochet, do the following steps:

  1. Make a slip knot. Check out the detailed guide including a video tutorial on how to make a slip knot crochet.
  2. Hold the tail of the yarn with your non-dominant hand to maintain tension. With your dominant hand, hold the crochet hook and the working yarn. Wrap the yarn over the hook from back to front (this is called a “yarn over”).
  3. Use the hook to catch the yarn you just looped over it. Gently pull this loop through the slip knot or the previous chain stitch already on the hook. You have now made one stitch.

Continue the “yarn over and pull through” motion for as many stitches as your project requires. Each “pull through” creates a new one. Once you have the required number of chain stitches, you can proceed with your crochet project, building rows or rounds on this foundational chain.

Check out the video tutorial above on how to crochet chain stitch.

Are there different variations of chain stitching?

Yes, there are several variations, including the single crochet chain stitch in crochet, the reverse chain stitch, and the split chain stitch in embroidery, each offering a unique look and texture.

Can chain stitching be done by hand or only by machine?

Chain stitching can be done both by hand and by machine in embroidery. Hand chain stitching offers more control for detailed embroidery work, while machine chain stitching is used for stronger, uniform seams in garment construction.

You can do crochet by hand only.

What are some common mistakes when chain stitching?

Common mistakes include:

  • Pulling the stitches too tight results in puckered fabric.
  • Inconsistent loop sizes lead to an uneven appearance.
  • Losing tension can cause the chain to unravel.

Check out the detailed answer in the Common Mistakes to Avoid section.

How is chain stitching used in the fashion industry?

In the fashion industry, chain stitching is used to construct durable seams, decoratively embroider garments, and embellish accessories, showcasing its wide-ranging applicability.

Is chain stitching a beginner-friendly embroidery technique?

Yes, chain stitching is considered beginner-friendly due to its simple technique. It’s often one of the first stitches taught to novices in both embroidery and crochet.

Can chain stitching be used on different types of fabric?

Chain stitching can be applied to a wide array of fabrics, from sturdy denim to delicate silks, making it a versatile choice for various projects. Crochet chain stitch allows you to create beautiful lace projects, such as delicate crochet doilies, shawls, scarves, or meshed tops.

What are some alternative uses for chain stitching?

Beyond traditional embroidery and garment construction, chain stitching can be used for:

  • Artistic textile projects.
  • Decorative home décor, such as cushion covers and wall hangings.
  • Functional items like bags and belts.

Are there any famous examples of chain stitching in history?

Historical tapestries and garments, such as those found in ancient Egyptian tombs and medieval European churches, feature chain stitching, highlighting its long-standing significance in textile art.

How has chain stitching evolved over time?

Chain stitching evolved from a handcrafted skill to a mechanized technique with the advent of chain stitch sewing machines, expanding its applications in both the industrial and creative sectors. This demonstrates its adaptability and enduring popularity throughout the ages.

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