1. Crafts & DIY
  2. Embroidery

Embroidery Fundamentals: How to Do Chain Stitch

Scroll to top
Read Time: 3 min
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

If you are looking to add texture or a bold outline to your embroidery, chain stitch is a great option. It is more decorative in appearance than backstitch, and with a little practice, it is just as easy. Just follow the steps below and you will be stitching like a pro in no time.


chain stitch supplieschain stitch supplieschain stitch supplies
  • Small piece of muslin fabric (about 15cm square)
  • Embroidery hoop (10cm-12cm in diameter)
  • 6 strand embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Embroidery transfer pen

1. Prepare Your Fabric for Stitching

Step 1

Trace a line onto your fabric using your embroidery transfer pen.

For this tutorial, I am using a straight line, but chain stitch is also great on curves. When you are practicing, feel free to draw some circles, ovals or wavy lines. If necessary, iron your fabric flat before tracing your line to get rid of any wrinkles.

Trace a LineTrace a LineTrace a Line

Step 2

Secure your fabric into your embroidery hoop.

If possible, secure it so your entire line is contained within the hoop. This will make it easy to complete your entire line of stitching without having to adjust your fabric halfway through.

secure fabric in hoopsecure fabric in hoopsecure fabric in hoop

2. Stitch Your Line

Step 1

Thread your needle.

As shown above, you will leave most of the floss on one side of your needle and just a little ‘tail’ on the other end.

thread needlethread needlethread needle

Step 2

Begin your stitch.

At the beginning of your traced line, stitch up through the fabric from back to front. Make sure to leave enough floss on the back of your work to weave in or tie a knot when you are finished.

begin stitchbegin stitchbegin stitch
back of first stitchback of first stitchback of first stitch

Step 3

Complete your first stitch.

To complete a ‘link’ in your chain stitch, pass your needle back through your starting point and a point on your line the length you want your stitch to be (each of my chain ‘links’ are about 3-4mm long). To aid in making my stitches as neat as possible, I do my needle work first and then make sure my floss is arranged neatly before pulling the stitch all the way to completion.

chain stitch step 2chain stitch step 2chain stitch step 2

Step 4

Move on to the second stitch in your line.

Pass your needle through the fabric from front to back. For the second link in your chain, start where your first stitch ended, and pass your needle through the same point and bring the needle back up 3-4mm down the line. Basically, each stitch is a loop of floss made by passing your needle in and out through the same hole and making ‘anchoring’ stitches evenly spaced down the line to hold each loop in place.

Second stitchSecond stitchSecond stitch
chain stitch progresschain stitch progresschain stitch progress

Step 5

Continue stitching in this way until you reach the end of your traced line.

Once you reach the end of the line, you will need to secure your final loop in place by stitching through your fabric from front to back, creating a tiny anchoring stitch.

end of lineend of lineend of line
anchor stitchanchor stitchanchor stitch
anchor close upanchor close upanchor close up

3. Finish the Back of Your Work

Step 1

Weave the end of your floss into your final stitches to secure it.

I usually make all of my stitches from right to left under my last two to three stitches.

weave inweave inweave in

Step 2

Tie a small knot to secure your floss.

After my last 'weave in' stitch, I make a small loop and tie a knot to secure my floss in place. Cut off any excess floss after tying your knot and pulling it tight.

small knotsmall knotsmall knot

Admire Your Work

You have just completed your first chain stitch!

chain stitch final in hoopchain stitch final in hoopchain stitch final in hoop

Congratulate yourself, practice a little, and pick out some embroidery patterns to try with your new skills.

Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Crafts & DIY tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.