How to do Chain Stitch

We’ll show you how to do a chain stitch with perfection! Download our free chain stitch pattern and then try out your new skills

How to do chain stitch embroidery

Ah chain stitch! The loveliest of embroidery stitches (discuss!), it’s a wonderful way to sew outlines and lettering on your embroidery projects that stands out in a bolder outline than backstitch or running stitch. Read on to find out how to chain stitch, step by step. To use your new skills to create a lovely personalised embroidery hoop, draw your initial onto the fabric then chain stitch over it, adding the flowers and leaves as decoration. 

We’ve made this how to do Chain stitch video guide to show how to work this stitch in motion. If you prefer to have photographs and a written walkthrough, scroll down for our How to do Chain stitch step-by-step written instructions, too.

Before you begin, download our Free floral embroidery pattern –  now print out and trace the floral motif  onto your fabric to stitch over with lovely chain stitches! Template design: by Lisa Jones. Stitching & instructions by Zoe Patching.

Download the full Free chain stitch alphabet pattern here (as featured in Simply Sewing magazine issue 8).

If you are taking your first steps in embroidery, take a look at our embroidery for beginners guide


Step 1

Secure your thread on the back of your work then bring your needle up through the fabric. Push the needle back through a couple of millimetres to the right of where the thread first emerged to create a loop on the surface. Don’t pull the needle all the way through just yet.

HOW to do chain stitch step 1

Step 2

Hold the loop flat on the surface then bring the needle up just below the top centre of the looped thread to the length you want your finished chain to be. Pull the thread slowly throuagh the fabric to create a soft, curved chain stitch, keeping the chain held flat to the fabric. 

How to do chain stitch step 2

Step 3

Take your needle down through the fabric a couple of millimetres to the right of your last stitch, which is just below the top of the chain. Again, don’t pull the needle all the way through the fabric, as you will next make another chain which will hold the first in place. 

How to do chain stitch step 3

Step 4

Bring the point of your needle up just below the top centre of the loop, and pull to create your second chain stitch. Make all your chain stitches exactly the same length to keep the chain looking neat and even. To finish off, work a small vertical stitch over the last chain to tie it down.  

How to do chain stitch step 4

How to embellish a bag with chain stitch

Add a personal touch with a simple chain stitched initial.


Homemade presents are the best kind, right? This sweet floral drawstring bag, with a contrasting pocket chain-stitched with an initial, would make a lovely personalised back-to-school gift. (They’ll never lose a book bag again!) Of course, as it’s such a simple project, there’s nothing to stop you making one for yourself, too. Once you’ve mastered this versatile technique, you can use it to embellish other items with your initial, or give more complicated designs a go. Get started with our chain stitch step-by-step and free embroidery patterns above.

More embroidery to try

If you’ve enjoyed this how to do Chain stitch guide and looking for more projects to make as you learn, try these other designs on Gathered! You’ll find a great assortment of stylish sashiko designs to make in our Sashiko patterns and project for beginners article. Make a brilliant decorative hoop with our How to do Lazy Daisy stitch project, or find the perfect cross stitch kit for you or a friend in our roundup of the best modern cross stitch kits. For makes you can wear, check out our tutorial on embroidered socks using Peking knots, our cat embroidery tutorial to add cat pockets to all your cardis, and our embroidery on clothes guide. For more blooms in your wardrobe, make our embroidered flower shoes to jazz up your high tops, update a denim jacket with embroidery flowers or learn how to make brooches with our quick-stitch embroidery tutorial. For a choice of stunning bee designs to stitch, take a look at our bee embroidery patterns and Easy embroidered Christmas decorations.