Chain Stitch for Needlepoint may not look, at first, as if it’s the great technique that it is, but this free embroidery stitch can be any size and use any thread you can find. It even works with threads that you might think are too thick or too fragile for needlepoint.
Making Chain Stitch
Chain stitch is created by making a series of loops that are connected to each other.
Begin by bringing your thread out of the canvas and inserting your needle back in using thew same hole. Do not pull the thread through but leave a loop on the front of the canvas, slightly longer than the finished size you want.
Bring your needle out of the canvas again, just inside the finished length the link should be. Now pull the thread tight. The loop will sit on the canvas against the thread. Repeat the process to make a loop, once again making it longer than it needs to be.
Continue the process: make a loop but don’t pull it tight, bring the needle out inside the loop, pull the first loop tight. When you get to the end of an area, you can’t make a new loop. Bring your needle out of the canvas and pull tight, just as you would if you were making a loop. Instead of making the loop, bring your needle back into the canvas just on the other side of the just-completed loop. This will finish the row.
Varying Chain Stitch
There are several easy variations and additions to Chain Stitch it’s good to know.
Make multiple rows. This technique is often found in ethnic embroidery, but it is well adapted to needlepoint. Rows of Chain Stitch with links the same length are made next to each other. This is particularly effective when a thread that has shades of the same color is used. The look is more free-form than most every needlepoint stitch and it sits higher off the canvas.
You can see how great it looks combined with Diagonal Mosaic in the Ann Wheat Pace star above.
Add extensions. Once a line of links is made it’s easy to add branches and extensions, below. To create a branch, bring your needle out inside the link that’s at the base of the branch. Make links as you normally would but heading off in a new direction.
The diagram above shows the start of a branch.
This technique is an outstanding one for making stems and trees.
Wrap it. By whipping or wrapping Chain Stitch you get a thick solid line that stands up even more from the canvas. It also hides the ends of the links.
To wrap, bring your needle out of the canvas under the first link in the chain, allowing it to emerge on one side of the stitch. Without re-entering the canvas bring the needle over the first stitch and under the second, allowing the needle to emerge from under the stitch on the first side of the second stitch.
Threads for Chain Stitch
Any thread that can be used for needlepoint can be used for Chain Stitch. Because most of this stitch os on the surface of the fabric you can also look further afield for other threads.
Ribbons and knitting threads are great choices for Chain Stitch. Slightly uneven threads might also be a possibility.
Just remember a couple of things.
- The Chain will be twice the thickness of your thread. Consider this before you choose a thick thread for Chain.
- Chain are neater if the thread can be compressed to go through the hole. Two strands of thread go through every hole, so they might need to be enlarged slightly. Avoid this if possible because the larger holes might show unless the stitch is wrapped,
- Stiff threads and metallic ribbons don’t work as well for Chain. If the thread is hard to turn or twists too easily, the links will not look good.
- If wrapping, you might consider a thinner size of the same thread. This can make the chain look neater.
If you’re looking for a great and unusual effect for your needlepoint, consider Chain Stitch.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
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