How to work Oyster Stitch


oyster stitch sampleOyster stitch is a member of the chain stitch family and although it looks complex but it is not difficult. Oyster stitch is also very versatile as you can often adapt it to use in situations where you would use chain stitch. It creates a textured slightly raised stitch that is fun to work and adds variety to your hand embroidery. You can also work a beaded variety. I wrote a tutorial on Beaded oyster stitch here

oyster stitch sample8

Step by step instructions on how to do Oyster Stitch

You start Oyster stitch with a twisted chain stitch.

oyster stitch step by step tutorial 1Commence by bringing the thread to the front of the fabric, insert the needle, take a bit of fabric with the tip pointed downwards. Wrap the needle as you would a twisted chain in other words cross the working thread over the needle, then wrap the thread under the needle.

oyster stitch step by step tutorial 2Pull the needle through the fabric to create a twisted chain stitch. Pull your working thread snug, until the loop lies flat but not tight it pulls on the fabric.

oyster stitch step by step tutorial 3Pass the needle under the right-hand top thread above the loop that has formed. Slide the needle through without picking up the foundation fabric.

oyster stitch step by step tutorial 4Pull the thread through.

oyster stitch step by step tutorial 5Insert the needle through the fabric at the top of the stitch, with the needle pointed downwards, slide it behind the knot, so that the needle exists the cloth at the base as illustrated.

oyster stitch step by step tutorial 6Loop the thread under the needle (as you would for a chain stitch) and pull the needle through.

oyster stitch step by step tutorial 7Repeat this process  if you want to use the stitch as a linear stitch or you can use this stitch as you would a detached chain stitch.

oyster stitch step by step tutorial 8It can be used as buds in floral motifs, or worked in a circle with the stitches pointing outwards to create flowers.

oyster stitch sample 5
If you extend the last tie off stitch that secures the chain, to a long straight stitch you have another variety.

oyster stitch sample 6

You can use these pointed towards the middle of circle or outwards to crate daisy and flower like motifs.

oyster stitch sample 4These samples were worked using a cotton perle #5 thread that is variegated.

oyster stitch sample 9Oyster stitch will follow a curve well as it is a member of the chain stitch family.

oyster stitch sample7It has a highly textured appearance so sprinklings of this stitch in contemporary work produces a nobly relief particularly when worked in a thread with a good twist or a fine ribbon.

oyster stitch sample 3And of course it is great in crazy quilting

I hope you enjoy the stitch!

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57 Responses to How to work Oyster Stitch

  1. JoWynn says:

    Sharon, I don’t believe you’ve ever met a stitch that was not “quick and easy to do.” I don’t think I would have known about oyster stitch without TAST. Thanks.

    • sharonb says:

      JOWynn you make me laugh -I sort of have my favourites and I guess I share them most but I do have moments where I think “this stitch is annoying or frustrating”

    • Ash Zee says:

      I agree with you..I too have never known this..Thanks to TAST, I am enjoying the new stitches introduced weekly.

  2. Patty j. says:

    The oyster stitch is so pretty. There are so many things to create with it. I will set down and try it today. I imagine it will look more impressive with a good thickness of thread. You open up so many creative juices with your tutorials. Thank you. patty

  3. vero says:

    voici mon point de cette semaine

  4. Ann says:

    Here’s my complete failure with the oyster stitch:

    Even though others had success and can do the stitch beautifully, mine look rather pathetic.

    So, if there’s anyone who struggled with this stitch…you’re not alone. Take comfort in your work by looking at my examples.

  5. The oyster stitch is difficult, I’ve found myself having to cut the thread after doing a knot with it, but it is still beautiful 🙂
    This time I have two weeks in one so I could catch up more easily, but I’m still one week behind.

  6. I’ve finally posted on my blog about trying Oyster stitch. I’ve been a bit lax about leaving comments on here about my blog recently because I’ve been so busy and everything’s been done in a rush. I’ve been just about keeping up with the stitches, as long as I keep them simple.

  7. Annet says:

    I stitched a swirl on one of my samplers and I used it on a project I’m working on:
    Just in time for the next stitch!

  8. Dianne says:

    This was a great stitch to do. So much texture. My sample is on my blog here:

  9. Rose says:

    I finally got the hang of this stitch. It wasn’t easy but once I figured it out I was good to go. Blogged about my experience here with my step by step photos for lefties.

  10. Cy says:

    I stitched the Oyster stitch on my Crazy Quilt block for July (CQJP) and also variations of the stitch on my Stitch Journal page. All can be seen at the following link.

    Thank you Sharon for introducing me to another stitch that I have not tried before.

  11. ValerieL says:

    I finally did my oyster stitch sample.
    You can find it here:

  12. Lucy Landry says:

    I think the oyster stitch is quite delightful

  13. SusieW says:

    I got lucky with the Oyster stitch as I combined it with the Basque stitch in one seam and am now caught up again. You can see the stitches here .

  14. Jennifer says:

    Hi Sharon and fellow Tasters!

    this was a wonderful stitch – I worked it with some bullions too! here is my newbie working of the stitches:

    thank you!

  15. Isabelle says:

    the pearl stitch was very funy to learn. You can find the work of my daughter and mine here :

  16. Hi Sharon,
    this is an interesting stitch. I missed it during your previous challenge. I have started on this sampler, the details are here-
    Thank you,

  17. here is my oyster sitch sampler :
    I enjoy very much this stitch Thanks Sharon

  18. Reba says:

    Got mine done……………. Not a bad stitch at all to do..Kind of fun actually!

  19. Here is my trials on oyster stitch.
    This is the first time I tried.

  20. It is an intersting stitch.
    I triedit out with fly, feather,upanddownbuttonhole and whipped stitches.
    Soon will do one project with this stitch alone.
    It is

  21. Hi Sharon,
    Made it a day earlier this week,
    I blogged about it here:
    and added it to the Flickr pool;

  22. Brigitte Otto says:

    Sorry, I forgot to post the link to my block: plus some detail pictures.

  23. Brigitte Otto says:

    My results for week 22 to 30 are uploaded. I really got the kick out of oyster stitch which was new to me like bonnet stitch and basque stitch. Great to get to know them!

  24. christine says:

    A new stitch for me. Nice for a flower.

  25. Niina says:

    Slowly but steadily. Here are my samplers 24&25:
    Buttonhole Wheel
    Cable Chain Stitch

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to skip eat&sleep to stitch.

  26. Laurel says:

    Sharon – I love the oyster stitch (like all knotted stitches). It reminds me of when I used to make my mother macrame plant hangers when I was young. Here’s my example:

  27. Carol Harper says:

    My oyster stitch is here…
    I found it a little “fiddly” regarding tension and, as in some of the previous complex stitches, kept losing my place.

  28. Claudia says:

    Needless to say the stitch was new to me and again I must say I like the Oyster stitch maybe for giving structure: Thanks, Sharon for this wonderful possibility to learn! Here is my exercise:

  29. Karrin Hurd says:

    This was a new stitch for me using, although I knew of it. But I tried it, and liked it! It can be found at

  30. Debbie says:

    My TAST stitching for this week: which includes a photo of a full view of my TAST sampler so far.

  31. Hi Sharon, once again you have given me inspiration and knowledge………A beautiful stitch, when you mastered it !
    I was pulling the tension too tight to begin with but Ahhhh,
    once I had realised this……..the world was my oyster !!
    Thank you dear Sharon, you can see my sample here…….
    Chris richards

  32. Angela says:

    This is a new stitch for me . I like it and will try to use it again. I did not find it difficult to learn so that was good!

  33. Annet says:

    Here’s my weekly post with old oyster stitches:
    This time it was difficult to find visible samples of the oyster stitch!

  34. Dear Sharon,
    I caught up with my TAST-piece this morning. I may have found my Nemesis: Basque stitch. I just couldn’t get the tension right. I did like bonnet stitch as it produces nice outlines. Oyster stitch was ok, but a bit too messy to my taste. I can see this stitch being very effective as a flower bud, though. My favourite was clearly the up and down buttonhole stitch. It is sure to become a stitch I will use more and more in my stitching.
    Have a nice day, Jessica

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