Twisted Chain Stitch or Rope Stitch

Rope stitch sampleTwisted Chain stitch and Rope stitch are two very similar stitches. In fact Rope stitch ( as seen in the stems of the floral motif above) is simply twisted chain stitch worked closely together in a compact manner along the line.

Twisted Chain sample 1

This is an example of twisted chain worked in an open manner. I used pale yellow rayon ribbon floss and the stitches were open enough to tuck bugle beads into the spaces between them.

Twisted Chain rope stitch freeform sample

This sample is lines of rope stitch stacked next to each other worked in free form manner in different threads. As you can see all samples look as if they are different stitches but actually they are the same stitch spaced differently.

Twisted chain stitch is one of those handy stitches which after you master it you wonder how you lived without it! Worked close together it forms a good solid textured line which is ideal for outlining shapes or used to illustrated stems in floral motifs. It  can be used in most situations where you need a clear raised line.

How to work Twisted Chain Stitch and Rope Stitch

Once your hands understand the twist – or the wrap over the needle, Twisted Chain stitch becomes simple, quick and falls into a rhythm with ease. You can work this stitch horizontally or vertically.

Twisted Chain step by step 1To work rope stitch bring the working thread up through the fabric and insert the needle so that the point emerges a short space along the line to be stitched. Cross the thread over the needle and wrap the thread under the needle point as illustrated.

Twisted Chain step by step 2Next  pull the needle through the fabric. As you pull the thread through notice how you have loop that is crossed. This is the twisted chain stitch.

Twisted Chain step by step 3

Insert your needle on the  side of the stitch you just made. Bring the point of the needle out a short space along the line to be stitched and cross the thread over the needle as illustrated. Wrap the thread under the needle point and pull the needle through the fabric.

Twisted Chain step by step 4Continue in this manner down the line.

Twisted Chain step by step 5Twisted chain stitch follows curves with ease and if you work it close together as rope stitch it is ideal for strong linear elements.

A large variety of threads can be used from the finest thread to silk ribbon. The width of the stitch will depend on the weight of the thread used. The thicker the thread the thicker the line created.

Rope stitch can also be stacked line upon line similar to what you can do with stem stitch. This means you can graduate colour, tone, light to dark  or graduate from thin to thick threads.
Twisted chain stitch Rope stitch sample
As I have said Rope stitch is a twisted chain worked closely together so keep the next stitches close together. Rope stitch is also called Knotted Satin stitch. I mostly use rope stitch as a linear stitch in stems in floral motifs. Here is a sample above I have used in crazy quilting are worked using perle 5 thread.

There is another version of the stitch in which the stitches are stacked horizontally producing a thick band. This version is documented in Marion Nichols Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches

The vertical version of the stitch is documented in The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden  and the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches and the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches: v. 2 I took rope stitch to be the version that appears in most publications.

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10 Responses to Twisted Chain Stitch or Rope Stitch

  1. queeniepatch says:

    Such beautiful block details.
    I had been waiting for a linear stitch like this. It was a delight to work!

  2. Tenar says:

    I did Rope stitch, it is here:

    This one was new to me, I liked it very much as a line stitch, but not so much as a filling stitch.

    i would be happy to get to know that other version of rope stitch. (I have that embroidery book and adore it, but I won’t do the other rope stitch now if you are going to include it in TAST)

  3. Carol Harper says:

    I never realized these were related either! FUnny how justa little difference in a “tail” makes such a new look!

  4. Angela says:

    Thanks for the instructions Sharon. I really enjoy learning these new stitches. I found the rope stitch quite easy to do and I look forward to using it more!

  5. Annet says:

    I was very surprised to see the names of today’s stitches, never realized they are related!
    Today I shared a few samples of old rope stitches on my blog:

  6. Carla Fiedler says:

    I appreciate your stitch tutorials, thank you!

  7. Hi Sharon,
    I tried some samples of this rope stitch today, they are here-
    Thank you,

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