Butterfly Chain Stitch

hand embroidered sample of butterfly chain stitch

Butterfly Chain stitch is a decorative composite stitch that is more versatile than it first appears. It is a stitch that can be easily glanced over when browsing  a stitch glossary but it is a lot of fun to work and vary threads you can create lots of interesting effects.

hand embroidered sample of butterfly chain stitch

It can also be used to create  decorative borders on many types of fabrics. You are not restricted to even weave fabric as your foundation. Also Butterfly Chain stitch is easily worked on the curve so you can develop a totally different look to the stitch simply by letting it follow a gentle line.  Another way of using the stitch is to take advantage of contrasting threads.Since Butterfly Chain stitch is worked in two journeys it is easy to change colour or type of thread to create an interesting area on your hand embroidery.

butterfly chain step 1Work a foundation row of three vertical straight stitches. With this stitch watch the space between the foundation blocks as the space between the groups of stitches should be about the same width as the area covered by the three stitches.

butterfly chain step 2On the second journey, bring your thread up from the back of the fabric and tie each group of stitches together with a twisted chain stitch.

To tie each block of stitches pass the needle under the three straight stitches (not through the fabric) , and wrap the thread across the needle and then pull the needle through to form a twisted chain.

butterfly chain step 3Before moving on to the next block of straight stitches tension each twisted chain stitch to clutch the group of three foundation straight stitches together. Continue in this manner along the line

On the second journey, do not allow the needle to enter the ground fabric except at the beginning and end of the row.

It is traditional to work a foundation row of three vertical straight stitches but you can vary their scale. For instance, making the middle straight stitch longer that the side two. The thread that you use to clutch the foundation stitches together can be of heavier weight or a different colour. It can also be ribbon of fine cord. There are lots of things you can do with this stitch.

hand embroidered sample of butterfly chain stitch

You can zig zag it, work it is squares along a curve etc

hand embroidered sample of butterfly chain stitch

You can stack lines of the stitch to create patterns .

hand embroidered sample of butterfly chain stitch

If you have enjoyed this stitch you might like to try Beaded Butterfly Chain too!


Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods on how to design and make a crazy quilt. Topics such as fabric choice, tricky challenges like balancing colour, texture and pattern, and how to create movement to direct your viewers eye around the block are topics covered in detail. I also explain how to stitch and build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

using my stitchers Templates set 2Stitchers templates

My templates aim to help you take your stitching to the next level. Designed by an embroiderer for embroiderers. With them you can create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Stitchers Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 


How to work Bullion Knot Stitch

Bullion knot stitch sample 7People either love or hate bullion knots  but I am in the love them camp! They are one of those hand embroidery stitches that can be tricky to work so if you have trouble with them do take time to read my tips.

packet of milliners needlesTips before you start Bullion Knot stitch 

Most of the problems associated with working bullion knots is that people use the wrong needle. I suggest you try  milliners or straw needles. Why these particular needles? Most embroidery needles have an eye that is wider than the shaft of the needle which means any stitch that wraps the thread around the needle often runs the risk of getting too tight to pull the thread through.

Milliners or straw needles have an eye and shaft that are the same width which makes sliding the wrapped bullion knot along the needle easy. Try it as it does make a difference!

Where do you get Milliners needles?  Specialist needlework shops will or should stock them. If you are not near a needlework store, you can buy Milliners Needles online (this is an affiliate link which means if you shop here I get a small commission but that is not why I recommend them!)

Another tip is to wrap your thread in a clockwise direction. For most threads this will mean you will follow the natural twist of the direction in which it was spun. If your thread untwists as you wrap  your bullion, it means the thread was spun in the opposite direction to most threads on the market. This would include some rayon threads. In this case wrap your bullion in an anti clockwise direction.

Simply put, wrap clockwise most of the time but if for some reason this untwists your thread wrap anti clockwise.

If you have trouble with stranded threads getting a tangle try a twisted thread like cotton perle #8 0r #5.

Some people get a little tense and wrap too tight. Then, while still on the needle hold the bullion between thumb and first finger and gently rub the bullion back and forth in your fingers to loosen the wraps slightly before you pull the needle through.

Also stretch the fabric in a needlework hoop or frame so that you have both hands free to work the knot. If you need advice on wrapping a hoop and what size to choose skip over to this tutorial on how to bind and us an embroidery  hoop.

When you start to use bullion knots in your embroidery start with a simple 4 or 5 wrap bullion. Then as you master those add more wraps.

Bullion knot stitch sample 1Bullion knot is also known as bullion stitch, caterpillar stitch, coil stitch, grub knot, knot stitch, post stitch, Porto Rico rose and worm stitch.

How to work Bullion Knots

step by step tutorial on how to work bullion stitch 1Bring the thread from the back of the fabric and insert the needle a short space away pointed towards the place that the thread emerges from the fabric. The distance between these two points determines the length of the knot.

step by step tutorial on how to work bullion stitch 2Wrap the thread round the needle five or six times. Do not cross the wraps on the needle, instead make sure the thread coils up the needle. The coil of thread on the needle should be the same distance as where the needle emerges and exits the fabric.

step by step tutorial on how to work bullion stitch 3Pull the needle through the coil, while holding the coil between your first finger and thumb. See the photo below. This grip of the coil will keep the bullion knot smooth and prevent it from knotting in on itself. Pull the working thread up and away from you.

step by step tutorial on how to work bullion stitch 4As the coil tightens, change the direction that you are pulling the thread and pull it to towards you.

step by step tutorial on how to work bullion stitch 5If the bullion bunches or looks untidy pass the needle under the bullion and rub it up and down the length of the bullion to smooth the coils out. Stitchers call this rubbing the belly of the bullion.

step by step tutorial on how to work bullion stitch 6When smooth take the needle through the fabric at the point where the thread first emerged. step by step tutorial on how to work bullion stitch 8The coil of thread which is the bullion knot should now lie neatly on the surface.

Bullion knot stitch sample 3There are many applications for this stitch the body of this praying mantis is made up of Bullion knots.

Bullion knot stitch sample bullion rosesYou can also make hand embroidered bullion roses. These are worked in wool.

Bullion knot stitch sample 4When you combine bullion knots in floral sprays they can be very effective.

Bullion knot stitch sample 6They are ideal to tuck into the fork of feather stitch and its varieties

Bullion knot stitch sample 8Crazy quilters love this stitch as it can add texture to a seam or band of embroidery.

Bullion Knot is one of those hand embroidery stitches that is fun and interesting. Once mastered they are fun. I know they do take a little practice but they are well worth learning and enjoying!


How to hand embroider Half Chevron stitch

Half Chevron stitch sample 2

Half Chevron stitch is an interesting variety of Chevron stitch with one side of the stitch being worked with a similar hand motion. You can work this stitch on plain and even weave fabric in most types of embroidery thread to create useful border or outline stitch, which follows curves well. This stitch is great to use as a foundation line of stitching on the  seams of a crazy quilting project. You can work this stitch back to back with the points facing as in the sample above.

Work from left to right on two imaginary parallel lines. If you are working on fabric that is not an even weave you can mark guide-lines on the fabric using one of the fade out or water dissolvable pens available on the market but do make sure that it will disappear as this stitch does not cover the whole line marked.

How to work Half Chevron Stitch

Step by step illustration of how to work half chevron stitch 1Bring the thread out through the fabric on the left of the lower imaginary line. Insert the needle a little to the right on the same line, and with the needle emerging at the middle make a small stitch.

Step by step illustration of how to work half chevron stitch 2Take the needle up and insert on the upper imaginary line and make a small stitch pointing the needle downward. Have the thread looped under the needle. Take the needle through the fabric.

Step by step illustration of how to work half chevron stitch3Move diagonally across to the right and insert the needle on the lower line, bringing the needle out a little to the left, and pull the needle through the fabric. Still working on the bottom imaginary line take the needle across to the right and insert, bringing it once again out in the middle. Work this way along the row.

Half Chevron stitch sample 9

Half Chevron stitch is very effective worked back to back and you can build up interesting and complex patterns using it.

Half Chevron stitch sample 10Take some time to experiment as you can do simply oodles with this stitch. Beads can be added, ribbons or thread can be laced through the stitch and you are really only limited by your imagination.

Half Chevron stitch sample 4You can stack this stitch overlapping row upon row to create a patterned filling stitch.


Half Chevron stitch sample 6These are single half chevron stitches that have been turned on their side. Once again it is easy to add beads to this formation or use it for couching. You can also work a line of stitches on a curve.

Half Chevron stitch sample 7


Another way is to work single instance of Half Chevron stitch is to place them in a square which is effective as a little motif that can be repeated to build up patterns.

Half Chevron stitch sample 8You can also place the individual stitches in a cross which can also be used a repeating motif to build up patterns – or you can combine the two!


Half Chevron stitch sample 5Yet another option with this stitch is to swing either side of the line, individual half chevron stitches back to back to form patterns. The stitch can be worked on a gentle curve and when you swing them from side to side even more interesting things happen.

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