Long tail chain is also known as long arm chain and Long leg chain! With all these tails arms and legs you would think we are talking about a beast of stitch but it is not the case.
Long tail Chain Stitch is a stitch of hidden talents as it is very versatile particularly when you introduce a second process like whipping or if you add beads. Long tail chain is simply a chain stitch with a long tie stitch. It is not difficult to work and is easily added to or arranged in interesting patterns.
It is a good idea to be familiar with detached chain stitch as Long Tail Chain is a variety of Chain stitch
How to hand embroider Long Tail Chain stitch
Bring the needle up through the fabric and insert it back into where it emerged and take a small bite of the fabric to have the point of the needle positioned as illustrated.
Wrap under the needle point as you would for chain stitch and pull the needle through to create a chain stitch.
On the same line tie the chain down with a long straight stitch.
When this stitch is worked in a single unit it is called a long tailed chain.
You can arrange long tailed chain stitch is all sorts of ways and I have worked some samples to show you.
You can even create interesting fills or patterns with this stitch.
Circles are a common pattern as they then look like flower petals.
Tip! How to work neat stitches in a circle.
This tip works not only for this stitch but also for detached chain flowers (lazy daisy) bullion flowers and many of the hand embroidery stitches where you have to work a circle of spokes that radiate from the centre.
When you work long tailed chain in a circle, imagine a clock face.
Work a stitch at 12 o’clock and then another stitch at 6 o’clock then take your thread across the can work a stitch at 3 o’clock and another at 9 o’clock.
Next you add a stitch between 12 and 3 o’clock and another between 3 and 6 o’clock and so on.
If you do this you will get nicely balanced hand embroidered flowers without having to mark the fabric.
You can create some nice flower patterns with this stitch.
Tip! How to work Beaded embroidery stitches
With this stitch the beading is done during the stitching process not added afterward so you need to use a size 26 tapestry needle. Since the eye of a tapestry needle is long you can thread perle #8 and Perle #5 through the long eye. However the needle itself is thin which means you can add a bead to your working thread as you stitch. It is a case of the best of both worlds!
To work this beaded version you create a chain and before you tie it off the with the long straight stitch thread 3 seed beads on to the tail.
How to hand embroider Whipped Long Tail Chain stitch
The last variety I would like to share with you is Whipped Long Tail Chain. This stitch is also known as whipped long armed chain, and whipped long tack daisy.
Work 8 long tail chain stitches so that they radiate in circle.
The tails of the stitch are the foundation threads for the whipped stitches.
Bring the thread out at the centre and slide the needle under a ‘tail’ and pull it through. In this stitch you are not going through the fabric just under the long tail stitches which are acting as spokes.
Take the thread up and over the top of the spoke and move back a spoke to slide the needle under two spokes as illustrated. Your thread should wrap around the spoke. This whipping action of forward 2 spokes and back 1 spoke is a bit like making a series of back stitches over the spokes but not through the fabric.
Repeat this action, whipping each spoke as you progress around the wheel until the circle is filled.
It is a fun stitch and I hope readers will enjoy experimenting with it a bit.
Have you seen my book?
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 viewer’s eye around the block are 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.
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