Fly Stitch

Fly Stitch

Fly stitch sample 9

Fly stitch is a simple stitch that you can use for many things, such as in the sample above. In this piece of contemporary embroidery, I worked fly stitch in stranded cotton floss, perle #8 cotton, perle #12 cotton over layers of chiffon and net to produce a watery effect.

Fly stitch sample 2

This is a more traditional example of fly stitch. In the foliage of this floral motif, I used the stitch stacked to create leaves. You start small and work to a larger fly stitch. In this sample, I used a dark green wool, one strand of light green cotton floss and a green metallic machine embroidery thread. I threaded a needle with all three threads and proceeded to work fly stitches close together in leaf-like shapes.

Fly stitch sample 4

Here, I used fly stitch to represent the leaves of a rose bud. I worked it in cotton perle #5  and the bud itself which is made up of 2 bullion knots is worked in a hand-dyed silk that is about the same thickness as cotton perle #8.

Fly stitch sample 5

On this sample, I have used the same technique to secure a strip of lace on a crazy quilt project. This time, however, I worked the bullion buds in wool, and the fly stitch is cotton perle #5.

Fly stitch sample

Not only can you use it in foliage and floral motifs, you can repeat the stitch to create geometric patterns. This is fly stitch worked using wool overlapping herringbone also worked in a wool thread.

Fly stitch sample6

This is a very versatile stitch. In this case, the ties of the fly stitch are not straight stitches, but detached chain stitches. Of course, this means it is no longer fly stitch, but a variation, though it is an attractive variation to explore and play with. In this sample I used it to secure a braid to a piece of crazy quilting and I worked it in hand-dyed rayon thread.

How to work Fly Stitch

Fly stitch step by step 1

Bring the thread up through the fabric at the top left of where you want to create the stitch. Hold the thread down with your left thumb and insert the needle to the right and level of where the thread emerged. Make a stitch on a downward angle so that the needle emerges between the two points as illustrated.

Fly stitch step by step 2

With the thread wrapped under the needle, pull it through the fabric. Secure the ‘V’ in position with a small vertical straight stitch.

Fly stitch sample 8

This is another contemporary interpretation of the stitch. On this sample, I used knitting yarn, novelty yarn (that’s the hairy stuff), stranded cotton floss, perle #5 cotton, and wool.

Fly stitch sample 7

Here, I used fly stitch for the stems for little floral elements on a patch in a crazy quilted block.

Fly stitch is also known as ‘Y’ stitch, and ‘open-loop’ stitch.

Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?


Create your own designs with Sharon’s easy-to-use stitchers templates. Combine shapes to create hundreds of patterns and designs to embroider. It is the ultimate mix-and-match fun for stitchers of all skill levels. I created them to be as versatile as possible. I include four multi-patterned templates in each set. You will find them easy to use, totally clear to help you position them on your work, and they are nice and compact to fit in your sewing box. Each set comes with an e-book filled with patterns and designs that you can create and use as a jumping-off spot for your own designs. They are available now in our shop here!

Happy stitching!


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  8. Hi Sharon….a smidge late getting it posted, but I have loaded two pics of some fly stitch variations! They don't begin to compare to what others have done though! I'm going to have to really bring out the creative cells for this!! 🙂

  9. I've finally finished my week one work and posted it to my blog. When I signed up for TAST, I thought I'd be using my main blog, ArtiphyTheHeart. But as time went on, the more I thought about it, I decided that I would love to have a separate blog for embroidery and fiber arts, and ArtiPhybers was born. I just uploaded my first post to ArtiPhybers, and it's all about TAST week one. I'm sure that you have more than enough work just keeping up with us Sharon, so I won't ask you to change my TAST link from ArtiphyTheHeart to ArtiPhybers unless this is something you want to do and it won't cause trouble. Just to be sure everyone can find my TAST posts, I'll put a featured post at the top of ArtipyTheHeart, directing TAST participants to ArtiPhybers. Sorry if this causes confusion, but I felt so strongly that this new blog had to be born, and sometimes babies don't come on time.

    Here's a link to the static page of my first TAST post: http://artiphytheheart.typepad.com/artiphybers/2012/01/the-first-post.html

    Now I'm off to see what's been added since my last look at TAST blogs, and to stitch week 2.

  10. H, Sharon!! Thanks a ton for TAST.. I regreted that i quit my job but u came as a blessings for my life as i always wanted to learn embroidery..I could never imagine , this stitch could be used so beautifully… wd love to try this as a beginner.

  11. Hi Sharon, My first week is done. It's been great getting back to my needlework. Funny how when you don't do something for so long, it really does come back to you. I also created a new blog for my needlework., so here is the new link, http://northbrookstitches.blogspot.com where I'll be posting my pictures.. Thank you for this heap of work you're doing to manage all this, it's definately a labour of love for you..Romona

  12. I made a header for the sampler I decided to make this time – as I have lots of bits and pieces in folders for the previous TAST challenges, and then I enjoyed exploring Week 1 Fly Stitch using Perle 5 thread which I think has come up a bit chunky on the narrow sampler.
    The 2007 piece has been added too. Connie.
    January 6, 2012 | konnykards

  13. I had such fun with the fly stitch. I never imagined how versatile just one stitch could be! You can find my project here:

    It grew into something more complex than I had imagined and now I'm not sure how I will incorporate it into some kind of sampler or journal. Probably as a patch of some kind because I did not plan it out and ran into some problems with finishing the edges and such.

  14. Bonsoir à toutes et merci à Sharon d'avoir organisé ce challenge. Le jour je travaille alors je brode le soir. Voilà enfin mon TAST W1 terminé après 2 soirées de "travail". Vous pouvez y jeter un oeil ici : http://j-en-revais.blogspot.com/2012/01/tast-1.html

    Hi everybody and thanks a lot to Sharon who organized this challenge. Cause I'm working all day, I can stitch only on evening. It's why I needed 2 days to succeed this first part of the challenge. Here can you see it : http://j-en-revais.blogspot.com/2012/01/tast-1.html

  15. Good morning. I think I posted my TAST 1 in the wrong place. But I don't see a place to post. I do not have a blog to link to, should I post somewhere else what I have done. Should I be posting under the TAST flicker? I know I will get better when I have completed a week or so of trying things out.

    Nancy Gardner
  16. This is my 2nd attempt at the Fly Stitch (a new stitch for me). Absolutely love it! Thank you, Sharon, for suggesting it. It's a stitch I plan on using frequently. I've made several leaves and just completed my first ever snowflake using a silver DMC floss. Here's the link to my photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sue_u/. Looking forward to next week.

    Sue U in KY

    Sue Utterback
  17. Thank you Sharon for such a fun thing! I didn't know what a TAST was until I was reading someone elses blog, and now I want to do this too! I have not done the first fly stitch yet, but I will be doing it probably Thursday or Friday and posting on my blog which is http://breeswayy.blogspot.com/
    and I will have a page just for this TAST also so all the posts can be seen at once.

    How fun!!!

  18. Hi Sharon,
    Fly stitch is among my favourite stitches.I'd used it often.I'd made a fish with this stitch, the link is http://letslearnembroidery.blogspot.com/2011/08/underwater-scene-5.html.Another one is a coral – http://letslearnembroidery.blogspot.com/2011/08/underwater-scene-4.html. I'd also used this stitch to embroider peacock feathers though I haven't shown it on my blog yet.I haven't started posting this year but I promise I'll backlink this TAST challenge soon.You're doing a great job.Let's pray that this beautiful art (embroidery) won't become extinct.

  19. I love the fly stitch and have used it often in my crazy quilts. Today I used it on my bead journal project. For the project this year I will be stitching on photos I took at a car wreckers. You can check out the stitches here
    As I mention the blog post this is far from a complete journal page. The beads still need to be stitched but I think it is a good start.
    warm regards

  20. Sharon. I am following the lead of the ladies making a book of twelve monthly pages. I want to leave room for all the stitcnes we will be given this month, but I wasn't sure if there would be four or five since there are five Tuesdays (and I was thinking in terms of weeks per month, not weeks per year.) Will there be 52 stitches total given out? I know this sounds kind of obvious, but I'm just checking.

  21. Love all those different variations on fly stitch — very inspirational! Can't wait to start on my first TAST embroidery. Thanks for making this creative challenge happen!

    /Kristina from Sweden

  22. Hello fellow TASTers. Excited to be getting started, thanks Sharon for all you are doing for us. Love the first stitch but have yet to decide whether I want to create a reference piece or a creative piece……..will report on my blog when I get started. Waving to you from wild and windy England.

  23. thank you Sharon for this opportunity to learn from the leaders! waving from Connecticut!
    since I have a few blocks made already to work on, is there a special theme I should be using or should it be a sampler? thank you for answering.

    Lori Kinney
  24. Hi Sharon! You seem to be so excited about this! I have a twirly chair too!!!

    I'm not a joiner here but I'll be following along and maybe I'll still learn something new. There's always room for that!

    Happy New Year!


  25. I meant to have my fabric cut out yesterday, but other things happened, so I will do it today. I am really excited about this and want to thank you Sharon for all of your hard work, for your love of needleworking and willingness and joy in teaching us these stitches.

    Have a wonderful 2012.


  26. Somehow a period at the end of the link I had posted was picked up as part of the url link, so it didn't work. This corrects my previous comment:

    I'm a novice at specialty stitches, so my plan is to do a sample on some odd pieces of linen each week, then later in the year take what I've learned and do something more creative. This is the first time I've worked with the Fly Stitch, and my sample can be found on my blog at http://OctoberLace.blogspot.com specifically on my Take A Stitch Tuesday (TAST) page found at:

    Thank you for offering this challenge!

  27. I'm a novice at specialty stitches, so my plan is to do a sample on some odd pieces of linen each week, then later in the year take what I've learned and do something more creative. This is the first time I've worked with the Fly Stitch, and my sample can be found on my blog at OctoberLace.blogspot.com, specifically on my Take A Stitch Tuesday (TAST) page found at:

    Thank you for offering this challenge!

  28. I live near Vienna, Austria, but now I'm waving back from Mauritius. Thanks so much for running this challenge! I wish you a Happy New Year 2012! Sitting at the sea under a palm tree I will start with the Fly Stitch! 🙂 Warm regards Claudia

  29. Thanks so much for all the examples of how to do the fly stitch – tomorrow is Tuesday for us in California. I have my fabric cut and thread ready. I have so many ideas and as a beginner my brain is on overload. I will learn much from all of you.

    Nancy Gardner
  30. Waving back to you from Queensland, Australia, Long time since I did hand embroidery but think I will give it a go this year. Have some beautiful seed beads that I can add along the way. Look forward to this new challenge.


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