Barred Chain Stitch

Barred Chain Stitch

barred chain stitch sample 4

Barred chain is an extreme form of Twisted chain stitch. As experienced stitchers know, the chain stitch family has numerous varieties, of which Barred chain stitch is an interesting example.

Just like Chain stitch, Barred chain stitch is a linear stitch that will follow curves well and can be easily worked on all types of fabrics. It is easy and quick to work and suitable for a large variety of threads.

This stitch is very suitable for freeform stitching and combines easily with beads.

Using Barred Chain Stitch

You can influence the size and appearance of the stitch by varying the size and spacing of the prongs. Since the appeal of this stitch is based on the textured nature of the line produced, you can be very creative and experimental with the thread you use. And you can easily combine it with other textured stitches to produce interesting results. You can overlap lines of the stitch or use it to couch down another thread.

barred chain stitch sample 4

You can use Barred Chain stitch as thorny outbursts in floral motifs if you are a traditional stitcher. (Yes a ‘thorny outburst’ sounds like a teenage mood swing but I am sure you will understand what I mean 🙂 ).

This factor, in combination with explorations varying the:

  • length of the spines,
  • size of the chain,
  • spacing of the spines,
  • width of the line,
  • weight and texture of the thread,

should keep most contemporary embroiderers intrigued. Explore the scale you work in and I am sure you will have interesting results.

How to work Barred Chain stitch

To work Barred chain stitch you need to be familiar with chain stitch.

step by step barred chain stitch 1

Working down the line start with a basic chain stitch.

step by step barred chain stitch 2

Insert the needle to the left of the first chain stitch with the point of the needle out a short space along the line to be stitched. This can vary depending upon how wide you want the ‘spike’ of the chain. The wider the gap the larger the spike.

step by step barred chain stitch 3

Wrap the thread under the needle’s point towards the right and pull the needle through the fabric. The thread should cross as you do this, producing a crossed stitch as illustrated.

step by step barred chain stitch 4

Next, make a basic chain stitch. Repeat this pattern of one basic chain and one barred chain stitch as you work down the line.

step by step barred chain stitch 5

Barred chain stitch can look effective if you add a seed bead to the end of each spine.

barred chain stitch sample 3

You can also create an interesting textured surface if you use bulky threads and work it row upon row together.

barred chain stitch sample 2

Return to the stitch dictionary index


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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  5. Barred chain and the previous 4 stitches are found here.
    My project challenge is stitching onto paper.

    This was really hard til I got nearly 3/4 round the circle. I had to have the page open on the computer to remind myself where the thread went. then I realised it is laid the same way I do the chain anyway!
    So, I hope to try the alternating chain and get totally confused!
    Sandy in the UK

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