The Oyster stitch is a member of the chain stitch family and although it looks complex, it is not difficult. Oyster stitch is also very versatile, as you can often adapt it to use in situations where you would use chain stitch. It creates a textured, slightly raised, stitch that is fun to work and adds variety to your hand embroidery. When worked in a line, Oyster stitch becomes Knotted Cable Chain stitch. You can also work a beaded variety. I wrote a tutorial on Beaded oyster stitch here.
Step by step instructions on how to do Oyster Stitch
You start Oyster stitch with a twisted chain stitch.
Commence, by bringing the thread to the front of the fabric, insert the needle, and take a bit of fabric with the tip pointed downwards. Wrap the needle as you would a twisted chain. In other words, cross the working thread over the needle, then wrap the thread under the needle.
Pull the needle through the fabric to create a twisted chain stitch. Pull your working thread snug, until the loop lies flat, but not so tight that it pulls on the fabric.
Pass the needle under the right-hand top thread above the loop that has formed. Slide the needle through without picking up the foundation fabric.
Pull the thread through.
Insert the needle through the fabric at the top of the stitch, with the needle pointed downwards, slide it behind the knot so that the needle exits the cloth at the base as illustrated.
Loop the thread under the needle (as you would for a chain stitch) and pull the needle through. Tie it off by taking your thread to the back of the fabric, as you would a detached chain stitch.
It can be used as buds in floral motifs or worked in a circle with the stitches pointing outwards to create flowers.
If you extend the last tie-off stitch that secures the chain, to a long straight stitch you have another variety.
You can use these pointed towards the middle of the circle or outwards to create daisy and flower-like motifs.
These samples were worked using a cotton perle #5 thread that is variegated.
It has a highly textured appearance so sprinklings of this stitch in contemporary work produce a knobbly relief, particularly when worked in a thread with a good twist or a fine ribbon.
And of course, it is great in crazy quilting.
Here I worked the seam using a hand dyed cotton thread that is the same thickness as perle #5 I worked Up and Down Buttonhole stitch. At the bottom of the ‘arms’ then worked Oyster stitch in rayon ribbon floss that was hand dyed. This crazy quilt seam detail comes from block 77 in the I Dropped the Button Box series. You can see that block here
I hope you enjoy the stitch!
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Experimenting with different threads can be expensive. You would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. My thread twisties are a combination of different threads to use in creative hand embroidery. These enable you to try out stitching with something other than stranded cotton. For the price of just a few skeins, you can experiment with a bundle of threads of luscious colours and many different textures.
These are creative embroiders threads. With them, I hope to encourage you to experiment. Each Twistie is a thread bundle containing silk, cotton, rayon and wool. Threads range from extra fine (the same thickness as 1 strand of embroidery floss) to chunky couchable textured yarns. All threads have a soft and manageable drape. Twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle. Many are hand-dyed by me. All are threads I use. You may find a similar thread twist but no two are identical.
You will find my thread twisties in the Pintangle shop here.