Twisted Chain Stitch or Rope Stitch

Rope stitch sampleTwisted Chain stitch and Rope stitch are two very similar stitches. In fact Rope stitch ( as seen in the stems of the floral motif above) is simply twisted chain stitch worked closely together in a compact manner along the line.

Twisted Chain sample 1

This is an example of twisted chain worked in an open manner. I used pale yellow rayon ribbon floss and the stitches were open enough to tuck bugle beads into the spaces between them.

Twisted Chain rope stitch freeform sample

This sample is lines of rope stitch stacked next to each other worked in free form manner in different threads. As you can see all samples look as if they are different stitches but actually they are the same stitch spaced differently.

Twisted chain stitch is one of those handy stitches which after you master it you wonder how you lived without it! Worked close together it forms a good solid textured line which is ideal for outlining shapes or used to illustrated stems in floral motifs. It  can be used in most situations where you need a clear raised line.

How to work Twisted Chain Stitch and Rope Stitch

Once your hands understand the twist – or the wrap over the needle, Twisted Chain stitch becomes simple, quick and falls into a rhythm with ease. You can work this stitch horizontally or vertically.

Twisted Chain step by step 1To work rope stitch bring the working thread up through the fabric and insert the needle so that the point emerges a short space along the line to be stitched. Cross the thread over the needle and wrap the thread under the needle point as illustrated.

Twisted Chain step by step 2Next  pull the needle through the fabric. As you pull the thread through notice how you have loop that is crossed. This is the twisted chain stitch.

Twisted Chain step by step 3

Insert your needle on the  side of the stitch you just made. Bring the point of the needle out a short space along the line to be stitched and cross the thread over the needle as illustrated. Wrap the thread under the needle point and pull the needle through the fabric.

Twisted Chain step by step 4Continue in this manner down the line.

Twisted Chain step by step 5Twisted chain stitch follows curves with ease and if you work it close together as rope stitch it is ideal for strong linear elements.

A large variety of threads can be used from the finest thread to silk ribbon. The width of the stitch will depend on the weight of the thread used. The thicker the thread the thicker the line created.

Rope stitch can also be stacked line upon line similar to what you can do with stem stitch. This means you can graduate colour, tone, light to dark  or graduate from thin to thick threads.
Twisted chain stitch Rope stitch sample
As I have said Rope stitch is a twisted chain worked closely together so keep the next stitches close together. Rope stitch is also called Knotted Satin stitch. I mostly use rope stitch as a linear stitch in stems in floral motifs. Here is a sample above I have used in crazy quilting are worked using perle 5 thread.

There is another version of the stitch in which the stitches are stacked horizontally producing a thick band. This version is documented in Marion Nichols Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches

The vertical version of the stitch is documented in The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden  and the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches and the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches: v. 2 I took rope stitch to be the version that appears in most publications.


Thread Twisties!

Close detail of thread twisties

Experimenting with different threads can be expensive, as you would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. So I have made up my thread twisties which 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 so that 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.


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