Feathered Chain Stitch

Feathered Chain Stitch

Feathered Chain Stitch is made up of long tailed chain stitch worked in a zig-zag manner. Long-tail chain is simply a chain stitch with a long tie stitch.  If you are a beginner you need to be able to work chain stitch before doing this variety.

Work each long tail chain stitch on a diagonal slant, alternating from left and right. I find it easier to work this stitch from top to bottom between two imaginary lines bit if you want a neat zigzag line some people find it useful to mark the fabric with two parallel guide lines.

How to work Long Tail Chain stitch

Feathered chain stitch step 1

Bring the needle up through the fabric on the right-hand line. Insert the needle back into where it emerged from and take it through the fabric bringing the point of the needle diagonally across the line as illustrated. The needle should point towards the left.

Feathered chain stitch step 2

Wrap under the needle point as you would for chain stitch and pull the needle through. On the same diagonal line tie the chain down with a long straight stitch. The tie stitch should finish on the left hand line.

When you work this stitch in a single unit it is called a long-tailed chain. I think you can see why. You can arrange long-tailed chain stitch in all sorts of ways. Circles are a common pattern as they then look like flower petals. There are also varieties that weave the spokes created by long-tail chain when arranged in a circle.

You can find some of these varieties illustrated here

How to work Feathered Chain stitch

hand embroidery Feathered chain stitch step 3

To make the second stitch bring the needle up through the fabric on the left-hand imaginary line, close to the end of the tie stitch. Have a thread or two between where the tie stitch went into the fabric, and where your needle emerges.

Feathered chain stitch step4

Work another long tail chain stitch pointing back towards the right-hand imaginary line.

Feathered chain stitch step 5

Continue in this zig-zag motion downwards.

Feathered chain stitch step 6

This is not a true feather stitch as such, but that is how it is referred to in books. I think of it as zig-zag chain stitch.

Close detail of thread twisties

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.


  1. Hmmm Im not sure Im happy with this stitch. It doesnt feel like a feather stitch. It feels like lazy daisy when you work it. So I change it to what I feel is more feather. Start by making the first feather stitch but catch it with a chain loop. Catch the chain loop with another feather stitch (the straight part of the chain and swing it over to the left like a normal feather catching it again with a chain loop. Continue working left and right with the chain loops and you get a feathered chain. It looks very different because you get the loop chain effect in the centre not on the outside and it has the natural rhythm of the feather stitch, Just a thought. You could still add beads to the straight part of the stitch.


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