June 6, 2015

Learn the Butterfly Chain Stitch

Happy Weekend, fellow stitchers!

It's the first weekend in June, which means summer is officially on the way. I bet many of you are preparing for long weeks ahead filled with travel, gardening projects or maybe figuring out how to entertain your kiddos when they finish up the school year! If that's the case, hopefully you have another week or two to relax and take some time out for yourself, which is why this is the perfect weekend to learn another stitch!

Today we're learning the Butterfly Chain Stitch, a very pretty border/band stitch that you can work on pretty much any fabric or canvas. Maybe it's just because it has the word butterfly in the name, but to me this stitch is perfect for summer. It's simple, but there is a special method to doing it correctly. In fact, I realized after I had taken all my photos that I had done the stitch incorrectly, so I had to go back and do it all again!

Setting up the stitch is simple. I'm working on pretty pale blue aida I found in my stash with stranded floss in a few different colors. To start, you'll make a series of three straight stitches evenly spaced across your fabric. These can be any size you want, and spaced any way you want.

Since I'm working on aida fabric, it's easy to put the exact same amount of space between your stitches, in my case 3. But if you're working on linen or cotton you can measure your spaces by making small notches on your finger to help with your spacing, like in the picture in the middle. Make as many sections as you like to fit your space. 

Now here's our trick. Sometimes a picture can do more for me than anything else, so I'll start there!

You'll work the decorative part of your band from right to left. Come up with your fabric to the far right of your last section of stitches. Place your floss over all three stitches. It helps to hold it tight out to the left, especially if you're working with a long piece of thread, so you can create a little loop for your needle. Slip your needle under the three stitches, then over the thread you're holding out to the side, and pull through. (If you're familiar with the twisted chain stitch, this is just like that!) Pull your stitch tight so that the thread pulls the three straight stitches together and pinches them in the middle.

Without piercing your fabric, repeat on all the other stacks. This part of the stitch is worked completely on top of the fabric. Here's another photo further down the row. You'll notice I change colors here, because this is the part I had to redo, after I had done all my other rows correctly :)

And there you have it- the Butterfly Chain Stitch! I love how creative you can be with this technique. I made a little sampler of different versions, most of which I just made up because I thought they would look neat!

I played with the spacing of my straight stitches on the top two rows, doing an even increase/decrease on both sides for the top one, then just showing different spacings on the second. To me, the more space you leave the more celebratory the band becomes. Our middle band is straight forward and by the book. Below that I really enjoyed playing with size. I did sets that were double the height with two evenly spaced decorative chain stitches on top. I think it looks like a little picket fence! The last one is my favorite. The center stitch of each section is slightly longer than the outer two, which makes our pinched sections look like little stars. This option would be lovely on a retro themed project or maybe even and art deco design.

I hope you enjoyed learning this new stitch with me! What ideas do you have for incorporating this into your every day stitching? Share them in the comments below or post projects in our Flickr pool for everyone to see. Happy Stitching!

Hi, I'm Whitney - I share a new embroidery stitch on the blog once a month, learning as I stitch along with the rest of the blog. Embroidery is my first and true crafty love, though I also enjoy painting, sewing and other crafts. My other loves include graphic design, craft beer and baking.

You can also find me on my blog Whitney Makes and on Tumblr.

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