Feather and Fern Stitches

Feather and Fern Stitch Embroidery Diagrams and Variations

Feather stitches are comprised of interlocking u-shaped loops of thread. This family of stitches is very simple to work, yet produces elaborate, airy and delicate-looking stitches. The simplest forms of the stitch can be used along straight and curved lines in an embroidery pattern or project, while the more elaborate and wider varieties are best used as bands and borders.

Fern stitch is also used to create airy stitches, but is worked using groups of straight stitches instead of looped stitches.

  • 01 of 08

    Basic Feather Stitch

    Feather Stitch - Basic. © Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

    The feather stitch is a textured stitch that can be used to create open, airy lines of stitching along curved or straight lines. It can be marked on the fabric or worked as a counted stitch. It's one of the most basic and popular embroidery stitches that can be used to create an edging, used as a surface embroidery stitch, or to stitch elements in place on an embroidery project. It is worked using open half-loops of stitching in single or multiple rows.

    It can also be used along fabric edges as an edge finish, or to attach appliques, and can be used to create fern fronds, pine boughs, aquatic plants and textured fill lines in an embroidery project.

  • 02 of 08

    Double Feather Stitch

    Feather Stitch - Double. © Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

    In this version of the feather stitch, stitches are worked in left and right facing groups of 3 staggered stitches, forming a more intricate band of stitching that can be used for wide bands and borders. This stitch looks beautiful as a banded strip of embroidery on clothing and table linens. Work the stitch a few inches from the hemmed edge for maximum impact.

  • 03 of 08

    Straight Feather Stitch

    Straight Feather Stitch. © Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

    The Straight Feather Stitch is worked in the same manner as the basic feather stitch show on the previous page, with the exception of the loops lining up. When working the straight feather stitch, the loops spaced one under the other along one side (in this case, aligned to the left), giving a straight appearance on the right or left side.

    This stitch looks really pretty when used as an edging for a Redwork embroidery design or to attach appliques.

    It also looks really nice worked in two rows, having the stitch facing the opposite directions and the rows spaced an inch or two apart. The area between the two rows can be filled with other embroidery stitches to form a unique stitches band, or use the stitch to tack down two sides of a printed decorative ribbon.

  • 04 of 08

    Closed Feather Stitch

    Closed Feather Stitch. © Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

    The Closed Feather Stitch is worked in the same manner as the basic feather stitch show in Step 1, with the exception of the loops lining up along the side edges, forming a closed edge. When working the closed feather stitch, the entry point of the successive loops are placed in the same spot on the fabric as the exit point of the preceding loops.

    This stitch can also be used as a couching stitch to tack down lengths of ribbon.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Fly Stitch

    The Fly Stitch. © Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

    The Fly Stitch is similar to the feather stitch in that it uses a single loop of thread tacked in place. The difference is that it forms a single stitch.

    Use this stitch as a scattered filling, in engineered rows or bands, or individually. I've seen this stitch used to represent birds in flight in landscape embroideries.

  • 06 of 08

    Basic Fern Stitch

    Fern Stitch. © Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

    The fern stitch is a surface embroidery stitch used to create an open, lacy stitch along a straight or curved line. It's beautiful worked as tree branches, ferns, or seaweed in a project.

    Each section of the fern stitch is worked as a group of three straight stitches, all worked into the same ending hole. The groups are stitched repeatedly to make a row or line of textured stitching.

  • 07 of 08

    Feathered Chain Stitch

    Feathered Chain Stitch. © Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

    The Feathered Chain Stitch is a decorative hand embroidery stitch that utilizes detached chain stitches arranged in a zig-zag pattern as if working the feather stitch, forming a hybridized stitch.

    This highly textured surface embroidery stitch is wider than a standard chain stitch, making it perfect for use in wide bands and rows. It looks beautiful framing an embroidered band on a towel, or when used around the sides of a tablecloth spacing it about 5 inches from the edges.

  • 08 of 08

    Feather Stitch Variations

    More variations on the basic feather stitch. This stitch can be varied in many ways by spacing the u-shaped loops differently than shown in the above samples, creating stitch bands with straight center lines or straight sides.