How to Crochet HDC Shell Edging

Yellow crochet shell stitch edging around blue yarn.
Kathryn Vercillo

It's easy to crochet this beautiful crochet shell stitch edging pattern. The pattern can be worked as a single row as a decorative edge on towels and pillowcases, but the instructions also included information about turning corners with this edging so that you can work it on many other projects as well. For example, you can use this free crochet shell pattern for crocheting blanket borders, adding an organic edge around the whole of a scarf, or for finishing off any other type of project that needs nice scalloped crochet edging.

Skill Level: Beginner

This is a very simple crochet pattern that uses basic stitches, particularly highlighting the half double crochet stitch. It is a great choice for a beginner to use when adding an edging to anything from a washcloth to an afghan.

Crochet Abbreviations Used in This Pattern:

How to Half Double Crochet

In case you need a reminder, each half double crochet stitch is created with the following steps:

  • Yarn over.
  • Insert hook into stitch.
  • Yarn over.
  • Pull through.
  • Yarn over.
  • Pull through all three loops on hook.

HDC Edging Free Crochet Pattern

This edging is a multiple of 4 + 1 stitches. This means if you are starting with a chain then you crochet a multiple of 4 plus 1 (for example, 21 or 37 stitches). You may not be starting with a chain; you may instead be starting by working into the edge of a finished work such as a blanket. The basic concept and counting will be the same. Try to add this pattern to a project that already has a final row/round count that is a multiple of 4 + 1; if this isn't possible, you can cheat the pattern around the corners (or start in a stitch or two on a row) to adjust.

Basic Crochet Edging Instructions

This is a one-row crochet pattern that creates a narrow border.

  • Sl st in first st.
  • [Skip the next st, work 5 hdc in the next st, skip next st, sl st in next st.]
  • Repeat sequence in brackets all the way across the row. You'll end this row with a sl st.
  • End off. Weave in these ends and any other remaining loose ends.

Versions With Corners

You can use this as an afghan edging or edging for other items with corners, where you want to work the shell border all the way around the entire piece. To do so, use the instructions as given above; when you get to a corner, ch 1, sl st in first st on the next side, and continue working in pattern.

If you want the corner to look a little fancier, you could work a picot stitch into the corner instead. Here's how to do that: When you get to the corner, after working the last sl st in the row, ch 3, sc in 3rd ch from hook, sl st in first st on the next side, and continue working in pattern.

Adding Colors

This scalloped crochet edging pattern looks best when the shell stitch is worked in a color that contrasts yet harmonizes with the project. Of course, you can also opt to work this in the same color as the main project if you want a subtler design.

You can add another color to the edging itself by easily by working a row or round of surface crochet slip stitches to create an outline where the edging touches the main body of the project.

Vintage Crochet Inspirations

This crochet edging pattern is inspired in part by the shell stitch edging shown on Page 92 of "The Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches" by Sylvia Cosh and James Walters published in 1986 by Lyric Books Limited. However, that pattern uses double crochet stitches instead of half double crochet stitches, making the version here shorter than the original. Additionally, the vintage crochet pattern uses sc stitches where this one uses slip stitches. Both this pattern shown here and the one in the book are derivatives of traditional classic shell stitch patterns originally published in vintage crochet manuals. There are many different ways to work with crochet shell stitch, and it can be a lot of fun to look for and play around with different variations.

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