How to Crochet Shell Stitch

Free Pattern for Classic DC Shell in Colorful Striped Rows

The crochet shell stitch is an advanced beginner crochet stitch. It adds decorative appeal to projects. It can be used as a border, or it can be worked in rows. When worked in rows, the shell stitch can be crocheted in a single color or you can change colors from row to row for a more intricate design.

There are many different ways you could crochet shell stitches and many different shell stitch variations. There are also many different ways to incorporate shell stitches into your projects. When...MORE you've finished with this tutorial, please be sure to check out our other pages about shell stitches too!

  • 01 of 16

    Crochet Shell Stitch in Multi-Colored Rows

    Crochet Shell Stitch

    Michael Solovay 

    This tutorial will show step-by-step how to crochet shell stitch in rows with color changes in each row. There are a total of four colors used here.

    Yarn

    The yarn used here is Caron Simply Soft in the following colors:

    • Color A: Sage (the green color)
    • Color B: Bone (the tan color)
    • Color C: Blue Mint (the bright blue / turquoise color)
    • Color D: Off White (the eggshell / cream color)

    Color Variations

    If you'd rather work yours all in one color, no problem; just skip the color changes mentioned in the instructions below. Of course, you can also use fewer or more than four colors if you so choose.

  • 02 of 16

    Crochet Shell Stitch: Starting Chain

    Starting Chain

    Michael Solovay 

    Using Color A, work your starting chain. The starting chain will consist of a series of chain stitches in a multiple of six stitches plus one. For example, use a starting chain of 31 (five multiples of six plus one extra stitch).

  • 03 of 16

    Crochet Shell Stitch: Begin Row 1

    Single Crochet Into Second Chain From Hook

    Michael Solovay

    Work a single crochet stitch into the second chain stitch from your hook.

  • 04 of 16

    Crochet Shell Stitch: First She'll

    Double Crochet Shell

    Michael Solovay 

    Skip the next two chain stitches. Then work a double crochet stitch into the next chain stitch after that. Work four more double crochet stitches into the same chain stitch, for a total of five double crochets.

    These sets of five double crochet stitches create the shell; they are anchored on either side by single crochet stitches, which enhances the shape.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    Anchor The first Crochet Shell with a SC

    Crochet Shell

    Michael Solovay

    Skip the next two chain stitches. Then work a single crochet stitch into the next chain stitch after the unworked chains. Now you have your first completed crochet shell, and on either side is a single crochet with a ch-2 space.

  • 06 of 16

    Crochet Shells To End of Row

    Crochet Shells

    Michael Solovay

    Repeat the following:

    • Skip the next two chains
    • Work five double crochet stitches into the next chain stitch
    • Skip two chains
    • Single crochet in next chain

    Repeat until the end of the row, ending with a single crochet in the final stitch.

  • 07 of 16

    Note: One Row Makes a Crochet Shell Stitch Trim

    Michael Solovay

    A single row of crochet shells like this makes a great trim. You can add that to the border of any crochet project. You can also attach it to fabric, such as tablecloths, by sewing it on.

    Simply complete the last single crochet stitch as usual, end off, and weave in your ends.

  • 08 of 16

    Attaching New Yarn Color For Row Two

    Crochet Shell Stitch Color Change

    Michael Solovay

    If you want to continue working in the same color, without doing any color changes, you would complete the single crochet stitch as usual, but do not end off. Skip the color change instructions and then pick up when you get to the turning chain instructions.

    If you're working rows of shell stitch using more than one color, you'll want to work the last single crochet stitch without completing the last step of the stitch.

    Attach your new yarn color then complete the stitch. For more info about color changes, you may wish to view this tutorial for how to change colors.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Crochet Shell Stitch: Turning Chain

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Work a turning chain of three chain stitches. This will count as your first ​double crochet stitch in the new row.

  • 10 of 16

    Tip: Weave in Ends as You Go

    Michael Solovay

    When working in more color, it's worth it to weave your ends in as you go. Cut the first color and weave in the end at this point, along with the end generated at the beginning of the work.

    For more info, learn how to avoid weaving in ends in crochet.

    Another options is to try crocheting overtop of them to secure them better. 

  • 11 of 16

    Crochet Shells: Row 2, Half Shell

    Crochet Shell Start of Row

    Michael Solovay

    Continue working row 2: Work 2 more dc stitches into the first stitch. If you count your turning chain as a double crochet stitch, this gives you a total of 3 stitches at the beginning of the row.

  • 12 of 16

    Continue Row 2

    Crochet Shell Stitches

    Michael Solovay

    Skip the next 2 double crochet stitches, and work a single crochet stitch into the next double crochet. The stitch to work into is the center stitch in the grouping of shell stitches in the row below.

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Continue Row 2: First Full Shell

    Crochet Shell Stitch

    Michael Solovay

    Skip the next 2 double crochet stitches. After that, you'll work a group of five double crochets (another shell) into the next single crochet stitch. 

     

  • 14 of 16

    Complete Row 2

    Crochet Shells

    Michael Solovay

    Repeat these steps over and over again across the row:

    • single crochet in the middle of the next shell
    • 5 dc in next single crochet stitch

    When you reach the end of the row, you want to end by working 3 double crochet stitches into the last single crochet.

  • 15 of 16

    Crochet Shell Stitch: Row 3

    Crochet Shell Stitch in 3 Colors

    Michael Solovay

    Change to Color C.

    Chain one for turning chain.

    Work a single crochet stitch into the first stitch.

    Skip the next 2 double crochet stitches; work a group of 5 double crochet stitches into the next single crochet stitch.

    Skip the next 2 double crochet stitches. Work a single crochet stitch into the middle of the next shell.

    Repeat this sequence across the row, alternating shells and single crochet stitches all the way across.

    At the end of the row, work your last single crochet stitch into the turning chain. 

  • 16 of 16

    Crochet Shells: Continue Pattern

    Repeat rows 2 and 3 for your pattern repeat.

    If you're also working in a color pattern, remember to keep your color pattern consistent as well. For example, you will use Color D for Row 4, then go back to Color A for Row 5, Color B for Row 6, etc.

    Continue repeating rows 2-3 until you have the length desired for your crochet shell stitch project.