How to Crochet Shell Stitch

Free Pattern for Classic DC Shell in Colorful Striped Rows

How to Crochet Shell Stitch
Mollie Johanson

The crochet shell stitch is an advanced beginner crochet stitch that adds decorative appeal to projects. It makes a great border, or you can work it in rows. Crochet the shell stitch in a single color to create a beautiful texture or change colors from row to row for a more intricate design.

There are many shell stitch variations as well as different ways to incorporate shell stitches into your projects. This version uses four colors, but if you'd rather work yours all in one color, skip the color changes. Of course, you can also use fewer or more than four colors.

Ready to learn how to crochet shell stitch? Grab a hook in a size that matches your yarn weight and get started!

  • 01 of 09

    Make the Starting Chain and Begin Row 1

    Single Crochet Into the Second Chain
    Mollie Johanson

    Using your first color of yarn, work a starting or foundation chain. The starting chain should have of a series of chain stitches in a multiple of six stitches plus one. For example, when making a swatch, use a starting chain of 31 (five multiples of six plus one extra stitch).

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

  • 02 of 09

    Crochet the First Shell

    Double Crochet Five Times Into the Same Chain
    Mollie Johanson

    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.

    This set of five double crochet stitches creates the shell.

  • 03 of 09

    Anchor The first Crochet Shell

    Anchor the Shell Stitch With a Single Crochet
    Mollie Johanson

    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, anchored on each side.

    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.

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

  • 04 of 09

    Change Colors and Make a Turning Chain

    Make a Turning Chain at the End of the Row
    Mollie Johanson

    If you want to continue working in the same color, without doing any color changes, complete the single crochet stitch, 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, work the last single crochet stitch without completing the last step of the stitch.

    Attach your new yarn color and complete the stitch. 

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

    When working in more color, you may want to weave in the ends 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.

    Another option is to crochet over the ends to secure them. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Begin Row 2 With a Half Shell

    Make Two Double Crochets Into the Same Chain
    Mollie Johanson

    Turn your work around and work 2 double crochet 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.

  • 06 of 09

    Anchor the Half Shell

    Anchor the Shell Stitch
    Mollie Johanson

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

  • 07 of 09

    Continue Row 2

    Continue Adding Shell Stitches in the Gaps
    Mollie Johanson

    Skip the next 2 stitches. Work a group of five double crochets (another shell) into the next stitch. 

    Repeat these steps over and over again across the row:

    • Skip the next 2 stitches. Work a single crochet stitch into the middle of the next shell.
    • Skip the next 2 stitches. Work a group of 5 double crochet stitches into the next stitch.

    When you reach the end of the row, work 3 double crochet stitches into the last single crochet, forming another half shell.

  • 08 of 09

    Change Colors and Begin Row 3

    Change Colors and Start With a Single Crochet
    Mollie Johanson

    Change to your next color of yarn and chain one for the turning chain.

    Work a single crochet stitch into the first stitch.

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

    • Skip the next 2 stitches. Work a group of 5 double crochet stitches into the next stitch.
    • Skip the next 2 stitches. Work a single crochet stitch into the middle of the next shell.

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

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Crochet Shells: Continue Pattern

    Multicolor Shell Stitch Crochet
    Mollie Johanson

    Repeat rows 2 and 3 for your pattern repeat until you reach the desired length for your crochet shell stitch project.

    If you're also working in a color pattern, remember to keep your color pattern consistent as well.