The butterfly crochet stitch is a stitch pattern worked across multiple stitches and multiple rows. This makes it different from a basic crochet stitch, such as a single crochet or a double crochet, which is worked in a single stitch in a single row. It also makes crochet butterfly stitch different from a cluster stitch, which is worked across multiple stitches but is still worked in only one row. In that sense, the butterfly stitch is a more complex stitch, but it's really fairly simple, which you will see as soon as you first try to crochet it. In fact, the crochet butterfly is basically just made up of chains and a single crochet stitch, things that you likely already know how to do well.
Butterfly Crochet Stitch: Before You Begin
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Begin Butterfly Crochet Stitch With Chain
As with most crochet projects, your butterfly crochet stitch is going to begin with a basic chain. The number of chains in your project will depend on how long each butterfly is going to be and how many butterflies you want in each row. This will vary greatly so we won't try to predict the length of your starting chain. Suffice to say that it must be at least as long as the number of chains in your butterfly, plus the number of stitches you want on either side of the chain.
So in our case, let's say we'll have five hdc stitches on either side of a butterfly that itself is ten stitches long. Our starting chain has to be as long as five plus five (for either side of the butterfly) plus ten (for the butter) so that equals 2 stitches. Plus we need the extra stitch for the turning chain. Our starting chain would have to be that long at a minimum. So, for our purposes, let's begin with a starting chain of 21.
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Crochet a Row of Basic Stitches (Optional)
Your butterfly crochet stitch is going to be worked amidst a pattern of basic crochet stitches, as described above. You can begin the butterfly stitch in the first row of your project if you want or you can begin with a row of just the basic stitches. In our example, we are going to do a row of half double crochet stitches, so we just did hdc all the way across the first row. Then we did a turning chain of two (the proper height for hdc) and turned the work.
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Crochet Basic Stitches Up To Your Butterfly Stitch
In this row, you are going to continue to crochet basic stitches until you are ready to make your butterfly crochet stitch. The number of stitches you will make varies by pattern. In our example, we are going to crochet five hdc stitches before we start our butterfly stitch.
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Row 1 Butterfly Chain
Okay, now we're going to begin our butterfly, which at first is just going to look like a crochet chain. Chain as many stitches as there are across the length of your butterfly; in our example, we will make a chain ten.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Begin Row 4: Basic Stitches and Half Chain
Now we are on the fourth row of the butterfly. (Remember that this is actually row five of the project since you first created a whole row of hdc stitches).
Crochet your basic stitches (5 hdc). Then chain half of the stitches for the butterfly, so chain five stitches.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Single Crochet Around All Chains
This is where your chains begin to get that butterfly look. You're going to make one single crochet around the midpoint of all three of the crochet chains. So, insert your crochet hook from front to back underneath all three chains, yarn over, draw up a loop, yarn over and pull through both loops on hook. This secures all of your chains at the center, creating your shape.
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Repeat Stitch Pattern for Additional Butterflies!
That's it, you've made a butterfly crochet stitch. You can repeat the steps above to continue the pattern. You would add a row of hdc, three rows of butterfly chains and a fifth row that closes the butterfly, making your butterflies line up with the ones from the rows below.
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Variations for Butterfly Crochet Stitch
There are a lot of options when you crochet butterfly stitch. We already discussed that you can vary the stitch pattern around it, using different types of basic stitches like the half double crochet. In butterfly stitch, you crochet a few basic crochet stitches, then make your butterfly, then crochet more basic stitches. You can vary the design by changing the number of stitches between each butterfly, putting them closer together or further apart.
You can also choose to vary the number of stitches in the butterfly chains to make them shorter or longer. We are going to use ten, so we'll crochet chains of ten, skip ten stitches and make our next stitch in the eleventh stitch. But you can make butterflies as small or as large as you want by changing their stitch length. Just make sure to keep it consistent across all chains.
Note that it is best to choose an even number because in the fourth row you need to crochet half of the stitches, single crochet one, then crochet the other half of the stitches; even numbers give you even chains on either side of each single crochet. You can fudge it with odd numbers by rounding up or down (up is more common) but it's easier to just go with even numbers of chains if possible.
Sometimes you will only have one butterfly stitch in the pattern, like when it serves as a decorative bow detail in a crochet hat pattern. But sometimes you'll have rows of butterfly stitches on top of one another. In this instance, you can choose to either place the butterflies vertically right above one another or to stagger them in different places across the row. You can also choose to have rows of basic stitches between the rows with butterflies or just begin the butterflies immediately in the fifth row (since the fourth row is where you close the butterfly). These variations can create different effects. Of course, if you're working from a butterfly crochet pattern then the designer will tell you what to do but if you're doing your own designs then it can be fun to play around with these different butterfly stitch variations.
Finally, you may wish to forego the crochet butterfly stitch altogether and instead to make other butterfly crochet appliqués / designs.