How to Work the Single Detached Chain Stitch
The detached chain stitch often called the single chain stitch, is a looped embroidery stitch that is part of the chain stitch family. The shape typically looks like a teardrop or flower petal shape, which makes it useful for stitching those motifs. But it's also a bit of a building block stitch and therefore it's an important stitch to learn.
Basic chain stitch is formed by linking several (or many) of these stitches together along a line but leaving the small "tacking" stitch until only the very end. Once you learn one of these two stitches, it's fairly easy to learn the other.
Standard Detached Chain
To work the detached chain stitch, bring the needle up through the fabric at your starting point (point 1).
Insert the needle again at the starting point (point 2) and pull the thread through so there is a small loop of thread on the surface. Bring the needle up a short distance from the starting point (point 3), catching the loop of the thread as you pull it through.
If you prefer working with the sewing method, keeping your needle on the front of the work as much as possible, try this: after you insert the needle at point 2, bring the tip up through the fabric a short distance away (point 3), catching the loop of thread.
Insert the needle back into the fabric on the opposite side of the loop of thread (point 4), tacking it in place.
Repeat the process to make additional stitches.
Reversed Detached Chain
Another way to make this stitch is to follow the method of reversed chain stitch. This version prevents the possibility of pulling the loop of thread through the fabric. As the name suggests, you work it a little backward.
Bring the needle up through the fabric at what will be the curved end of the stitch (point 3). Take the needle back down (point 4), forming the tacking stitch.
Come back up a short distance from the tacking stitch (point 1) and then slide the needle under the tacking stitch. Insert the needle at the pointed end of the stitch (point 2).
This method is helpful at times, but won't work for making lazy daisies.
Tips for Working Single Chain Stitch
As you work this stitch, watch out for a twisting thread. If the thread twists, the stitch will become oddly shapen. This is especially true when working with stranded cotton embroidery floss, so be sure to let your thread and needle untwist regularly.
The shape of this stitch will vary depending on how tight you pull the loop of thread and you should use this to your advantage. Keep the loop loose for a rounder and wider stitch or pull it tight for a narrower and sharper stitch.
If you find that the stitch isn't the shape you want, it's best to pull it out entirely and start over, rather than trying to pull and adjust the threads through the fabric.
Uses and Variations
There are so many ways to use this versatile stitch and as you follow embroidery patterns you'll see that it's found in so many designs.
Single chain stitches make excellent small leaves, raindrops, the loops of a tiny bow, feathers and more. Stitch them scattered and going in different directions as a fill for an area.
This stitch is sometimes used as the spokes for the spider web stitch. When doing this, make the detached single chains long and thin.
To give this stitch some variety, work it in two colors. Use one color for the loop and a second for the tacking stitch. Another variation would be to make the tacking stitch longer, creating more of a stem that is similar to fly stitch.
Variations of the detached single chain include the basic chain stitch, reversed chain, feathered chain, cable chain, square chain, heavy chain, zig-zag chain and many more.
Updated by Mollie Johanson
How to Make a Lazy Daisy
A lazy daisy is the term used for a group of single, detached chain stitches worked in the shape of a flower. You can have any number of petals in a single flower, but 5 or 6 petals are most common.
To work a lazy daisy, bring the needle up through the fabric at your starting point, at the center of the flower.
Insert the needle again at the starting point and bring the tip up through the fabric at the opposite end, where the petal will end.
Insert the needle back into the fabric on the opposite side of the thread, at the curved end of the loop, tacking it in place.
Repeat the process to make additional stitches around the center point until the flower has been completed.