How to Stitch the Detached Single Chain

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. It's also a bit of a building block stitch and, therefore, 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. 

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Embroidery needle

Materials

  • Fabric
  • Thread

Instructions

Standard Detached Chain

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.

Working the Single Chain Stitch
Mollie Johanson / The Spruce
  1. Insert the Needle

    To work the detached chain stitch, bring the needle up through the fabric at your starting point (point one).

  2. Create a Small Loop

    Insert the needle again at the starting point (point two) 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 three), catching the loop of the thread as you pull it through.

    Tip

    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 two, bring the tip up through the fabric a short distance away (point three), catching the loop of thread.

  3. Tack Loop in Place

    Insert the needle back into the fabric on the opposite side of the loop of thread (point four), tacking it in place. Repeat the process to make additional stitches.

    Tip

    As you work this stitch, watch out for a twisting thread. If the thread twists, the stitch will become oddly shaped. This is especially true when working with stranded cotton embroidery floss, so be sure to let your thread and needle untwist regularly.

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. This method is helpful at times, but won't work for making lazy daisies.

  1. Bring the Needle Up

    Bring the needle up through the fabric at what will be the curved end of the stitch (point three). Take the needle back down (point four), forming the tacking stitch. 

  2. Slide Needle Under Tacking Stitch

    Come back up a short distance from the tacking stitch (point one) and then slide the needle under the tacking stitch. Insert the needle at the pointed end of the stitch (point two).

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 five or six petals are most common.

Lazy Daisy Example
Mollie Johanson / The Spruce
  1. Insert the Needle

    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.

  2. Turn to Back

    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.

  3. Repeat

    Repeat the process to make additional stitches around the center point until the flower has been completed.