The chain stitch is one of the most widely-used embroidery stitches in folk needle crafts, especially Jewish folk needle crafts. It’s also one of the most versatile. Most of the time the chain stitch is used to make a continuous line of linked loops, like the outlines of the fish and the letters in the folk hamsa shown above. But sometimes it’s useful to make one isolated chain stitch on its own, as was done to create the little fishes’ eyes in the image above.
If you’d like to make an isolated stitch without knotting your thread at the back of the fabric, you’ll need to make a few extra little stitches so that you can anchor the ends of the thread in those little stitches.
Here’s how to create those few extra stitches for anchoring the ends of the embroidery floss when stitching an isolated chain stitch:
How to Embroider an Isolated Chain Stitch
Start by making three very small stitches, close to each other but not touching, in the shape of a triangle. As you make the stitches, maneuver the loose end of the floss at the back of the fabric so that it’s caught up in the stitching.
Make the chain stitch on top of the triangle. You’ll find general instructions for making the chain stitch here.
When you’re done making the stitch, weave the needle and floss through the stitches at the back of the fabric to anchor it.
This technique also works for anchoring the thread for isolated French knots.
(By the way, you can find the Folk Hamsa embroidery kit in the shop.)
Maria Bywater is the author of Sew Jewish: The 18 Projects You Need for Jewish Holidays, Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebrations, and Home. She teaches hands-on Judaica sewing workshops.