Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

As promised, here is a new portion of chain stitch based stitches!


These ones are my personal favorites. They create a look of intricate braids, which I always dreamt of being able to do, but alas! I can make only the simplest braid with my hair, but at least hand embroidery gives me the opportunity to make pretty braids out of thread on fabric, haha.

Heavy chain stitch and braided chain stitch are worked almost the same way, there is only one little difference. So I thought it would be more convenient to group them together and learn them both at once. Let's make the lessons more effective, right?

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

Both of the stitches are basically a variation of reversed chain stitch, so if you're not familiar with it, check this post:


Heavy chain stitch


Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

We start heavy chain stitch with a short straight stitch and then bring the needle up to the front of the fabric at a stitch length away. Then we slide the needle under the straight stitch we made before and insert it into the fabric at the same point where it last emerged.

This way we made the first chain link, and, as of now, it's not different from how you would usually work reversed chain stitch.

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

Next time we bring the needle up through the fabric a stitch length away again. And slide the needle under the straight stitch again.

Did you notice the difference with the simple reversed chain stitch? Normally, you would slide the needle under the previous chain link, but here we take two steps back.

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

When you are ready to make the third chain link, you take two steps back again and slide the needle under the 1st chain loop.

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

Please note, that you don't need to pick any fabric when you slide the needle under the thread.

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

Also, keep in mind, that in the pictures you can often see the needle sliding under the thread with its sharp point going forward, but it is done solely for the purpose of showing the direction more clearly. As a matter of fact, it is better to do that with the eyed-end to avoid picking thread.

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

So this is the heavy chain stitch and my poor attempt to demonstrate that it can also tackle mild curves. The line is thick, sturdy and dimensional. I worked it with 2 strands of floss and rather tiny stitches, but if you work it having a thicker thread and bigger stitches, it will be even more voluminous and have more distinct chain loops.

Braided chain stitch


Braided chain stitch looks quite different from the heavy one, doesn't it? But you are up for a surprise because they are worked pretty much identically!

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

So we start the same way. Make a straight stitch first, then come up to the front of the fabric with your needle and make a loop sliding the needle under the straight stitch, and insert it back at the base of the loop. Next time you bring the needle up through the fabric, slide it under the straight stitch again. Insert the needle back where it emerged at the bottom of the loop.

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

Now, when you are about to make the third chain link, slide the needle under the first chain link again. So, like with the heavy chain stitch, here we also take two steps back. BUT this time, lift the loop up in such a way that the second one stays under the needle.

This is the whole difference, which gives birth to a totally new look of the stitch!

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

Sometimes sliding the needle under the loop while keeping the other under the needle might be tough, especially if the stitches are not that big (like in my case). What you can do in this situation is loosening the previous loop for an easier access to the needed chain stitch.

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

When you successfully slide the needle under the loop, pull the free end of the needle so that the previous loop is tight enough again. Keep the tension of all the loops in check as you go.

Heavy chain stitch & braided chain stitch tutorial

So, here is the final view of both stitches.

In terms of looks, I like the braided chain stitch more, because the weaving is more intricate. However, working the heavy chain stitch is much easier and quicker. But essentially, both of the stitches deserve to be in your stitch vocabulary!


Most often they are used for working lines and borders, naturally. But who knows, maybe you can find another purpose for them? :)