Are you wondering how to crochet the shell stitch?
Shell stitch is a popular stitch often used to add a decorative edge to afghan or blanket projects, there are so many types of shell stitch it really is so easy to build a pretty fabric which can be tight enough for washcloths or loose and lacey for summer sweaters it’s definitely one to learn early on in your crochet journey.
In today’s tutorial I’m going to talk you through instructions for the most commonly used double crochet shell stitch then show you some variations so you can learn to to add beauty to any of your projects.
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What Do I Need To Crochet Shell Stitch?
This stitch can look so different depending on the size of yarn you choose, whether you use a small hook for a dense fabric or a large hook to create a loose lacey effect, or even how many stitches you incorporate into your shell.
Once you get the hang of the pattern repeat you will be able to play around with different tools, yarns and variations to add all sorts of finishes to your projects, go you!! :o)
For beginners I generally recommend a chunky yarn which allows you to see the structure of your stitch (which also makes it easier to work out where to go back to if something has gone wrong!)
A bamboo or wooden hook like this one from my shop is useful as it is adds just a touch more friction so the yarn ‘sticks’ better and allows you to work at your own pace without it slipping off and unravelling.
As with most craft projects you’ll also need some small scissors and a needle for weaving in your ends (sorry we ALL hate it but it’s gotta be done!)
How Do You Crochet A Shell Stitch?
Shells are one of the most frequently used decorative crochet stitches and do you know why?
Because the variations are endless and they’re SO EASY.
The most common and basic shell stitches are created by working several double crochet stitches into one stitch space to create a fan shape, this is then anchored with a single crochet and the pattern is repeated – told you it was easy!
For the basic 5 DC Shell stitch we are going to work in groups of 6 stitches.
To start, create a chain of 30+1.
Row 1: We are now going to create a foundation row so our project has a straight edge, Chain 1, turn and single crochet along your chain.
Row 2: Chain 1, turn your work and single crochet into the first stitch.
Skip 2 stitches
Yarn over and work 5 double crochet all into the next stitch (the 4th in your block of six)
Skip 2 stitches again then work a single crochet into the next stitch (this is the start of your second block of six stitches and your second shell)
Repeat your 6 stitch block of *SC, SK2,5DC,SK2* until you reach the end of the row.
Row 3 is worked in a very similar way but we want the base of our shell to sit in the space between the domes of the shells below. This sounds complicated but actually all we need to do is to create half a shell at each end of our row.
Start by chaining 3 (this will count as your first DC), work 2 more DC into the same stitch to create your half shell, skip 2 stitches then anchor your half shell with a SC (this should line up with the top of the shell below).
Skip 2 stitches then 5DC into the SC below. Skip 2 stitches again then SC to anchor your first full shell.
Now you can carry on with your 6 stitch block from the previous row (*SC, SK2,5DC,SK2*) until you get to the last few stitches.
Here we need to create a half shell again to ensure our edges are straight and we don’t add additional stitches! To do this we simply work 3DC into the last stitch.
Now we can repeat row 2 and 3 to create a really pretty fabric!
Crochet Shell Stitch Variations
Now you’ve mastered the basic 5DC shell stitch why not give one of these variations a go?
We talked earlier about adding extra dimension to your projects by varying the size of yarn or changing the tension with a different sized hook.
Here are some other ideas you could try:
3 Double Crochet Shell Stitch
Start by chaining in groups of 4, create your foundation row of SC then work * SC, SK1, 3DC, SK1, * Repeat. (Don’t forget to add a half shell at the start and end of each odd numbered row)
7 Double Crochet Shell Stitch
Alternatively you could increase the size of your shells to 7DC, which would add more of a 3d effect.
Varied Height Crochet Shell Stitch
You can also work different height stitches into your shells to create more drama ( you know I love a dramatic pattern!)
If you’re feeling adventurous try working a SC, 1HDC, 1DC, 1HDC, 1SC into your basic 6 stitch block that we practised earlier. This is a great way to add more space and create a fabric with more drape.
How To Add Crochet Shell Stitch Border to Edging
If you have a project that needs a little embellishment then shell stitch is definitely your friend.
It is easy to work the patterns above into the edge of your project by picking up stitches and working row 2&3 to create a scalloped edge.
Alternatively, if you prefer more of a wave to the edge you could try something similar to the Varied Height shell stitch above. Try working 1SC, 1HDC, 1DC,1 HDC, 1SC into consecutive stitches along the edge of your blanket or cardigan which will give you a more structured finish.
As you can see, once you’ve mastered the idea (and the math!!) the possibilities are endless.
I’d love to know which variations you try and if you come up with any new ones for me to try too – make sure you tag me on social media @kingandeye.co.uk so I can see what you’re creating