How to Crochet a Shell Stitch

Illustrated Tutorial

With this tutorial, you will learn how to crochet the basic shell stitch worked in rows; each row can be a different color if you like, or you could work in a solid color if you prefer.

There are many different ways you could crochet shell stitches and many different shell stitch variations. There are also many different ways to incorporate shell stitches into your projects. When you've finished with this tutorial, please be sure to check out our other pages about shell stitches too!

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    Shell Stitch: Multicolored Sample Worked in Four Different Colors

    Shell Stitch
    Shell Stitch. Shell Stitch -- Photo © Michael Solovay

    Here we have a picture of how my finished shell stitch sample looks. You can click the photo, or any of the photos in this tutorial, to enlarge it.

    You've probably noticed that my sample is multicolored. If you'd rather work yours all in one color, no problem; just skip the color changes mentioned in the instructions below. If that's the version you are interested in crocheting, you can click here to see a picture of how the solid shell stitch looks.

    I crocheted my shell stitch sample...MORE using Caron's Simply Soft acrylic yarn. I've chosen to use four different colors in my sample swatch:

    • Color A: Sage (the green color)
    • Color B: Bone (the tan color)
    • Color C: Blue Mint (the bright blue / turquoise color)
    • Color D: Off White (the eggshell / cream color)

    The colors are listed in the order I use them in the project, in ascending order -- working from the bottom of the fabric up to the top, and then repeating over and over again until the crocheted piece is the desired length.

    You can use any number of colors you like, so please feel free to experiment with your own color choices.

  • 02 of 26

    Row 1 Instructions:

    Starting Chain for Crocheting Shell Stitch.
    Starting Chain for Crocheting Shell Stitch. Starting Chain for Crocheting Shell Stitch. Photo © Michael Solovay

    Using color A, work your starting chain. The starting chain will consist of a series of chain stitches in a multiple of ___.

  • 03 of 26

     

    Single Crochet Into Second Chain From Hook
    Single Crochet Into Second Chain From Hook. Single Crochet Into Second Chain From Hook -- Photo © Michael Solovay

    Work a single crochet stitch into the second chain stitch from your hook.

  • 04 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Skip the next two chain stitches. Then work a double crochet stitch into the next chain stitch after that.

    Continue to 5 of 26 below.
  • 05 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Here's how the work looks at this point.

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    Work four more double crochet stitches into the same chain stitch, for a total of five double crochets.

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    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Skip the next two chain stitches, leaving them unworked. Then work a single crochet stitch into the next chain stitch after the unworked chains.

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    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Skip the next two chains...

    Continue to 9 of 26 below.
  • 09 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    ...and work five double crochet stitches into the next chain stitch.

  • 10 of 26

    Repeat Until You Reach the End of the Row.

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    At the end of the row, you'll want to end with a single crochet stitch.

  • 11 of 26

    For Shell Stitch Trim

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    If you just want to make a shell stitch trim, that can be sewn to other projects, you would complete the last single crochet stitch as usual, end off, and weave in your ends.

    If you want to continue working in the same color, without doing any color changes, you would complete the single crochet stitch as usual, but do not end off. Skip the color change instructions and then pick up when you get to the turning chain instructions.

  • 12 of 26

    For Shell Stitch Worked in Multicolored Rows

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    If you're working rows of shell stitch using more than one color, you'll want to work the last single crochet stitch without completing the last step of the stitch.

    Continue to 13 of 26 below.
  • 13 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Attach your new yarn color. I'm using color B now; feel free to use any color you like.

    For more info about color changes, you may wish to view this tutorial for how to change colors.

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    Row 2 Instructions:

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Work a turning chain of three chain stitches. This will count as your first ​double crochet stitch in the row.

  • 15 of 26

    Weaving in Ends as You Go

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    For those of you working in more than one color, it's time to mention how important it is to weave your ends in as you go -- at least, it is if you're making an actual project, rather than just a swatch. Otherwise, it'll be an overwhelming task you have to complete before the project is usable.

    I encourage you to cut your old color and weave in the end at this point, along with the end generated at the beginning of the work.

    If you don't already know how to do this, and you want to...MORE weave in your ends in the usual way, this page has information that will help.

    In the photos here on this page, you can see me experimenting with a slightly different idea. I decided to try weaving my ends through the next few stitches, then crocheting overtop of them to secure them better. Then in the next row, I'll repeat the same steps going in a different direction to secure them again.

    After that, the ends can be woven in a few more times and then cut.

  • 16 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Continue working row 2: Work 2 more dc stitches into the first stitch. If you count your turning chain as a double crochet stitch, this gives you a total of 3 stitches at the beginning of the row.

    Continue to 17 of 26 below.
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    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Skip the next 2 double crochet stitches, and work a single crochet stitch into the next double crochet. The stitch to work into is the center stitch in the grouping of shell stitches in the row below.

  • 18 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Skip the next 2 double crochet stitches. After that, you'll work a group of five double crochets (another shell) into the next single crochet stitch. (Pictured at left.)

    Repeat these steps over and over again across the row -- single crochet in the middle of the next shell, then work a shell into the next single crochet stitch.

  • 19 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    When you reach the end of the row, you want to end by working 3 double crochet stitches into the last single crochet. You can skip the turning chain. The photo at left shows how the end of my row looks.

    Work 1 chain stitch for the turning chain.

  • 20 of 26

    Row 3 Instructions

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Begin row 3: Work a single crochet stitch into the first stitch.

    Continue to 21 of 26 below.
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    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Skip the next 2 double crochet stitches; work a group of 5 double crochet stitches into the next single crochet stitch.

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    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Skip the next 2 double crochet stitches. Work a single crochet stitch into the middle of the next shell.

  • 23 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Repeat this sequence across the row, alternating shells and single crochet stitches all the way across.

    At the end of the row, you'll want to work your last single crochet stitch into the turning chain. Remember to change colors before you finish the last step of the last stitch in the row.

  • 24 of 26

     

    Photo © Michael Solovay

    Repeat rows 2 and 3 for your pattern repeat. If you're also working in a color pattern, remember to keep your color pattern consistent as well.

    Continue to 25 of 26 below.
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    Here's a photo showing 5 rows of the pattern repeat, worked in the color sequence I chose. You can make your piece as long as you want it to be.

  • 26 of 26

    References


    Crochet Edgings, Insertions Medallions
    With Illustrations and Instructions by Harry B. Smythe
    Publication date: 1917
    Publisher: Duncan Publishing Company
    St. Louis

    Encyclopedia of Needlework
    Therese De Dillmont​

    Royal Society Crochet Lessons Book No. 9
    Copyright 1917
    By H.E. Verran Company,
    New York​

    Peterson's Magazine, Volumes 35-36
    Publication date: 1855​

    Richardson's Complete Crochet Book,
    Book No 2
    Publication date: 1916
    Published by Richardson's Silk Company​

    The Harmony Guide to Crochet...MORE Stitches
    Sylvia Cosh and James Walters
    Publication Date: 1986
    Lyric Books Limited
    ISBN# 0 7111 0028 4

    Copyright Notice:

     

    The photos and text in this article are copyrighted. Please do not post them on other websites or distribute them without written permission. While this is a vintage stitch that we cannot and do not claim ownership of, we do have the legal right to claim ownership of the specific photographs and instructions we have created and posted here on these pages.

    The sunset is in the public domain, to be enjoyed by all. However, any pictures that a photographer takes of the sunset can be copyrighted by that photographer. So it is with the shell stitch. This stitch is freely available to be enjoyed by everyone, but we have copyrighted the specific photographs we took of it, and the instructions I have posted for you in my own words.

    I hope you will enjoy these free instructions, and make good use of them. I'm hopeful that you'll appreciate not having to buy a crochet manual in order to have the instructions. If you would like to share these materials with others, please feel free to share a link to this page, so that they can make use of the instructions and all the other free resources our website has to offer. You can easily do so using the "share" button at the top right hand side of this page (you will need to scroll up to the top to see it; it's right under the orange button by the search box.) Thank you for your interest!