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How to hand embroider simple butterflies using detached chain and straight stitches

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

In this post, I'll show you how to create simple butterflies in hand embroidery using detached chain stitch and straight stitch. You could create an entire hoop filled with these butterflies, or even use them as simple embellishments!

I created an entire hoop filled with butterflies using this simple technique!

Today's post is fairly simple, just like the technique itself. You'll find instructions in written, photo, and video format (feel free to jump ahead, should video be easier for you to follow!).

You'll find more detailed tutorials for detached chain and straight stitches elsewhere on the blog, should those be useful to you! You may also find my tutorial for how to separate strands of embroidery floss to be useful if you're following along with me today, as I'll be using three strands of cotton embroidery floss for my butterfly's wings and just one strand for the body.

Preparing your design

If you prefer to work from a guide, start by drawing V-shapes on your fabric wherever you'd like your butterflies to appear on the hoop. In the photo below, I've drawn three V-shapes, and stitched just one of my butterflies to use as a reference.

When drawing your design, consider using an erasable transfer method (such as a blue or white water-erasable transfer pen). If you use something more permanent, such as a pencil, you risk having visible transfer marks once you've finished stitching. Visible transfer marks are totally fine if they're in line with your aesthetic preferences, but if they're not - go for an erasable method!

Step 1: Use detached chain stitch to create the butterfly's bottom wing.

I like to start with the bottom wing because it's possible that my two detached chain stitches might overlap, and I think it looks a bit more natural for the top wing to overlap the bottom. When pulling and securing this first stitch, do you best to pull somewhat loosely; this will help to create a fuller, more wing-like shape.

Step 2: Use detached chain stitch to create the butterfly's top wing.

To create your top wing, bring your needle back up through your fabric as close to that original stitch as possible. Again, be careful to pull fairly loosely here, so you're able to create a fuller and more wing-like shape.