Shell stitch is a simple and wonderfully versatile stitch that is a perfect way to add texture and a bit of intricacy to an otherwise solid block of crochet!
It’s the ideal stitch for fabrics when you want them to have a little drape – the pattern creates gaps in your work, so is airy and lighter than normal double crochet.
What is shell stitch?
Shell stitch is created by placing multiples of one stitch in the same space. It skips over stitches, creating a slightly open-work design.
It’s called shell stitch because these multiple stitches fan out, creating a shell-like shape. It can also be called fan stitch!
What can I use this stitch for?
Shell stitch makes an excellent border for a flat work project like a blanket, scarf, or pillow. The scallop-shaped shells are reminiscent of lace and are a great way to finish the rough edges of larger projects.
The common shell stitch is also a visually intricate stitch, but works up with only two repeating rows – it’s perfect for larger projects where you don’t want to use just double crochet for the main stitch.
Some great project ideas for shell stitch would be lighter, summery shrugs, a blanket or striped shell stitch scarf, or as a border on another project.
Let’s get started!
The step-by-step photo tutorial in this post will walk you through the basics of how to create a 5 double crochet shell stitch.
Before we start, you’ll want to know some crochet basics already, like how to:
- create a chain
- single crochet
- double crochet
I also highly recommend being comfortable with the concept of turning your work – but this pattern is a good chance to practice that skill!
For this tutorial, here’s what I’ll be using:
- A 5mm crochet hook
- Worsted weight yarn – if this is your first go at shell stitch, I would suggest a light-colored type of yarn! It makes it easier to see your stitches. I’m using a minty green in this tutorial!
- Tapestry needle
|* *||repeat all instructions between asterisks|
For the first part of the pattern, I’ll walk you through using minimal abbreviations.
After we get the hang of making both pattern rows, we’ll move on to the way you’d more commonly see this stitch spelled out (using abbreviations and rows).
If you feel fairly confident in your ability to follow a standard crochet pattern, feel free to skip ahead to the pattern summary.
This tutorial is written using American terminology for all stitches.
I’m going to be referring to “half” shells and “full” shells. Both are created by placing multiple double crochet stitches in the same stitch. Half shells are only three (3) stitches; full shells are five (5) stitches.
Getting started – Chain Row
To begin, chain a multiple of 6 stitches + 2 additional stitches.
For my test swatch, I chained 18 + 2 additional stitches.
A quick note on the additional stitches – these are used to “build” height on your first stitch.
In the second chain from your hook (remember, never count the loop on your hook as a stitch!), make a single crochet stitch.
Then, skip the next two chain stitches.
In the third chain, we’ll make our first full shell stitch by placing five (5) double crochet stitches into the same stitch, like so:
Here’s the completed first row!
Second Row – “Half” Shell Row
For the next row, we’ll need to chain three (3) stitches to turn.
This chain counts as the first stitch of the next row.
In the same stitch as the chain three (3), place another two (2) double crochet stitches.
This forms our first “half” shell of this row.
(Why a “half” shell? In order to keep a clean, straight edge on our work, every other row needs to start with a half shell. If we created a full shell here, it would add extra stitches to each row, effectively acting as an increase.)
Now, skip the next two (2) double crochet stitches from the last row, and in the third place a single crochet.
This should be in the center double crochet of the last row’s shell stitch, like so:
Then, skip the next two (2) stitches. In the third stitch, make a full shell stitch by placing five (5) double crochet stitches in the same stitch.
We’ll repeat that same process until the end of the row – in the last stitch, we’ll need to make another “half” shell by placing three (3) double crochet in the same stitch.
Here’s the finished “half” shell row.
Third Row – Single Crochet Start Row
Now for the last row of the pattern before we start repeating!
To start the next row, chain one (1) stitch.
In the stitch directly next to your hook (the one the turning chain is coming out of), place a single crochet.
First single crochet made!
I find this stitch is a little confusing to place – crochet patterns usually assume that you will skip the first stitch in the row, as the chain that you create to turn counts as the first stitch.
That’s not the case in this pattern!
From here, skip two (2) stitches, then place a full shell stitch in the next stitch.
We’ll repeat the same pattern (skip two stitches, single crochet, skip two stitches, full shell) until the end of the row, where we’ll end with a single crochet, like so:
From here, we can just keep repeating the half shell row and the single crochet row!
Repeat until your project reaches the desired size.
With a 5mm hook size and worsted weight yarn, chain a multiple of 6sts + 2
R1: Sc in 2nd st from hook, skip 2 ch sts, *5dc in next ch, skip 2 ch sts, sc in next ch, skip 2 ch sts* end with sc in last st
R2: Ch 3, in same st as ch 2dc, skip 2 sts, *sc in next st, skip 2 sts, 5dc in next st, skip 2 sts* end with 3dc in last st
R3: Ch 1, in same st as ch 1 sc, skip 2 sts, *5dc in next st, skip 2 sts, sc in next st, skip 2 sts* end with sc in last st
Repeat R2 and R3 until the desired length is reached.
And that’s complete, so happy crocheting!
I hope that this stitch tutorial was helpful, that it has answered any questions you might have had, and that you are now able to create beautiful crocheted items with the shell stitch!