How to Crochet the Shell Stitch

Its classic pattern adds a decorative border for hats, sweaters, and blankets.

skinny snowflake pattern 4 step d
Photo: Anne Weil

Shell stitch is sometimes abbreviated in patterns as sh. This stitch works for lots of projects, including hats, sweaters, and blankets. One of the most common ways you might see shell stitch is as a border. Adding this stitch to the edge of a simple blanket can transform it into something special. You can even add crocheted shells around quilts or napkins. To work crochet edging on fabric, start by stitching blanket stitch around the edges, then use those stitches to anchor the shells.

This stitch is technically a collection of stitches that make a single shell. Each stitch looks like a fan or a shell, which is where the name comes from. There are lots of variations of shell stitch, with some using more or fewer double crochets and others using triple crochets. The placement of the shells makes it possible to create varying looks with this stitch. It's common to see these stitches staggered and nested like the instructions here, which makes a solid crocheted material. You can also stack them with double crochets between each shell, which makes your crochet more open.

How to Work Shell Stitch

To make one shell stitch, work five double crochet stitches into a single stitch. When using this stitch, you need to anchor the ends and have the correct number of chains or stitches to work on. Start with a chain that is a multiple of six stitches plus one, then follow these steps for making rows of shell stitch.

On the first row, chain one and work one single crochet into the second chain from the hook. Skip two stitches, then work a shell stitch into the next stitch. Skip two stitches, then work one single crochet into the next stitch. Repeat this across the row, crocheting shells and single crochets, and ending with a single crochet stitch.

On the second row, chain three (this counts as one double crochet) and work two double crochets into the first stitch (this makes a half shell). Skip two stitches, then work one single crochet into the next stitch, which is the top of the shell from the previous row. Skip two stitches, then work a shell stitch into the next stitch, which is between two shells from the previous row. Repeat this across the row. Work one single crochet at the top of the last shell, then work three double crochets in the last stitch.

Repeat the first row, this time working the single crochet stitches into the top of the shells from the previous row and the shell stitches into the single crochet stitches from the previous row. Alternate between the two rows for a solid design or try another variation.

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