Oh, the Fly Stitch! It can be birds in the air, a long curly vine, a lovely leaf or a decorative fill stitch – and it’s easy! The Fly Stitch is a hand embroidery stitch that is sometimes called the Tied Stitch or Y Stitch and can be worked singularly, in rows, or scattered as a filling. It is a useful and versatile stitch used for borders, filling, powdering and representing plant forms. Combine the stitch with other stitches, like a French Knot, or add beads – you’ll find this is one of the most versatile hand embroidery stitches.
The illustration shows detached Fly Stitches, which can be made in an orderly fashion or a random pattern. These “flies” have a short “body” stitch. You’ll see in the following examples how you can vary the length of the stitch or connect stitches to fill a space.
Red Brolly has a great tutorial that’s easy to follow. She features step-by-step photographs and shows you how to achieve different effects with the same stitch.
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Try these undulating lines of lilac stitches by Thrifty Finn. You can almost feel the breeze! Then imagine the Fly Stitch as seaweed in an underwater seascape – or plants in a cute embroidery of a goldfish bowl.
And how cute are these strawberry seeds? Kimberly Ouimet shows you how to make these tiny detached stitches.
Wendi of Shiny Happy World demonstrates each step of the Fly Stitch – this one with a longer “body”.
The Fly Stitch is also used quite a bit on crazy quilting projects, bring attention to seam lines on a garment, as well as use this stitch to depict branches and stems on an embroidery project, or art quilt.
The fly stitch works right to left. Bring your thread up on your line to stitch and make a back stitch to start.
Then, take a stitch to the left as wide as you want the fly stitch.
Then, take a stitch to the right, and bring it back to the base of the stitch.
Then, continue taking a stitch, and one to the left, one to the right along your line. It goes really quickly – I got on a roll and never stopped to take another picture while in progress! It is a meditative stitch to sew, once you get going on it . . . Here is the final Fly Stitch embroidery sample!
Below is a sampler that shows how the fly stitch can look with different threads and weights.
- Row 1: Pearl cotton size 12
- Row 2: Pearl cotton size 8
- Row 3: Pearl cotton size 5
- Row 4: Pearl cotton variegated size 3
- Row 5: Pearl cotton variegated size 8
- Row 6: 6 strand embroidery floss
Another small sampler that shows the fly stitch and a detached fly stitch.
Check out all of the embroidery projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy!