Crochet Shell Stitch for Beginners

How to crochet a Shell Stitch. This step by step tutorial shows you the basic shell crochet stitch and its variations.

So, you have learned how to make the basic crochet stitches like half doubles, singles and triples and you are now ready to move onto something a little more advanced? Well, the shell stitch is the perfect next one to tackle.

Not only is it beautiful, but this stitch is looks intricate and complicated while being actually very easy to master, even for a beginning crocheter.

image of rows of crochet shell stitches in light blue yarn

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Learn how to crochet a Puff Stitch in this step by step tutorial.

What is a Shell Stitch in crochet?

It is an intermediate crochet technique that creates a very delicate looking pattern of shells or fans. This shell pattern makes it perfect for sweet baby blankets, scarves or even triangle shawls.

And particular stitch lends itself especially well to borders and edgings and can give a simple crocheted afghan a pretty, scalloped edge.

Note: The abbreviation for the Shell Stitch is sh or SH

Useful supplies

Lion Brand Yarn Landscapes set of crochet hooks Book A to Z of Crochet

Don’t miss the Clearance Yarn at Knit Picks

How to work a basic shell

This tutorial will show you two different variations of the shell pattern. The first one is a basic 5 double crochet (dc) shell with offset rows.

image of crochet shell stitches

With the second variation, each shell consists of 3 double crochets (dc) and the rows are stacked, meaning the shells are on top of each other.

image of two stacked rows of crochet shell stitches

To begin, you will need some foundation stitches. This can be any type of crochet swatch you already have. I began with some simple chain stitches (ch) and then I worked a row of single crochets (sc) into the chains.

image of single crochet stitches

The 5 Double Crochet Stitch Shell

To make a row of 5 DC shells come out even, your chain stitches will need to be in multiples of 6 + 1 (for the turning chain). You will have 2 skipped stitches and 1 single crochet (sc) between each of the shells on all the rows.

The second, fourth, sixth etc. rows will begin and end with a half shell stitch and then follow the skip 2, sc 1 pattern in between.

Note: My sample piece was started with 19 chains. After deducting the 1 turning chain, the working rows now have 18 stitches.

The first row of shells:

Skip (sk) 2 stitches and make a double crochet (dc) in the next stitch. Then work 4 more doubles in the same stitch for a total of 5 dcs in the third stitch from below.

(If you need a refresher, see this tutorial for how to make double stitches)

image of a crochet double stitch
(1st DC Stitch)
image of making a crochet shell stitch
(2nd DC Stitch)
image of the 3rd double stitch in a crochet shell
(3rd DC Stitch)
image of 4 double crochets to make a shell
(4th DC Stitch)
image of a crochet shell
(5th DC Stitch)

Next, you will again skip 2 stitches (sk), then make a single crochet (sc) in the next stitch and skip 2 more stitches. (sk 2, sc, sk 2)

image of crocheting a shell
image of three crochet shell stitches

Repeat the above steps until you get to the end of the row. Since I started with 18 stitches, the directions would be written as follows:

Sk 2, 5 dc in next stitch, sk 2, sc, sk 2, 5 dc in next stitch, sk 2, sc, sk 2, 5 dc in next stitch, sk 2, sc in last stitch. Turn.

image of three shell stitches in crochet

The second row of shells:

If you want to have the shells alternating with each the row, you will now start the next row with a half shell.

Start by chaining 3 which will count as a dc. Then work 2 doubles (dc) in the same stitch. (This makes up the first half shell).

image of crochet shell stitches
image of crocheting a half shell

Now you will follow the same formula of sk 2, sc, sk 2 and then you will make 5 dcs in between the shells from the row below. Repeat sk 2, sc, sk 2, 5 dcs. At the end of the row, you will make another 2 dc half shell and turn.

image of crochet work
image of crocheted shell stitches
image of crochet work in turquoise yarn

This entire row would be written as: Ch 3, 2 dc in same stitch, sk 2, sc, sk 2, 5 dc in next stitch, sk 2, sc, sk 2, 5 dc in next stitch, sk 2, sc, 2 dc in last stitch. Turn.

Continue repeating the above rows, alternating your shells so they ‘nest’ instead of stacking on top of each other.

Next, I will show you how to make your rows of shells stack on top of each other, as opposed to alternating positions.

The 3 Double Crochet Stacked Shell Stitch

In this variation, I will make each shell stitch (sh) using 3 double stitches (dc) instead of 5. In order to make them stack on top of each other, I won’t be using half shells at the ends of the second row.

Instead, each row will be worked exactly the same way.

The first row of shells:

Again, you will start with a row of chains (ch) and then a row of single crochet stitches (sc). I also started this one with 19 chains (multiple of 3 + 1).

Skip 2 stitches, then work 3 doubles in the next stitch. Repeat from the beginning, skipping 2 and working 3 dcs. At the end of the row, I skipped 2 and made 1 double stitch.

Sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, dc, turn.

image of 3 dc stitches
image of 2 shell stitches
image of a row of crochet

The second row of shells:

To begin the second row, chain 2 (counts as 1 dc). Then skip 2 and work 3 dc in the next stitch. Continue skipping 2 and working 3 in the following stitch. At the end, you will again skip 2 and work a double in the last stitch.

Sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, 3 dc in next, sk 2, dc, turn.

image of crochet in turquoise yarn

These are just two examples of how you can make shells. There are many more ways to make them such as using different stitches or changing the number in each shell.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. Check our stitch library for more crochet instructions.

Enjoy! Annette

Types of Crochet Shell Stitches

There are many different ways that you can make a shell stitch. One basic technique (as you see in the first tutorial above) is made with three to five double crochet or dc stitches. Those are worked in alternating rows.

In another variation, the shells are stacked on top of each other as opposed to being offset. (as in the second tutorial above)

You are also not locked into working the shell with double stitches (dc) only. The stitch height can be varied by using half double crochets (hdc) or triple stitches (tr).

Finally, one more variation of shell stitches is by changing the number of stitches per shell. For instance, you can use 4 stitches per shell or even 7 or 8 stitches if your yarn is fine enough.

What is a shell stitch used for?

The Shell is very decorative crochet stitch that is often used for borders and edges. The pretty, scalloped design of the shell looks great when used with a single color of yarn which shows off the textures.

You can also alter the yarn of each row, giving your piece multiple colors as well as overall texture. By using different shades of the same color, you could make a lovely ombre pattern as well.

Love! The Garden Mums Blanket Crochet Kit

Complete kit includes: Yarn (your choice of color combos), Printed Pattern, 4.0mm Hook

image of two crochet afghans
two marketing images of crochet shell stitches
marketing image of crochet work

Crochet Shell Stitch for Beginners

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