Easy Fly Stitch Tutorial

fly stitch leaf and fishbone stitch leaf

The Easy Little Fly Stitch

Table of Contents

The fly stitch is a cute little ‘V’ shaped stitch, almost similar to the fishbone stitch, but it’s a bit more adorable, in my opinion. It also uses less thread. It’s simply a little open loop that’s been stitched down at the bottom.

You can make little flying birds, arrows, design elements, leaves, feathers, and so on. Let your imagination run! I'm going to show you the basic fly stitch, then give you some examples of how you can change them up a bit. I’ll also create a leaf with this stitch and compare it to a leaf made with the fishbone stitch so you can see the difference.

Step-By-Step Fly Stitch

  • Simply start by creating a loose seed stitch going from A to B.
  • Imagine the letter ‘V’ and where the bottom of that ‘V’ would be, and come up halfway (C), above your thread.
  • Pull the thread gently on the back so it hugs the needle on the front to form a nice ‘V’. This step is optional but it helps reduce wear and tear on the thread.
  • Then pull your needle through.
  • To tie the 'V' down with a small stitch return to the back of the fabric on the other side of the thread, at or near C.

tiny stitch being added to the bottom of a loose stitch to create a 'v' shape.

Grouping & Stacking the Fly Stitch

Let's play with our stitch a bit. It can certainly be used as a stand alone stitch (maybe you want to make a little cat nose), and it can also be used grouped to create different effects.

A few random stitches can make a lovely open fill or it could become 3 flying birds.

3 green single fly stitches

They can also be stacked with or without any space in between each other. The stitch that holds the bottom of the fly stitch down can also vary from short to long to form a ‘Y’.

stacked fly stitches with varying spaces in between, and various tail lengths

Fly Stitch Leaf

Draw a leaf template and create a stitch (A to B) along the top center. This isn’t a part of the fly stitch but it’s needed to add a little point to the leaf.

faint leaf template with a green stitch at the top center.

Directly up against it, add a fly stitch:

  • Come up at C along the edge of the leaf, then down at D at the other edge of the leaf, leaving the thread a bit loose.
  • Bring your needle to the top of your fabric at B and bring it over your loose thread.
  • Then pull your needle all the way up through.
  • Tie the stitch down by returning to the back just below B.

fly stitch added around straight stitch at top of leaf

Continue to build more fly stitches, one below each other until your leaf is finished.

finished leaf made with stacked fly stitches

Fly Stitch vs Fishbone Stitch

On the left is the fly stitch leaf and on the right is the fishbone stitch leaf. The way they meet along the spine is where they differ. The fly stitch leaf has a defined ‘spine'-like’ appearance while the fishbone criss-crosses. Other than that, they’re quite similar to each other.

fly stitch leaf and fishbone stitch leaf

These two leaves are considered closed fills since they cover the fabric below. If you want to learn how to make open fill leaves I have a blog post for that using both the fly stitch and fishbone stitch, so take a peek!

Fly Stitch Video Tutorial

Now that we've gone over the fly stitch, I hope you'll incorporate it into your stitchery magic! And as always, here's a video tutorial below.

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