Easy Fly Stitch Tutorial

three fly stitches

The Easy Little Fly Stitch

It’s all about the fly stitch today because it’s so similar to the fishbone stitch which I went over in my last blog post. I used it to create leaves and I’m going to do the same with the fly stitch so you can compare the two and get a good grasp on how they’re different.

Both the fishbone and the fly stitch can be used for similar things, and I don’t know for sure which of those two I love more, because they’re both pretty simple to make and also cute (the fly stitch is perhaps a wee cuter).

They’re both versatile in use so you might find yourself using them regularly like I do!

So the fly stitch…

It essentially makes the shape of a ‘V’. If you randomly place your fly stitches on your fabric it just might remind you of birds flying into the sunset over a large body of water. That’s really why I find this stitch so stinking adorable!

You can make little flying birds, arrows, design elements, leaves, and feathers. I’m sure you’ll be able to imagine some fun things to do with this lovely stitch once you know how to make it, so let’s get straight into it!

I’m going to show you the basic fly stitch, then give you some examples of how you can change them up a bit.

Lastly, I’ll use this stitch to create a leaf, then compare it to the leaf made with a fishbone stitch so you can see the difference.

The stand alone fly stitch

Simply start by creating one seed stitch going from A to B.

Keep the thread a little loose on top. This will make the next step a bit easier.

small loop on fabric

Now, push your needle up halfway at C, above your thread. If you imagine the letter ‘V’, point C would be the bottom of your ‘V’.

Pull your thread from the back until it hugs your needle at the top of the fabric. Then pull your needle through.

To tie the ‘V’ down with a small stitch return to the back of the fabric below your stitch at or near C.

needle returning to the back at the bottom of loop

Pull your thread through. And that’s it! You should now have a little ‘V’ shape. How cute it that?

one fly stitch

Grouping or stacking the fly stitch

Now, let’s play with our stitch a bit. While it can be used as a stand alone stitch (maybe you want to make a little cat nose), you can use them in groups to create different effects.

Here, I’ve made 3 fly stitches placed randomly. While I’ve made mine all the same size and direction, you can certainly play around with those aspects to get your desired look.

Or, you can keep it simple and orderly. There are no rules here!

three fly stitches

When it comes to stacking your fly stitch there are so many ways you can change it up! You can stack them closely together, for example, like the ones at the very top or spread them out a bit like the ones below it.

You can also vary the size of the tie stitch that holds the stitch down at the bottom. And these stitches can be spread out so they aren’t touch each other, or they can be stacked closer together like the ones at the very bottom of the image. These would be perfect for creating the back end of an arrow, don’t you think?

fly stitches stacked at various distances from each other and with different tail lengths

Making a Leaf

If you think back to the fishbone stitch, we created a leaf in that tutorial. We’re going to create a leaf here with the fly stitch, and when we’re finished you’ll be able to see how they differ visually.

Draw a faint guideline of a leaf with a line down the center for the spine. Then create a stitch along the spine from A to B.

straight stitch at the top of a light leaf sketch
  • Come up at C, then down at D, leaving the thread a bit loose.
  • Bring your needle up halfway, just below point B over your loose thread.
  • Your needle should still be halfway in your fabric. Pull your thread from the back until the loose thread at the top hugs your needle.
  • Then pull your needle all the way up through.
  • Return to the back right below where you just came up.
fly stitch and a straight stitch

Continue to build more fly stitches, one below each other. The top part of your fly stitch will follow along the outline of your leaf.

top of leaf filled in with a couple stitches

Repeat these steps until you’ve completely filled your leaf. And that’s how you create a leaf using the fly stitch.


Before we end our embroidery stitch tutorial, I want to do a quick comparison of each leaf, one created with the fly stitch (on the left) and the other created with the fishbone stitch (on the right).

Can you see the main difference?

The spine of the fly stitch has more texture and is more defined. The leaf created using the fishbone stitch has a much more subtle spine.

fly stitch
fishbone stitch

By the way, you might have noticed that the leaf created with the fly stitch has a little more volume. It’s more to do with the number of threads used than the technique. In this case, I used 6 strands of thread. The fishbone stitch on the right was created with 4. Had I used 4 strands for both the volume would be about the same.

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.


Thanks again for following along! If you haven’t already, grab a free floral embroidery pattern when you sign up for my newsletter!

See you next time!

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Different ways to use the fly stitch and a leaf made of fly stitches

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