How to Use the Foundation Stitches for a Stretchy Crochet Edge

by | Feb 9, 2019

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This technique allows you to work the foundation chain and the first row of crochet at the same time!

If you dislike working into a foundation chain, or if you want the foundation edge to be stretchier, this tutorial is for you.

The foundation crochet stitches can make the equivalent of a foundation chain and the first row of crochet at the same time.  This can be especially helpful when you need the foundation edge to be stretchy, or when you want to work into the opposite side of the foundation edge.  Foundation stitches create a foundation edge that looks like the top of a regular row of stitches, so it is easy to work into the other side of the foundation edge later.  A foundation stitch edge also has the same amount of stretch as the rest of the fabric.  It does not limit the stretch of the edge like a normal foundation chain.

Whether the row of foundation stitches replace just the foundation chain or both the foundation chain and the first row of crochet is up to you, depending on the application. (If you just want to replace the foundation chain, I recommend using the foundation single crochet for that.)

(Here’s where I got the crochet hook I used in this tutorial.)

To use a row of foundation stitches to replace a foundation chain:

When you’re working a flat piece, some patterns will call for a few extra chains in the foundation chain to act as a turning chain.  If this is the case, you’ll need to work the same number of foundation stitches as the number of stitches the first row should end with.  (It’s OK if you use increases and decreases to create a stitch pattern, as long as they are balanced.  This is assuming there are no shaping increases or decreases in the first row of the pattern.  If the first row has shaping increases or decreases, you’ll need to work the number of stitches the first row should end with, then add however many stitches were decreased or subtract however many stitches were increased.)

To use a row of foundation stitches to replace the foundation chain and the first row of crochet:

Make sure the first row of your pattern does not involve any increases or decreases. However, if your pattern uses increases or decreases on the first row, or tells you to begin working a stitch pattern directly into the foundation chain, I recommend replacing your foundation chain with a row of foundation single crochet, and then beginning the first row of your pattern. (In other words, use the foundation single crochet row to replace the foundation chain, but not to replace the first row of crochet.)  The foundation single crochet is still rather narrrow, so won’t likely affect the look of the project.

Have you ever used Foundation Stitches in a project?

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How to Begin Your Crochet without a Foundation Chain

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  1. Robin Burleson

    Thank you for great tutorial!! I have looked at many and this is the first one that helped me understand completely. When you said to turn it upside down and insert into the chain stitch I finally understood! I am a intermediate beginner and this helped me tremendously! Thank you again !!

    • Yay for Yarn

      So glad you found it helpful, Robin!

  2. Leah

    Thanks for this tutorial. Is there a way I can safely unravel the foundation chain and redo the first few rows of a poncho working in a circle?

    • Yay for Yarn

      Hi Leah. Yes, it would be possible to unravel a portion of the poncho starting with the foundation chain and then graft in a new section. To prepare the poncho for grafting, you would need to run a length of waste yarn through the base of each stitch around the first row you want to keep, then, unravel the foundation chain and first few rows. This tutorial talks about grafting crochet. So if you were to start with a row / round of foundation stitches and work the first few rows of the poncho that need to be replaced, you could then use the grafting technique to add the new section back in. I hope this helps!

  3. Robin Carter

    My pattern calls for the chain 3 turning chain to count as a double crochet stitch and the last double crochet of each row is to be worked into the top of the turning chain. Each row should have 101 stitches total. To use this foundation double crochet as my chain/first row, would I do it like this: chain 4. Double crochet in 4th chain from hook. Then 99 more foundation double crochet. This would make my first 3 chains the first double crochet plus my 100 foundation double crochet for a total of 101 stitches. Is that right? Thank you for your help!!

    • Yay for Yarn

      Hi Robin. Yes, that is correct. The chains at the beginning of your foundation row will be the first stitch, then you will work a total of 100 foundation double crochet. I hope this helps!

  4. June Dykstra

    I have a question regarding using the chainless foundation in starting a garment and determining the starting length.

    I wanted to have a width of 25 inches. So I made the foundation 25 inches long.
    I was using a light #2 cotton/silk yarn, with a F hook.
    I am also working the garment in the Wattle stitch.
    My tension in on the loose side.

    After working rows to a height of 4 inches. I measured the width and only had 22 inches. I’ve lost 3 inches.
    My tension has not gotten tighter nor have I lost stitches.

    Do you have any idea why this is happening?

    • Yay for Yarn

      Hi June! When you are estimating how many stitches you need for a certain width, it’s most accurate to figure out how many stitches by making a gauge swatch of the main stitch you’ll be using. The foundation stitch edge can be very relaxed, so may measure longer at first than what the actual width of the piece will be when you start working your main stitch pattern. So, for example, I would suggest measuring your gauge in the wattle stitch, and use that to determine how many stitches you’ll need for the width you want. When you work into the foundation row, the following rows of stitches can help stabilize the foundation stitch row, so the foundation row lays nice and flat at a consistent width with the rest of the fabric, even if it was originally longer than the width of the piece. I hope this helps!

  5. Stacie J Kreitman

    Wow, mind blown! I have always been irritated that the chain row is not as stretchy. This is brilliant, and so well explained. Thanks. You taught this old dog a WONDERFUL new trick!

  6. Sara

    I’m so happy I found this for arm warmers and leg warmers that I make! I hate when they have no stretch at the cuff. One thing I ran into and maybe it’s because I’m new to this technique, but one pattern I have starts with a double crochet, so I did the foundation double crochet, but I have to join and work in the round. With this the “foundation chain” part isn’t joined. Would you just skip stitch it in with that first chain you make in the very beginning? Thank you!

    • Yay for Yarn

      Hi Sara! If you want to use the foundation stitches to begin something in the round, then yes, you will need to join the foundation edge. I like to do this by taking the yarn tail from the beginning and making a few small stitches to join the beginning and end of the foundation edge. Because your hook is at the top of the row when you finish the row of foundation stitches, you can’t really slip stitch the foundation edge together. So I prefer to stitch the join with the yarn tail. I hope this helps!

  7. Cecilia Young

    Your method is much easier to follow than the foundation stitch tutorial I had tried! I have one question. I pull on the yarn tail as you suggest but it doesn’t tighten as yours does. Am I making the slip knot wrong? How do you start it so it will pull tight?

    • Yay for Yarn

      Hi! Instead of making a regular slip knot, I leave the slip knot a little loose and count it as a chain stitch. (It is structured the same way.) So I leave the slip knot loose, work into it as if it were a chain stitch, and then tighten afterwards. I think some people begin this way to avoid the knot. Hope this helps!

  8. Linda Whitmore

    Happy you started using a darker yarn for this tutorial…much easier to see the technique!

  9. Judy Green

    Just restarted crocheting after a decade of needlepoint and cross stitch. My, how things have changed! I’m restarting with a simple sampler afghan and after the single crochet sampler, everything ripples on the edges. I’m signing off now to try these new ways to have straight edges. I’ll be back for all the new secrets.

    • Yay for Yarn

      Thanks for sharing, Judy! I hope these techniques work well for you!

  10. Kay Simpson

    I love this technique! Until now, I have only used it for single and half double foundations. Thank you for making these tutorials! I love the increased stretch.
    Have you ever hung a foundation chain on an Addi to begin your stitching from? What size hook would you use and would you hang both loops or only one on the needles?
    Thanks again!

    • Yay for Yarn

      You’re welcome, Kay! I have not hung a regular foundation chain on the Addi to cast on, as it doesn’t have enough stretch to be pulled that far between needles. However, I would think that would work just fine with the foundation stitches (like foundation sc or dc, etc) as they are much more stretchy and could probably be pulled the distance needed between needles. Hope this helps! Thanks!



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