How to Crochet Shells

Crochet Shells give a timeless lacey look to any project. They make great edgings, and best of all, they’re deceptively easy to make! In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to crochet shells with a video tutorial walkthrough.

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How to Crochet Shells - learn to crochet shells with video tutorial. Green crochet square with shells pattern beside green crochet hook on white background.


If you’re following along in the Learn to crochet series and you plan on joining your sample squares together at the end of the project, I recommend using the same yarns throughout. You’re welcome to use whatever you’d like, but here’s what I used:

  • Any worsted weight yarn – I used Caron Simply Soft
  • Size I crochet hook – I love these Odyssey hooks from Furls Crochet!
  • Yarn/Tapestry Needle for weaving in ends.

How to Crochet Shells Video Tutorial

How to Crochet Shells

The basic principle behind shells is that you have clusters of stitches all worked into the same stitch. However, since you don’t (usually) want to increase your total stitch count, you need to then skip some stitches. For our practice square, I started with a chain of 29. You can start with any size chain you’d like, so long as it is a multiple of five stitches plus four (so 5×2+4 = 14, 5×3+4=19, 5×4+4=24, etc).

Each side of our square will have a ‘half shell’. Start by working a double crochet in the 4th chain from your hook (the first three chain stitches count as your first double crochet). Work another dc in the same stitch. You should have three dc in the same ch stitch (your turn chain and two more dc). This is your first ‘half shell’.

Next, you need to skip the next four chain stitches. Do five double crochet in the next ch stitch. This is your first full shell. Repeat this across your row – sk 4, dc5 in next st – until you get to the end of your row. In the last ch, you’ll work just 3dc instead of 5 to create your end of the row ‘half shell’.

ch3, turn, work 2dc in the same stitch. Now you don’t really need to count your skipped stitches anymore, since you have your shell pattern established. Work 5dc in the center stitch of your next shell. Repeat across to the last ‘half shell’ and work 3dc in the turn chain. Repeat this pattern until your fabric reaches 6″ or desired length.

Green Crocheted 6" square with shells pattern

In simplified crochet pattern language:

  1. ch29
  2. 2dc in 4th ch from hook, *sk 4, 5dc in next st, repeat from * across, finishing with 3dc in last ch.
  3. ch3, turn, 2dc in same st, *5dc in center st of next shell, repeat from * across, ending with 3dc in last st.
  4. Repeat row 3 until you have reached your desired length (I did 10 rows of shells total)

Stay tuned for a free pattern using crochet shells coming your way in a couple of weeks, and don’t forget to check out last week’s tutorial, how to crochet puff stitch!