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1916 Vintage Crochet Pattern – Fancy Shell Stitch

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In some projects, a fancy crochet stitch just makes sense. While I’m a crocheter, I’m also kind of a nerd, so I love reading. Recently I’ve been hunting down vintage crochet patterns. Specifically I’m looking for patterns that are in the Public Domain which means their copyright is expired and they can be posted here, for you.

This fancy shell stitch one of the pattern’s I’ve found. This crochet stitch was in a 1916 crochet book. In the book, the stitch was defined and then it was later used in a baby blanket project. I’ve added that baby blanket to my projects list to create eventually.

This post is for the stitch tutorial itself but, I also created a rectangular shawl using this stitch so be sure to check out that pattern as well!


This pattern can be worked with any weight of yarn and the corresponding hook. I recommend you start with a 3 or 4 weight yarn. I’m using a #4 worsted weight yarn and size I (5.5mm) crochet hook.

  • Lion Brand Mandala – Sequins
  • Size I (5.5mm) Crochet Hook
  • Yarn Needle (to weave in ends)
  • Scissors

Stitches Used

Chain (ch)

  1. Yarn over (yo)
  2. Pull through loop

Single Crochet (sc)

  1. Insert hook under both top loops of the stitch you are working into.
  2. Yarn over (yo)
  3. Pull through the stitch (there should now be two loops on your hook)
  4. Yarn over (yo)
  5. Pull through both loops on your hook.

Double Crochet (dc)

How to Crochet the Fancy Shell Stitch

This stitch has a repeat of six. That means you’ll need a starting chain of any multiple of six in order to work the pattern. For this tutorial, we’re going to create a block that is approximately 7″ wide by 7″ high for our stitch sampler blanket.

Starting Chain: Start with a chain of 24 (or any multiple of 6)

Row 1: Work 5 double crochets into the 4th stitch from the hook. *Skip two stitches and single crochet in the next chain. Chain 3. Skip two stitches and place 5 double crochets into the next stitch. Repeat from * till the end of the row. End the row with a single crochet in the last chain.

Row 2: Chain 3 and turn. Work 5 double crochets into the single crochet from the row below. *Skip the next four stitches. Place a single crochet into the next stitch (this is the last double crochet of the 5 double crochet shell from the row below). Chain 3. Place 5 double crochets into the next single crochet in the row below. * Repeat from * till the end of the row. End the row with a single crochet into the top of the chain 3.

💡 Tip: If you have trouble getting into the top of the chain 3, you can single crochet into the space between the chain 3 and the first double crochet instead.

Construction Tips 💡

Last Single Crochet of Each Row: For row 2 and on, if you have trouble getting into the top of the chain 3, you can single crochet into the space between the chain 3 and the first double crochet instead.

Slip Stitch Mistake: While working this project I would sometimes slip stitch between shells instead of single crochet. When this happens and you come back around, there isn’t a stitch to work your five double crochets into.

Experiment: Feel free to experiment with this project, especially on your sample swatch. For example, I played with letting the chain 3 count as a double crochet when turning and using just four double crochets for that first shell. You can also play with increasing or decreasing the number of chains between shells (you may have to adjust your foundation row if increasing). Remember, there are no rules in crochet, you can totally use this as a starting off point for your own creation.

Vintage Shell Stitch Pattern

The pattern I have written above is my interpretation of this original pattern that was published in 1916.

While reading these vintage crochet patterns may come easy to some, it’s definitely a process for me. Here is an example of one of several pages of notes I took while translating this pattern. On this page, I was trying to work out what multiples would work.

handwritten crochet diagram and multiple notes

Types of Shell Stitches

There are many different types of shell stitches used in crochet, each with its own unique look and texture. A shell stitch usually consists of some combination of 3 – 7 stitches worked into the same space.

Some of the most popular types include the blanket stitch, which consists of a single crochet stitch followed by two double crochets worked into the same stitch; the very popular granny stitch, which is three double crochets worked into the same space; and the fan stitch, which creates a wider, more open shell by working several stitches into the same stitch and then skipping a certain number of stitches before working another set of stitches.

Other popular shell stitches include the scallop stitch, the popcorn stitch, and the cluster stitch, each of which creates a different type of shell pattern.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Changing Color
  • Weaving in Ends

Video Tutorial