Once you have learned how to crochet the basic stitches (such as half double crochet, double crochet, treble crochet, and longer stitches) you will find that you can combine these stitches in almost infinite variations to create different types of fabric. There are a set of advanced crochet stitches built from these basic crochet stitches that allow for some terrific texture.
They may seem complex at first glance but they are actually just small variations on one another, built from the foundation of your basic crochet stitches. These advanced stitches include crochet shells, popcorns, bobbles, clusters and puff stitch. In this guide, we’ll go over the major similarities and differences between these stitches and lead you to instructions for mastering each of them.
Note: Many patterns use these terms. However, each of these stitches have myriad variations and different designers will have unique instructions for each of them. A “bobble” or a “cluster” of stitches refers to the basic technique; you should read each pattern’s instructions carefully to make sure to get the specifics right for that particular design.
Le Papillon Cowl uses both bobble and shell stitches
Similarities in Advanced Stitches
Each of the five advanced stitches covered here have something in common. They are all made up of a combination of other basic stitches, worked together to create one stitch. For example, you can use a combination of 5 dc stitches to create almost all of these (the exception is the puff stitch, which is a variation on bobble stitch and will be explained in further detail later). So, you can have a 5 dc shell, popcorn, bobble and cluster. In each case, you will have 5 dc stitches worked next to each other to create the advanced stitch.
Differences in Advanced Stitches
So what makes the stitches different if they can all be worked with the same combination of basic stitches? The difference is in where you place the stitches and how you join them together. We will look at the specific construction of each stitch in detail, but first, here are the major differences between them:
Crochet shell stitch. The stitches are all worked into the same stitch. They are not joined together at the top.
Popcorn crochet stitch. The stitches are all worked into the same stitch. This is the same as the shell stitch until you get to the last step. You will remove the hook from the last loop, re-insert it (front to back) into the top of the first stitch, and pull the working loop through to join all of the stitches together at the top.
Bobble crochet stitch. The stitches are all worked into the same stitch. However, unlike in the first two examples, the stitches are not finished as they are worked. Instead, you leave the last loop of each stitch on the hook until the very end, then you yarn over and pull through to join them all at the top. So, in shell and popcorn stitch, you complete the stitches and join them all at the end; in bobble stitch you do not complete them until the end.
Crochet cluster stitch. Cluster stitch is similar to bobble stitch in that you do not complete each stitch until the end join. The difference is that each stitch is worked into subsequent stitches from the row below, instead of being worked into the same stitch.
Variations on Advanced Crochet Stitches
Each of these stitches is a variation on the others, different in where the stitch is placed and how it is joined. There are also many variations you can make within the stitches, themselves. There are different types of shell stitches as well as different types of popcorns, bobbles and clusters.
Crochet puff stitch is made with hdc stitches
Each of these stitches can be made using a variety of base stitches. For example, you can use double crochet stitches to make each of them but you could also make each of them using treble crochet stitches. What is different in puff stitch from all of these is that it can only be made using half double crochet. Puff stitch is almost exactly the same as bobble stitch, but it is worked using hdc and because of the third loop inherent to that stitch, there’s a slight difference in construction.
Crochet shell stitch made with 6 hdc stitches
In addition to the option for varied height in the stitches, you can also vary the number of stitches in each advanced stitch. It is very common to learn these stitches using 5 dc as the base. However, the number doesn’t have to be 5. You could make a shell stitch using 4 stitches or a popcorn using 6 stitches, just as examples. By varying both the height and the number of stitches in these advanced stitches, you can come up with so many different designs!
How to Crochet Shell Stitch
Crochet shell stitch is the most basic of these advanced crochet stitches because it doesn’t require any joining. In shell stitch, you crochet the required number of stitches into the same stitch. That’s it. First, let’s look at how to crochet a 5 dc shell stitch, which is the most common version of the stitch:
Double crochet into the stitch where you will make the shell stitch. This is the same double crochet stitch that you always make. Now make 4 more dc stitches into the exact same stitch. That’s it. That’s a 5 dc shell stitch. Note: typically you will skip spaces before and after the placement of the shell stitch; follow the instructions in the pattern for specifics.
Crochet shell stitch made with 5 dtr stitches
You can crochet shell stitch using different variations on the height of stitches and the number of stitches. You could, for example, work 7 hdc stitches into the same stitch or work 3 treble crochet stitches into the same stitch and these would be shell stitches. Shell stitch can also has more variation options than the other advanced stitches, in that you can work different heights of stitches into the same shell (1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc all worked in the same stitch is an example). A crochet shell stitch can also include chain stitches within the stitch (2 dc, ch, 2 dc in the same stitch is one option). See our complete guide to shell stitch variations.
How to Crochet Popcorn Stitch
Once you learn the basic crochet shell stitch, you are well on your way to being able to make popcorn stitches. The process starts the same: you crochet all of the stitches into the same stitch. The difference is that you will join them at the top. Here’s how it’s done, using the 5 dc popcorn stitch as an example:
Double crochet into the stitch where you are going to make your popcorn.
4 more dc into the same stitch. Note that at this stage you have created a 5 dc shell stitch.
Now, remove the hook from the working loop that is at the top of the last double crochet stitch.
Re-insert the hook from front to back into the top of the first double crochet in the group.
Pick up the working lop that you left on the 5th double crochet stitch.
Pull it through the top of the 1st double crochet stitch to close the entire group.
Optional: Chain one. This step is used to secure the top of the popcorn closed. Not all patterns call for this so be sure to check your instructions.
Popcorn made with 6 hdc
Popcorn made with 3 dtr stitches
The Popcorn Square in the Checkerboard Textures Throw uses 4 dc
The Floral Popcorn Scrubby uses a popcorn of 5 dc
How to Crochet Bobble Stitch
Bobble crochet stitch is similar to popcorn stitch in that you work all of the stitches into the same loop and secure them at the top. However, the stitches will not be fully complete as you work, and you will join them at the end without removing your hook from the work (in contrast to what would be done in popcorn stitch). This is how to work a 5 dc bobble stitch:
Double crochet into the stitch where you are going to make your popcorn BUT leave the final loop on the hook. The steps to do this are: Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over and pull through (three loops on hook), yarn over and pull through 2 of the loops. Note that to complete the double crochet you would yarn over again and pull through the last two loops, but you are skipping that step here.
Repeat the previous step four more times so that you have five not-quite-complete dc stitches worked into the same stitch. There will be six loops on the hook.
Yarn over and pull through all six loops. This closes your bobble crochet stitch.
Optional: Chain one. This step is used to secure the top of the bobble closed. Not all patterns call for this so be sure to check your instructions.
Bobble made with 5 dtr
Bobble Scrubby Bath Mat is made entirely of bobbles
How to Crochet Puff Stitch (a variation on bobble stitch)
Crochet puff stitch is essentially the same as crochet bobble stitch. However, bobble stitch is worked using stitches that are double crochet or taller. Puff stitch is worked only using half double crochet stitches. Because of the unique third loop in hdc, it has to be worked slightly differently than a regular bobble. Here are the instructions for a 5 hdc puff stitch:
Yarn over and insert the hook into the stitch where you are creating your puff stitch. Yarn over again and draw through. There will be three loops on the hook.
Repeat four more times. Each time adds 2 more loops to the hook. There will be 11 loops on the hook for a 5 hdc puff stitch.
Yarn over and pull through all loops on the hook.
Optional: Chain one. This step is used to secure the top of the puff stitch closed. It is rarely used so check your pattern instructions to see if it’s required.
There are variations on this basic set of instructions for puff stitch. For example, some instructions will have you pull through some of the loops on the hook as you work, so that you don’t have to pull through so many together at the end. One example is seen in the Puff Stitch Round Pillows pattern.
How to Crochet Cluster Stitch
Crochet cluster stitch is very similar to bobble stitch in that you will crochet a series of stitches, one after the other, leaving the last loop of each unfinished until the very end, when you will secure it all closed to create a single stitch. The difference is that bobble stitches are all worked into the same stitch whereas cluster stitches are worked into subsequent stitches. Here is how to work a 5 dc cluster stitch:
Double crochet into the stitch where you are going to start your cluster BUT leave the final loop on the hook. The steps to do this are: Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, yarn over and pull through (three loops on hook), yarn over and pull through 2 of the loops. Note that to complete the double crochet you would yarn over again and pull through the last two loops, but you are skipping that step here.
Repeat that into each of the next four stitches.
Yarn over and pull through all five stitches.
Note: in many of the other advanced stitches, there is now the option to chain one to further secure the stitch closed. This is almost never used in cluster stitch but check your pattern instructions to be sure.
Once you work a cluster stitch, you may notice that it seems familiar. That’s because clusters are used for decreasing. A 2 dc cluster is the exact same thing as a standard double crochet decrease, also called “dc2tog”. A cluster may, therefore, sometimes be abbreviated as “cluster stitch” but may be abbreviated “dc5tog” (or however many stitches you are working together). Cluster stitches are used for the decreasing in Chevron Crochet.
Cluster made of 5 sc
Cluster made of 5 dtr
Summer Breeze Throw uses a 3 dc cluster
Cluster Stitch Wrap is a great example of how a designer might have different names for the stitch than you’re used to. This pattern uses dc2tog and dc3tog, which are clusters. It also has what is called a cluster, but all of the stitches are worked in the same space so it’s really a bobble!