PBT: Ruffles, Shells, and Scales

This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

Some textural techniques I like to use when making the pixie pocket belts are ruffles, curlicues, shells, and crocodile stitch scales – in this post I’m going to cover the basics of how to create them in order to add dimension to the piece.


Ruffles and Curlicues:

The basic technique for making ruffles and curlicues is to create a row of stitching that is dramatically longer than the row it is stitched into – this is done by making 2-4 (or more) stitches into each stitch below. To create a practice ruffle, chain a small length and then 3 dc into each chain stitch.


The extra length created by the many stitches will force the fabric to buckle, creating a ruffle when the row is held flat, such as if you were to crochet many stitches onto a flat piece.


If you are working multiple stitches onto a long, skinny piece such as a chain, though, you can do more – when you twist the piece, the extra stitches will cause the base chain to curl in a spiral, creating a corkscrew or curlicue effect.


I love putting these curlicues at the end of chain cords to create a fun detail, and you can create various looks by changing up the height of the stitch you’re using or making multiple rows. To see an excellent comparison between what these different stitches would look like, use this very helpful post from 1 Dog Woof.

My ruffle chain allowed to spiral, but laid flat.
The finished ruffled laid flat, without twist.

Changing stitch heights and number of stitches is a good way to add variety to your corkscrew/curlicue/ruffle shape.


And speaking of changing stitch heights, shells are another versatile decoration I love to use in the Pixie Belts. Shells (also called scallops or fans) are a stitch pattern that uses a succession of stitch heights to create a rounded wave effect on a row of crochet. There are TONS of different ways to make these that all create a slightly different look. The basic strategy, though, is to start with a short stitch, like a single crochet, then move through the stitch heights to get taller…

Shown is a ch-1 turn (counts as first sc) then hdc, dc, tr, with one st worked in each stitch across.

…then doing the same thing in reverse to go back down in height.

Now the sequence is ch-1 (sc), hdc, dc, tr, dc, hdc, sc.

This can be done over a number of stitches to create an elongated wave, as shown above…


…or you can pile all the stitch heights into one stitch to create a more defined rounded shell shape. This one above starts with a sl st to anchor the shell, then skips a stitch and works hdc, 2 dc, hdc in the next st. Skip the next st, then anchor on the other side with a sc.


Crocodile Stitches

Now one of my favorite techniques, the scale: Also called the crocodile stitch, this stitch pattern uses a base layer of crochet in the pattern of (2 dc, ch 1, 1 dc, ch 1) skipping one or two stitches in between the alternating single/dual dc. Here’s a chart for what that looks like:


An example of the base layer of the croc stitch pattern, borrowed from an earlier tutorial.

Then, you create a second layer, working 5 dc into the post (side) of the dc stitch in a pairing, chaining 1, then working 5 more dc into the post on the opposite dc in the pairing. Anchor the scale by slip stitching into the unpaired dc.

CrocStitch2.pngThere are different strategies for working croc stitch, both in rows and in the round, and there are lots of videos out there demonstrating the techniques. This post on my blog has a couple short videos showing my technique specific for my Feather & Scale Halter pattern, but if like me you really like the croc stitch and want to make more designs with it, check out my crochet patterns that utilize this stitch!

Feather & Scale Halter
Sylphie Hat
Mermaid Mitts & Sandals
Cecilia Skirt Belt

Here are some examples of the techniques just discussed on the pixie belts I have made in the past:

“Kelp” has densely stitched hand-dyed handspun wool yarn in randomly alternating stitch heights along the edges of the belt base to create a ripply water-plant effect.
“Hemlock” has crocodile stitch across the bottom half of the belt with ripped silk fringe looped through the ch-1 space at the tip of the scale.
Shells run across the bottom of “Shepherd’s Purse” just before the netted portion, made from bulky white recycled sweater yarn.

For now, I’m taking these two little practice pieces I made for this tutorial and am stitching them onto the pixie belt base I worked on last post. To be continued, with pockets!





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