How to Do Overlay Crocheting

by Katie Kenig Google
Overlay crochet can use up bits of yarn from other projects.

Overlay crochet can use up bits of yarn from other projects.

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Overlay crocheting takes inspiration from patterns of Mexican tiles, Buddhist sand mandalas, and stained glass artistry. The technique was developed in the 1990s by crochet author and designer Melody MacDuffee, who has since published several patterns and books on the subject. Overlay crochet combines the use of cables and back loop and front post stitches with a change of yarn color on every row to create a motif that resembles embroidery on the right side, and traditional crochet on the reverse.

Items you will need

  • Crochet hook, size K
  • Worsted weight yarn in multiple colors
  • Scissors
Step 1

Create a slipknot and slide it onto your crochet hook. Chain three and join with a slip stitch. Single crochet 10 times in the center of the ring, and join with a slip stitch.

Step 2

Create a slipknot in a new color of yarn, and join it to your work with a slip stitch. Chain two, and single crochet in only the back loop of the next stitch. Single crochet once in the next stitch, and twice in the next, repeating around and stitching in only the back loops.

Step 3

Continue to change colors and stitch in the back loops only of each round, increasing so that your motif lays flat. Beginning in the third or fourth row, use front post double and triple crochet across the front of your work, attaching stitches where desired in previous rows to create a pattern overlay. Carry unused colors across the back of your work if they will be repeated in subsequent rows.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take inspiration from online mandala and Mexican tile patterns. Sketching these onto graph paper will give a better idea of whether the pattern can be accomplished in overlay crochet, and of the stitches needed.


  • "Crochet Master Class"; Jean Leinhauser, Rita Weiss; 2010

About the Author

I have taught classes in writing and ASL, but teaching crafting techniques has been my passion for many years. I have had one-on-one tutoring classes and have taught groups as large as 60 in various seminars. I consider myself an expert in a wide range of crafts, from soap-making and jewelry design to crochet and needlework, and my teaching experience gives me an edge when it comes to sharing knowledge in a friendly and understandable way.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images