The chain stitch is one of the most basic embroidery stitches, with infinite variations. Each link of the chain in the attached line can be straight, curved, stitched in lines next to each other to fill an area, used as an outline for another shape, or as a single stem of a flower.
The needle comes up through the fabric and goes back down in the fabric in the same hole. The looped part is caught by the next stitch to come back up through the fabric. The links in the chain can be left loose for a more open look, or pulled tight for a more solid line.
Additionally, the use of a fuzzier thread will produce a chain link that appears to be more solid. A perle cotton, as seen in the example at the top of the page, allows for a more open look.
Check out this tutorial on the Mary Corbet on Youtube: