Do you want to learn how to do the backstitch? Backstitch embroidery is a basic embroidery stitch that is simple to do and learn. The backstitch gets its name from the backward motion of the stitch. Sometimes it is referred to as the "back stitch"; two words instead of one.
The backstitch is one of the quickest and easiest of embroidery stitches to master. The most challenging part of mastering the backstitch is to produce the stitches an even length and keep the stitches straight.
It is most often used as a straight outline stitch. In addition, this stitch also forms the base line for other decorative stitches.
Depending on the type of thread uses, the back stitch embroidery stitches can be a delicate or heavy line. If done properly, the back stitch gives you a neat and smooth line.
Interested in other embroidery stitches? We have put together a long list of links to videos and tutorials for basic to advanced embroidery stitches.
Learn how to hand embroider the backstitch by watching our video or keep reading this post for a photo tutorial with instructions.
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how to embroider the backstitch
WHAT YOU NEED to practice the back stitch:
- Embroidery Hoop
HOW MANY STRANDS OF FLOSS ARE USED FOR MAKING THE BACKSTITCH?
This really depends on the pattern and what you are embroidering. Most patterns contain notes on the number of strands to use.
In modern embroidery, it is common to backstitch with all six strands of floss in the needle at once. This creates a chunky, bulky style. I, myself, like a more delicate style of embroidery so I decrease the number of stands until I find the weight that looks appealing to my eye.
Besides embroidery floss, you can use Perle cotton, crewel yarn, tapestry yarn just to name a few.
WHEN can YOU USE THE BACKSTITCH?
- Outlining embroidery patterns
- Outline cross stitch designs
- Embroider rounded or curvy shapes
- Embroider text and letters
- Redwork embroidery
- Stitch appliques to project
- Stitch facial features
let's learn backstitch embroidery
There are two methods for working the backstitch - the stabbing method and the sewing method. This written tutorial and video tutorial will explain how to backstitch using both methods.
Which method is best? This is totally up to you.
how to do the backstitch
To learn and practice the backstitch, draw pencil lines on some fabric. Make some lines straight and some curvy.
Then, secure the fabric in an embroidery hoop. Thread a needle with a 14 - 18" length of embroidery floss or whatever type of thread you wish to use.
For this backstitch technique, with each part of the stitch, you pull the needle through the fabric every single time. With this method, your hand is constantly moving back and forth between the front and back of the fabric.
The stabbing method of backstitching is slower than the sewing method.
Decide on the length you plan on making your stitches. The back stitch is formed by starting off with one straight stitch. To start the first stitch bring the threaded needle up from the back of the fabric at the beginning of the marked line. Pull the thread through.
Then go back down one stitch length away along the drawn line and pull the thread through. This is the first stitch. You can make the stitch length as long or as short as you want.
For the second stitch, bring the needle up from the back of the fabric one stitch length away from the first stitch. You want to try to make each stitch about the same size to give your line a uniform look. Pull the thread up.
Now, poke your needle back down through the fabric exactly where the first stitch ended. This is the "back" part of the backstitch. Pull the thread through to the back. This is your first backstitch.
Repeat this pattern of stitching to continue backstitching. Poke your needle up through the back of the fabric one stitch length away from the previous stitch. Then, pass the thread down at the end of the last stitch.
Repeat, repeat, repeat until the line is finished or until you run out of thread.
When backstitching using the sewing method, the needle remains on the top of the work. You put the point of the needle through the fabric and bring it back out of the fabric in one step. Then you'll pull the thread through.
Your hand which is making the stitches remains on the top of your embroidery and seldom needs to go to the back of the hoop.
With the sewing method, bring the needle up from the back of the fabric one stitch length away from the beginning of the marked line. Pull the thread through.
In a sewing motion, poke the needle backward down at the beginning of the line and bring the needle up where the left end of the second stitch will be. Pull the thread through. This is the first backstitch.
Again in a backward motion insert the needle exactly where the last stitch ended and come up along the line one stitch length away (where the left end of the next stitch will be).
Repeat this pattern of stitching until the row is complete or you run out of thread.
Note: Another way to start the backstitch sewing method is with one straight stitch, like in the stabbing method. You start by bringing the threaded needle up from the back of the fabric at the beginning of the marked line. Pull the thread through.
Insert the needle back down one stitch length away along the drawn line and pull the thread through. The one straight stitch is complete. Now, bring the needle up from the back of the fabric one stitch way; pull the thread through. Begin the sewing backstitch method.
TO KNOT OR NOT TO KNOT!
Many individuals will say to tie a knot when you begin to embroider. Other individuals say never use a knot.
In my option, it depends on what you are embroidering.
If the back of the finished embroidery project will be seen, such as towels, napkins, tablecloths, bibs, hankies, etc., you'll be happier with the finished project if you weave the thread ends into a few stitches instead of knotting them.
If the back of the embroidery project will not be seen, such as a quilt, a wall hanging, a pillow cover, or a framed piece, you may be able to use knots. However, if you are embroidering on a light color or lightweight fabric you may see the knots through the fabric. In this case to avoid disappointment in the finished project, avoid using knots.
HOW TO WEAVE THREAD ENDS when backstitching
Starting Thread by Weaving
To weave the thread end into stitches, push the needle up from the back to the front of the fabric. Pull the thread through leaving a one to two-inch tail on the back.
Hold the thread tail on the back with a finger and make your first stitch.
When making the next stitch don't pull the thread entirely through to the top. If you flip the embroidery over and look at the back, you will see a loop. Weave the thread end under the loop.
Every time to make a stitch, weave the thread end under the loop until there's almost no tail left. Trim.
Ending Threads by Weaving
When you’re done stitching Or when you run out of thread, take your thread to the back of the fabric and weave your needle in and out under the last few stitches before cutting off the excess thread.
A Final Tip:
When backstitching around curvy or round lines, you may need to reduce the stitch length to have a neat transition around the curves.
I hope you’ve found this backstitch tutorial useful and don’t forget to share it with others to spread the love of embroidery!
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Have Embroidery FUN!
Chris & Annette
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Snow Buddie Embroidery - Practice the backstitch and make a cute project at the same time with this free snow buddies embroidery pattern and project tutorial.
Blanket Stitch Tutorial - Learn how to do blanket stitch.