Cross stitch is lovely to look at, but one way to make the images clear and pop from the fabric is to back stitch the cross stitch back stitch to outline the images.
To learn more, look at our cross stitch basics.
What is the back stitch in cross stitch?
The back stitch is an embroidery stitch. It is used to draw a line with the floss. Cross stitch back stitch is like playing connect the dots!
The openings in the Aida or linen fabric are where the back stitching takes place. Look at the pattern and it will show exactly where the back stitch cross stitch lines will be done.
This embroidery stitch is called the back stitch because it is worked backwards. When a stitch is finished, it seems logical to continue the line by using the hole just used for the next stitch.
BUT that can't be done because the previous stitch will be undone. To avoid this, the back stitch continuously doubles back on the back of the fabric.
The front of the project will have a single, neat line, but the back will show a double line.
Learn more about the back stitch cross stitch by watching our video or keep reading this post.
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When do I use the back stitch cross stitch?
The back stitch is the perfect outline stitch. Outlining designs, letters or words are especially important to insure that the image will stand out in a design. Designs will look especially neat when outlined with the backstitch cross stitch.
It is helpful to play around with colors. Typically choosing a floss color for the cross stitch back stitch that is one or two shades darker than the cross stitching is all that is needed.
WHAT YOU NEED to embroider the cross stich back stitch
- Completed cross stitch piece
- Embroidery floss to make outline
- Embroidery needle
- Embroidery hoop
INSTRUCTIONS For the Cross stitch back stitch
STEP 1: Place the cloth into the embroidery hoop
Decide where the back stitch cross stitch will be worked. Take the fabric with that design in it and place it in an embroidery hoop.
STEP 2: tack down the cross stitch back stitch floss
Beginning with a threaded needle with one strand of embroidery floss, turn to the back of the fabric. Take the needle and run it through the back of a few of the stitches in the spot where the back stitching will begin.
Pull the embroidery thread through until the floss end is where the first stitch was gone under. The embroidery floss should be under all of the stitches to hold it in place.
Anchor the thread so it does not pull out by making a tiny stitch under the cross stitch.
step 3: begin the cross stitch back stitch outline on the front of the design
Push the needle up one hole in front of where the stitching will begin. This is necessary because the back stitch goes back one stitch before moving forward.
Next, push the needle down into the hole in the Aida cloth that is one stitch behind where the floss just came up. Pull the thread gently.
step 4: continue making the next back stitch cross stitch
To begin the next stitch, the needle will be pushed up through the back of the fabric one hole in front of where the stitch began. Now there will be a space between the first stitch and the beginning of the second stitch.
Gently pull on the embroidery floss. It is important not to pull too hard as the single thread will be pushed down into the fabric and the outline stitch will not show.
Next, push the needle down into the hole where the first stitch ended. The space between the stitches will now be filled in. The second stitch is complete.
step 5: Continue making more cross stitch back stitches using one of two methods
The back stitch can continue by pushing the thread up from the back and down through the back for each stitch. However, it is also possible and quicker to back stitch cross stitch by making the stitch in one motion.
When pushing the thread down in the Aida cloth, don't pull the needle all of the way through the fabric. Instead, push the needle up from the back into the hole in front of the previous stitch and then pull the needle through.
This makes the stitching go much more quickly. Gently pull on the embroidery floss when coming up to make the next stitch.
Continue in this way, pushing the needle part way down into the fabric then pushing it up two holes in front. Pull on the needle and floss, and a stitch will be completed and another stitch started in one movement.
step 6: finish off the cross stitch back stitching
When the back stitching is complete and the design has been outlined, push the needle through to the back of the project.
Turn the fabric so the back is facing up and push the needle through several stitches before cutting the floss. This will hold the stitching in place without making knots.
tip: turning the needle to prevent floss twisting
When doing embroidery, the floss often gets twisted up from the stitching. It is suggested by some to turn the fabric upside down with the needle hanging to allow it to untwist.
Instead, prevent the tangle of the embroidery floss by turning the needle counter-clockwise just a bit while coming up through the fabric and gently pulling the floss.
The back stitch cross stitch outline is now complete. I hope you enjoyed learning how to use the cross stitch back stitch to outline designs made in cross stitching.
If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video
comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.
Other cross stitch information