What is a Back stitch?
Back stitch is a very versatile stitch used in sewing as well as embroidery. This is my favorite stitch for outlining embroidery designs as well as for regular hand sewing. It is used in many embroidery techniques like black embroidery, canvas work. You can even use it as a filling stitch.
If you sew seams with a back stitch it can look almost like a machine made stitch. It is a very clean and simple stitch that doesnot overlap at all like other outline stitches and thus makes a flat stitch which is very attractive.
Each stitch is made even and of the same size – almost like the stitches made by the sewing machine. It is also as strong as a machine made stitch, so you can use it to hand sew quite strong seams.
How to do a back stitch
This is a basic back stitch – the kind used for sewing a seam, finishing a machine made stitch with a hand stitch, etc. If you have a ripped seam and you have only a hand sewing needle and thread this is the stitch you have to do to repair it.
Back stitch is worked from bottom to top of the design or from right to left.
Step 1. Bring up the needle one stitch above the end of the design at Point (1). Point 2 is the end of the design. Bring down the needle at the end at Point (2)
Bring up the needle one stitch above the point 1 at point 3
Bring down the needle at point 1 and then come up one stitch distance from Point 3 (Point 5 in the picture above). Continue doing this so that you have a line of stitches which stand apart. Ensure that you are making same size stitches.
Back stitches can be worked into many variations like whipped back stitch which wraps another thread around the back stitch thread without piercing the cloth. Here I have given the 2 main variations of back stitch
Varieties of Back stitch
Split back stitch (also called Split stitch)
This is a back stitch which is done in a slightly different manner than the regular one. As the name suggest you split the back stitch to make this one. Take two threads on your needle to make this stitch.
When you go back after making a stitch, the previous stitch is pierced as you bring down the needle. This results in a flatter stitch than any other outline stitches like outline stitch, or stem stitch as the stitching line does not deviate at all. When worked fully, it looks almost like a chain stitch.
Keep the stitches small and even for a good effect.
Double back stitch
This stitch is also called the reverse herringbone stitch. When you do this stitch a herringbone stitch is automatically created on the back side of the design. This stitch is used in shadow work to create the shadow on the back of the cloth.
Start one stitch down from the top end ( on any side of the design) . Bring up the needle there ( 1)
Take it to the top of the design and bring it down ( 2)
Bring up the needle on the opposite side of the design outline one stitch up. ( This will be parallel to the starting point for the first stitch)(3)
Take the needle down through the same hole made at the top of the design (2).
Bring the needle back up through the fabric one stitch length away from the first stitch at 5
Insert the needle at the same hole made by the first stitch – starting point (1)- now 6
Go to the opposite line one stitch up again. Continue in this manner
A herringbone stitch will be forming on the back side of the fabric.
Decorative back stitches
These are decorative stitches used in border designs etc with the base backstitch.
Single threaded Back stitch
In this a basic back stitch is made and then a contrasting thread is laced through the back stitches using a blunt needle.
The fabric is not pierced when the lacing is done.
Double threaded back stitch
In this case the back stitch is laced twice. The second time the lacing is done from the opposite side, through the previously unlaced portions.
The threading here is done in a different pattern.
Updated on November 12, 2022 by Sarina Tariq