Back Stitch Guide: Variations and How to Stitch

Step-by-step instructions on how to perform a BACK STITCH- explore its 5 variations to create more intricate designs.

back stitchWhat is a Back stitch?

The back stitch is a very versatile stitch used in sewing and embroidery. This is my favorite stitch for outlining embroidery designs and regular hand sewing. It is used in many techniques like black embroidery and 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 does not overlap like other outline stitches and thus makes a flat stitch 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.

Related posts : Outline stitch; Different hand stitches.

How to do a backstitch

This is a basic back stitch used for sewing a seam, finishing a machine-made stitch with a hand stitch, etc. If you have a ripped seam and 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)

back stitch
Make the first back stitch from top to bottom.

Step 2

Bring up the needle one stitch above the point 1 at point 3

Take a stitch to the top 1-5

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 that stand apart. Ensure that you are making the 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.

Variations of Back stitch

Split back stitch (also called Split stitch)

This is a back stitch that is done in a slightly different manner than the regular one. As the name suggests, you split the back stitch to make this one. Take two threads on your needle to make this stitch.

split stitch
Splitting a back stitch

When you return after making a stitch, the previous stitch is pierced as you bring down the needle. This results in a more flattering stitch than any other outline stitch, like outline stitch or stem stitch, as the stitching line does not deviate. When worked fully, it looks almost like a chain stitch.

Keep the stitches small and even for a good effect.

Double back stitch

double back stitch
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.  

Step 1

reverse herringbone stitch
Reverse herringbone /Double Back stitch

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).

Step 2

double back stitch
Back stitch -variation

Take the needle down through  the same hole made at the top of the design (2).

Step 3

double back stitch
Back stitch/Reverse herringbone stitch

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

Step 4.

double back stitch
Back stitch – variation

Go to the opposite line one stitch up again. Continue in this manner 

double back stitch

A herringbone stitch will form 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

single thread back stitch
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.

decorative back stitch
Threading the back stitch

The fabric is not pierced when the lacing is done. 

Double threaded back stitch

decorative backstitch
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.

Pekinese Stitch

back stitch

In the pekinese stitch, the threading is done in a different pattern. 

Related posts : Hand embroidering stitch glossary

Subscribe to get weekly notifications of posts in your email

Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

1 thought on “Back Stitch Guide: Variations and How to Stitch”

Your opinion is important. Leave a comment