Back Stitch & its 5 variations :Tutorial

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.

Related posts : Outline stitch; Easy hand sewing stitches.

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)

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

backstitch
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 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.

Splitting a back 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

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 


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

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.

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

The threading here is done in a different pattern. 

Related posts : 9 Basic hand sewing stitches.; Hand embroidery stitches