Sewing Glossary

What is a Back Stitch in Sewing? (How to Do It)

March 20, 2023 by

In this guide, we’ll be diving into backstitching

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

What is a Back Stitch?

Backstitch is led by setting the needle back of the end of the last stitch, then bringing it out in front of the end. Basically, a stitch in which the thread is doubled back on the preceding stitch.

The backstitch tends to be quite tight and locked stitch, making it appear very neat.

These stitches form lines and are most often used to outline shapes as it adds fine decoration to an embroidered picture.

It is commonly used both in embroidery art and in cross stitch projects to add details to designs, or used to portray greetings by stitching words and letters.

Backstitch is the basic stage for beginners to learn which is fairly easy to do once learned. Also, various kinds of applique can be done through backstitch.

It’s basically to sew with stitches overlapping with each other, done in a typical direction of sewing.

The easiest tip to start a backstitch can be done by using a short-length needle, (1.25 in (3.2 cm) long) also use a shorter hole in the needle and not an elongated one.

An elongated hole will make the thread insertion more difficult. It will be easier to practice in an embroidery hoop but fix your fabric evenly and remove any creases.

Take a pencil or fabric chalk and ruler, then draw a straight line on the fabric. Then sew according to that chalked line you have marked already.

You can do backstitch in curve lines or a circular shape but if for the first time then start with a square marked line.

It is instructed to do the backstitch going from right to left and left to right. Try to do both ways. Practice on a small square of cotton using different needles.

The examples of backstitch include basic outlining hand embroidery, cross-stitch, and sewing stitch and also in Assisi embroidery as well as occasionally in blackwork.

It is the first kind of stitch to learn when learning embroidery. It is used as a base for embellishment as in Pekinese stitch.

Backstitch is typically used for hand sewing, by attaching two pieces of fabric and stitching them together. Backstitch is also commonly used for embroider lettering.

How Do You Do a Back Stitch?

You can start by choosing a thread, needle, and a piece of cotton fabric. To do backstitch, start to sew from right to left.

Come up with the needle through the back of the fabric. Then go back down through the fabric a little bit back where you came up at first, forming a straight stitch.

Then skip ahead and come up with a needle through the fabric again, just as the same length as the first stitch you completed.

Then go back down right where the last stitch you finished. Lastly, you can just repeat the required length and continue the seam.

To see it in action, we recommend this video by Red Ted Art:

When Do You Need to Do a Back Stitch?

The main necessity of the backstitch is to sew strong seams without a sewing machine. It is also used as an alternative to machine sewing because it gives a neat look.

Apart, it is stronger than the simple running stitch. However, it requires more time but can be carried in a quick manner.

When hand sewing, backstitch can be used for decorative things as they can form outlines or shapes.

For example, most commonly used to create tiny stitches in an embroidered floss for dolls face like eyelashes shape and smiling outline.

Also, back stitches are required doing multiple chores such as repairing seams, hand sewing applique, even attaching a zipper.

It is also needed when attaching two pieces of fabric together.

Why is it Called a Back Stitch?

The reason to name it backstitch, as the needle is inserted into the fabric mainly behind the thread of the preceding stitch.

Hence it is conducted by the insertion of thread backward than the usual forward stitch.

What is the Difference Between a Running Stitch and a Back Stitch?

A running stitch is made by inserting the needle into the fabric in front of the thread from the previous stitch.

Whereas in backstitch stitches are sewn backward to the direction of the sewing. It is continuously completed without any spaces.

To see the difference in action, we recommend this video by Happy House:

Final Remarks

Backstitching is the basics of learning sewing techniques as it is one of the most important stitch kinds that you require as a dressmaker.

It can block stitches from unraveling with use, back-stitching, therefore, tends to lengthen a garment’s life.