January 21, 2023

Embroidery Stitch Tutorial: How to do the Back Stitch

By Tatum Schumann
embroidery hoop with lavender and the word build

Similar to the straight stitch, many stitches you'll learn will build off of the back stitch.

This stitch begins with a straight stitch, but is continued by stitching in a back and forth motion - which is how it got its name! During this stitch, you will work the thread backward from the direction of the line you're creating. Therefore, there are two ways you can form the back stitch - right to left (which is what I'll be showing you) and left to right. Be sure to give both ways a try!

At first glance, the back stitch actually looks very similar to the straight stitch; however, there are many characteristics that separate them. Aside from the back and forth movement of the thread as you're stitching, the back stitch also happens to be much stronger than the straight stitch and uses more thread as a result. In sewing, the back stitch is wonderful for bonding seams together and can even be used in leu of a machine. 

While the back stitch is super simple, it's continuous flow makes it a great choice to use for so many different things! 

The back stitch is excellent for lettering, but I also love using it for flower stems and outlines. Unlike the straight stitch, the back stitch has no spaces, so curves are taken really well! Just keep in mind, the key to creating that continuous appearance is maintaining consistency in the individual stitch lengths. Using small stitches helps tremendously as well! Although, this really depends on the size of your pattern. But if you really want to get fancy, you can also use a ruler to measure out equal distances for your stitch lengths and mark them on your fabric.

I recommend using a heat erasable pen to do this, but also think it's great to mark your fabric with a continuous guidance line so your outlines don't end up looking choppy! And the best part about it is you can remove the ink when you’re done! I like using the Pilot FriXion ColorSticks in black.

Instructions: How to do the Back Stitch

For the back stitch, I generally use 3 strands of thread, but feel free to increase or decrease the amount you use to create a more refined or bold look! 

Step 1: Bring your needle up through the fabric at the end of the line and down one stitch length away. 

This is otherwise known as the straight stitch. You can read more about the straight stitch in my blog post HERE.  
stitching the back stitch

Step 2: Pull the thread all the way through to the backside of the fabric then skip over and bring your needle up one stitch length away from the end of the first stitch. 

continuing to stitch the back stitch

Step 3: Take your needle down right where the first stitch ended. 

almost finished back stitch

Keep repeating steps 2-3 until you reach the end of the line. 

almost finished back stitch

I'm stitching the back stitch from right to left.

However, the written instructions could be applied to stitching from left to right as well! Both directions will give the same look and choosing which way to go will depend solely on personal preference. 

The back stitch is great to have in your repertoire for any linear stitches - once you have this one mastered, I recommend giving the whipped back stitch a try! 

CLICK HERE to view a video tutorial for how to do the back stitch, and be sure to give us a follow for future breakdowns!

Happy Stitching!

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