Step 5: How to Do the Backstitch

I use this stitch all the time for text. It makes the text easier to read and it's more uniform. I also use it for any outlines on drawings because it makes the outlines nice and crisp.

I use a slightly altered backstitch for embroidery - it keeps the back neater and leaves less dark lines that show through to the front.

Here's how to backstitch for embroidery:

  1. Bring your needle through to the front of the fabric and take a stitch to the right.
  2. Bring the needle back to the front of the fabric a stitch length to the right and then pass the needle through to the back of the fabric using the hole at the end of the first stitch. (As shown in the second photo)
  3. Use the hole at the end of the farthest right stitch to bring the needle back to the front of the fabric.
  4. Repeat until you're done!

You can backstitch to the left or the right - but try it to the right first to get the rhythm down. As long as you keep your stitches even lengths it will look great!

The most important thing about backstitching is to make sure you're using the hole that forms at the end of a stitch to start the next stitch anytime you can. Take a look at the back of my back stitch - see how everything is nice and neat? That's what you want. You'll use less floss that way and keep everything nice and organized.

The pictures will probably help make more sense of this! ;)

I've been meaning to show you the Japanese curtains I made for my boyfriend after reading your Instructable! I have never done anything artsy before and this was my first attempt at embroidery. It was a lot of hard work but I pulled it off... Thanks again!
<p>Holy bajeebus, those are GORGEOUS. I love the metallic thread too! Now I want to go make noren...</p>
Those are amazing! You did a beautiful job. Did you like doing it? Because I think you should keep on with it if you did - you seem to have a knack for it! :D
<p>Working my way through your tutorial. Thanks so much for keeping it short and sweet. I feel like I accomplished something today!</p>
<p>first embroidery project! Half way through , thanks for the tutorial. I'm not good at drawing or sketching or painting, it's super frustrating finding different mediums to work with ! I know it's kinda crappy cause I did it free hand. Il show you how it looks when it's finished !</p>
<p>That looks so great! I think that's really impressive for free hand. I can't wait to see what it looks like when you're done :D</p>
<p>Hip ! Hip! Hooray !?Finally done the flower thanks again for the tutorial I'm gonna be decking out these jeans !!! </p>
<p>Love this!!! Beautiful!</p>
<p>here are the jeans ! I found this pair at a thrift shop for 7$ . They are Apple bottom jeans that had a super wide leg that I made skinny fit. I love how they are turning out!now I got the song ! Apple bottom jeans - em-broid-erred - the whole club was looking at her!</p>
<p>Awesome! This really testifies that embroidery is easy and fun. Thank you for sharing an easy-to-follow instructions.</p><p> Bruce, <a href="https://www.printavo.com/" rel="nofollow">https://www.printavo.com</a> </p>
I did this one morning to practice for embroidering a quilt block on a quilt for my aunt and uncle. It worked out very well!!!! Thanks so much for teaching me those extra stitches!
<p>Oh, I love the way that looks! I've always wanted to embellish printed fabric. :D</p>
<p>I am taking on my first project, but with a challenge. I purchased blue and cream colored embroidery canvases and after cutting 2 rectangles 12x6 sewed them together, then set up the hoop to show 2/3 blue and 1/3 cream. I am planning a scene with embroidered grass below and clouds in the blue area above. It's going well but I am having trouble withe the split stitch grass at the seam. It's coming out very bulky even though I trimmed the seam as far as I could. Any ideas? Thanks</p>
<p>You know, I have never tried to embroider over a seam! I did some googling, and it looks like you may be able to smush the seam flatter by using a mallet to smack it. </p><p>The only thing I can think of to help will be a next time sort of thing, because it involves the way you sew the canvas. If you sewed it together and left a 1/4 inch seam allowance and pressed the seam open, that may be you best bet since you've only got two layers of canvas on each side and it's nice and flat. <br><br>Here are some photos of what I'm talking about: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-sew-a-quilt-Quilting-101/#step11</p>
<p>this seem hard but is not. </p>
<p>Hi. How many strands should you use if no number is specified? This is where I really get confused.</p>
<p>That is really personal preference! I tend to do 6, 3, and 2 strands for everything. </p><p>6 strands is great for outlining, satin stitching large areas, or big text since it's the thickest. I use 3 strands for smaller text or coloring in tiny areas. 2 is for complex outline or teeny details. </p><p>Sometimes if I'm unsure, I'll hold the thickness of floss I'm thinking about using up to the pattern, that can help you decide. :)</p>
<p>Hi there! I am really new to this so I have really enjoyed reading your instructions but I am a little confused with this.. So, on the 4th picture (or the 1st one in the row of three) would you then put the needle back left and go through the fabric right next to the first stitch that is there? Then after this would you need to make a double long stitch on the back so it stretches out far enough for you to do the same thing again?</p>
<p>Hi tlouisa, from what I understand you to be saying, I think you are right. Just to make sure, in the photo below the black arrow shows where the needle goes back in, and the green dot shows roughly where the needle should come back up. Then the need would go back in where you see the thread coming up in this picture.</p>
<p>I don't understand how the back looks the way the author's does. When you're going down at the arrow, up through the green dot, and back down to the left, shouldn't the back have long overlapping stitches instead of gaps every other stitch?</p>
<p>I just did a bit of backstitch to see...yes, the back stitches should overlap (unless I'm doing it wrong). I think 1) @jessyratfink changed the pictures from what they were, and 2) maybe those are the wrong back photos? </p>
<p>Sorry about that - I updated the photos without updating the text! I changed it all out now so it should be easier to understand. Have a look and let me know if it makes sense. :)</p><p><br>I've slightly modified the backstitch I was using so it is neater now!</p>
<p>Yes, that makes more sense now, and I liked the neater look, so thanks!</p>
<p>Sorry about that - I updated the photos without updating the text! I changed it all out now so it should be easier to understand. Have a look and let me know if it makes sense. :)<br><br>I've slightly modified the backstitch I was using so it is neater now!</p>
<p>Hello! I just began embroidering, and I have a question about transferring patterns. Is there a way to transfer your own, hand drawn patterns onto fabric? I searched the internet and all I could find were pre-made iron on designs. Thanks!</p>
<p>Here's how I do it! <br><br>https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-transfer-embroideries/</p>
<p>If you have a laser printer (not an inject printer):</p><p>* Scan you drawing in</p><p>* Print a mirror copy of your picture</p><p>* Put the paper on your fabric and iron it on</p><p>The reason why it works is because the printer work by essentially melting toner on the paper. So heating it up again will release some of the ink back onto the fabric. Most copiers and high end color printers work the same way.</p><p>An alternative method is to make the mirror image with computer and trace the picture with a washable crayon.</p>
I'm BRAND NEW to embroidery, like, I know NOTHING. When you buy floss to you separate the threads for embroidering?
<p>You can, yes! For example, on these embroideries, the outlines are made of the full six strands of the embroidery floss. The text is made of three strands of the embroidery floss. <br><br>Just cut a length of floss and then use your fingers to pull it apart. :)</p>
<p>Great idea to remind folks you don't need some high priced embroidery machine.</p>
<p>I just wanted to comment to say something nice about your choice of particular police box as subject matter. Thank you for beautifying the world!</p>
<p>Ha, thank you! I love Doctor Who but had never tried embroidering anything from it. Thankfully a customer set me down the right path :D</p>
This is so helpful! Thanks!
<p>Thanks for your sharing, I love all of them.</p>
<p>What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing this infor!</p>
<p>How do you get the floss to stop falling out of the needle when you make a stitch?</p>
<p>Keep a tail of about 2-3 inches long through the eye of the needle and try to hold your needle very close to the eye. The long tail and the pressure from your fingers will help keep it in place.</p><p>Once you've done it for a while, you can embroider with hardly any tail - it'll become second nature to constantly check to make sure you won't pull the thread out. :)</p>
<p>Thank you for doing this. It looks like you put a lot of work into it, and it is fantastic.</p>
<p>Thank you for taking the time to create this great easy-to-understand instruction page. I've been wanting to start an embrodery project for a while now and now I feel like I can do it! I'm so excited to get started on a pillow cover. I'm heading over to Michael's right now to get my supplies. :o)</p>
i am making a purse and i want to embroid it but it is way too small to use an embroidery loop. can i do it without it?
<p>I know this is old but I thought answering might help someone later one...embroidery hoops come in MANY different sizes. The smallest I have personally are 2 inches in diameter (across the middle of the circle) and the biggest is 14 inches in diameter. I think the sizes are available in 2 inch increments, but I could be wrong and there are likely larger/smaller hoops than what I have. Hope that helps!</p>
pretty one lolz
This was wonderful. Thank you for being so informative, and your photos were terrific. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I need to have reminders on stitches occasionally now that I get forgetful. It will be nice to have this handy , you did a beautiful job on showing the different stitches.
i just wanted to share a quilt that i just finished. the pegasus is hand embroidered with yarn. I wanted to do something with my art besides doing on paper. anyways, thanks for letting me share....
Thank you, very well done! &lt;3
Cannot wait to do this! I'm planning on making my daughters monster lovies for Christmas and need to embroider the happy, happy monster smiles!! I'll be going to get some embroidery thread this week! Thank you so, so much!
Can not get the hang of this! Ahhh It looks as tho it is going to work then when I pull it through it unwraps and comes through as a stitch : ( <br>Any advice?
It could be that your needle is coming out and going into the fabric very close together. Sometimes, when I try to bring the needle down really close to where I started, it can form a larger hole and I'll just end up pulling the knot right through! I've done it tons of times when I've been in a rush. <br><br>If that's not what's happening, I'd make sure to wrap it at least two times, and hold the thread taut until the thread loop forms and starts to goes through the knot. Sometimes it can be tempting to let go too early. I've done that too and had it unravel. :)<br><br>This is a good video, too, if you think watching it being done might help:<br>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul8XT72oA68
Thanks so much, great tutorial!!!

About This Instructable




Bio: part of the Instructables Design Studio by day, stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working on! ^_^
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