7 days of stitches: back stitch

7 days of stitches: back stitch

 UPDATE: Originally I wrote this post in February 2014 as a tutorial series. However, I recently felt that it would be great to vamp this series up and add some new insights of my own, picture examples and a pinterest board to get in the mood to start stitching! So if you are reading this in 2016 and later: Hello! You are reading the better and improved version :D

This is probably the most popular stitch with folks new to embroidery. It’s neat and versatile and you can stitch your way through all the outline embroidery patterns out there.


Stick the needle in the fabric one stitch length on the right where the thread comes out of the fabric. Then pull the needle through the fabric one stitch length on the left where the thread comes out of the fabric.



Repeat stitching in the hole on the right already made by the stitch before and come out of the fabric on the left.

The backstitch creates a neat line of defined stitches on the front side and a stem stitch on the back side.

Don’t make this common mistake:

Here is something people do when they want to save thread or perhaps didn’t learned it the right way: They make step 1 like in the picture above, but then instead of going back for every stitch they make one running stitch and one backstitch.


You save the amount of one stitch every 2nd stitch by doing this, but let’s take a look at what it looks like:


The line in the front is the cheater-backstitch, the line in the back is the proper backstitch. Do you see the difference? Right! Every second stitch is flat (the running stitch) and the other ones are risen (those are the proper backstitches). So if you compare this with the line in the back you’ll notice, that the proper backstitch line is all one height. Also because of the different directions every stitch is made (one is going left and one is going right) yarn with a sheen reflects the light differently than if the stitches were all heading in one direction.

I made this mistake in my early embroidery stages, too, often wondering why my stitches look so wonky. It was not until someone on a blog pointed out how many people make this mistake and often unknowlingly ruin their embroidery pieces this way. So my advice to you: don’t be lazy and do the proper backstitch. It looks so much better!

Some artwork showcasing this popular embroidery stitch:

Down Grapevine Lane embroidery tutorial

Great use of back stitch by Down Grapevine Lane’s statement embroidery tutorial

design sponge luck tutorial

Design Sponge’s tutorial on how to embroider on a Shirt using the back stitch.

cozyblue poppy pattern

Poppy Pattern by Cozyblue – the black stitches are mostly made in back stitch. This example shows how a simple drawing can live up by using a variety of stitches instead of just one! She used backstitch, chain stitch, satin stitch and french knots.

Here is one my own patterns that uses the back stitch:

Feathers hand embroidery pattern

Wait, there is more! Here are some great examples of embroidery featuring the BACK STITCH curated in a Pinterest board:

pinterest board back stitch

This tutorial is part of 7 days of stitches. Take a look over here to see all the other stitches.




Anne is an embroidery enthusiast living in rural north eastern Germany.

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