The Real Story of an Embroidery Stitch is Told on the Back

There was a recent question from a member on the Sew Daily community about how to make the back of her work look as good as the front. She is really on to something, because the fact is that embroidery that is well done should  look as good on the back as it does on the front.

The elegant, skeletal
feather stitch.

The back is almost as
elegant as the front.

  The sampler backup notes

But beyond good looks, that back side of well-crafted embroidery has another story to tell. It can teach you how to do the stitch.

Take a look at the feather stitch shown at left,  one of my most favorite for its skeletal elegance. But because it’s more decorative than utilitarian, the feather stitch is not one I do all the time.

I have created a sampler lexicon of stitches on muslin, as shown here,  to have a handy reference to pull out whenever I want to try something new. I just look at the back and the visual memory of how to do the stitch kicks in.

I can see that the stitch starts at the top and works its way down the spine. The back is almost as elegantly simple and unfussy as the front.

In addition, I have numbered notes to go with my sampler, just in case, I need more information on the stitch, but truthfully the real story is told by looking at the back of the work.

A stitch says a thousand words and like most of sewing, a visual can teach so much more than the most explicit directions on how to do a stitch.

If you want to learn more embellishment techniques, check out the new Embellish Me book in the Sew Daily Shop.

Have you taught yourself a new technique by looking at a sample of what you want to do? I would love to hear about it.

Happy stitching!


Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Hand Embroidery

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

3 thoughts on “The Real Story of an Embroidery Stitch is Told on the Back

  1. I have developed a fascination for the seed stitch and although it is a simple stitch, figuring out how to use it has been kind of fun. I guess density is the biggest decision. Embroidery was one of the first handwork techniques that I learned as a child and I have always enjoyed it.

  2. I have been interested in embroidery for a very long time and have done a bit of it over the years. I guess I have lived in a sheltered box or something because I have just recently found out that there is a LOT of embroidery stitches that I have not heard of much less stitched. I have gotten out my embroidery and have finally couched down some fiber. I want to try the bullion stitch but do not have the correct needle for it. I tried with the needles I have and it did not turn out. I did some research as to why my stitch did not turn out and came to the conclusion that it is my needle. I am enjoying embroidery once again.