Strong, Versatile, and Trustworthy … It's the Backstitch!

Looking for a handsewing stitch that you'll find yourself returning to time and time again? Look no further than the humble backstitch.

Thread the needle and knot the end.
Bring the needle up from back to front.
Take the first stitch 1/4" to the
right of where the needle came up.
Bring the needle up 1/4" to the left
of where the needle first came up.
Here the backstitch is used to
outline. It also sews a very
strong seam–and is great for
adding beads for embellishing.

Although capable of holding seams together, outlining an area for embroidery, or creating a secure method for holding on beads for embellishment, the backstitch seldom gets top billing.

So let's learn the backstitch and give it little recognition. To demonstrate, I'm going to outline this elephant's ear using the backstitch.

1. Thread a needle and tie a knot on the end.

2. Bring the needle up from back to front.

3. Put the needle back down ¼" to the right.

4. Bring the needle back up ¼" to the left of where the needle first came up.

5. Bring the needle down ¼" to the right-which is where the thread first came up.

6. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

After you have your first two stitches in place, the "down-up" becomes a single motion. You'll be surprised at how quickly you make progress.

The wonderful thing about this stitch is that it creates a seam as strong as you can make on your sewing machine.

For beading, slide the bead on before you take that first stitch to the right. By backstitching (instead of using a running stitch), your beads will have an extra security stitch.

Once you add the backstitch to your repertoire, you'll find yourself returning to it often. I've given the backstitch a little promotion here. What's the hand stitch you go back to time and again? Let us know below.

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Happy stitching,





Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Sewing for Beginners, Sewing Machine Basics

5 thoughts on “Strong, Versatile, and Trustworthy … It's the Backstitch!

  1. I have been using backstitch for years and discovered it is a LOT easier to put a zipper in using it rather than the sewing machine. I also do all my buttonholes by hand using the old buttonhole (or closed blanket) stitch.