How to Backstitch by Hand

Do you want to know how to backstitch by hand? The usefulness of backstitching in sewing projects cannot be overemphasized. 

At the beginning and end of every seam, it is recommended you backstitch. Backstitching provides strength and durability to your seams. Without a backstitch, your hem might fall out, and consequently, your fabric would get loose.

Backstitch (also called stem stitch, outline stitch, and split stitch) is a class of embroidery and sewing stitches in which each stitch is sewn backwards to the general direction of sewing. 

Also, in general sewing, they are used as a utility stitch to add strength at both ends of your seams. 

The small stitches done back and forth on your fabric makes the backstitch the most rigid stitch among the basic stitches. Backstitching can be used to sew strong stitches by hand. 

How to Backstitch by Hand

Backstitching by hand is relatively easy to do. Firstly you thread your needle and mark the point where your seam would be. Then, you make your first stitch. The next step is to stitch backwards and repeat as much as you want.

Steps to Backstitch by Hand

Backstitching is a common procedure carried out amongst seasoned sewers but could be quite tasking most especially for newbies. It is even more difficult having to make a backstitch by hand.

You would need some necessary sewing supplies to backstitch such as

  1. Needle
  2. Scissors
  3. Pencils
  4. Ruler
  5. The fabric
  6. Thread

Step 1: Thread your needle

Depending on what you are using your backstitches for, I recommend an embroidery floss for embroidery purposes. Regular threads could be used for general sewing purposes. 

Insert your floss through the eye of the needle. It is necessary to tie the end of the thread with a large knot that won’t go through the fabric. You can make knots at both ends to double the line. This gives it extra strength.

Also, you need to use a double thread on your needle if you are using a regular thin line. For thicker embroidery floss, you don’t need to thread it double because it is thick enough.

Step 2: Mark your seams

Make lines on your fabric to guide you while sewing. This helps to keep your seam as straight and tidy as possible. You can do this with a ruler to sew straight seams. 

For curves, it is a longer process. Firstly you measure the seam allowance, then use your pencil to make short marks along the seam. 

When you have done this, it becomes easy to connect them using the pencil lines as a guide to follow. Ensure to make use of masking tape so that your markings will be visible.

Step 3: Make your first stitch

The next step is to put the needle into the fabric at the point where you want to start the seam. Put the needle back through both layers of fabric at a distance of ¼ inch just in front of where the knot is. Pull the thread through up to the knot at the end. 

Then, push the needle back into the material between the points where you inserted your needle at first to create the first stitch. At this point, it would look like a running stitch.

It is a common practice to sew small stitches when backstitching. 

This is because small stitches have a stronger hold on your fabric than long stitches. As a beginner, you may use long stitches of ¼ inch (for now). After you have gained a little expertise in sewing, you can make your stitches smaller. 

The ideal length for your stitch should be 1/8 inch. Smaller stitches are usually favoured in parts of your material that require secure seams. Otherwise, you can make your stitches a little longer.

More delicate fabrics usually need smaller stitches than thicker materials such as denim.

Note: Sew under a light or in a well-lit area. You’ll need good lighting to get the proper stitches and to make your stitches look more even.

Step 4: Make more stitches

To make the next stitch, push the needle through the material at the same distance when sewing the first stitch. 

Maintain the same length because it is crucial to keep your stitches even. Depending on how you want your stitches to appear, they can touch each other or be a little separate from each other. Maintain your style of stitching across your seam. It is essential to keep it uniform.

Step 5: Stitch Backward

It’s time to stitch backwards. Please make a small backstitch by putting in the needle at the point where we started. Do this at the knot.

Bring up the needle in front of the next stitch. Then make your second stitch. Still keep your stitches even, maintain the same distance as the first stitch for the double stitch.

Use your ruler to keep your stitches straight and in line. Don’t forget, the smaller your stitches, the stronger the seam will be.

Then pull your needle through to show your first backstitch.

Step 6: Keep backstitching

Keep backstitching till you get to the end of your seam. If you are sewing a hand seam, then it doesn’t matter if it is not perfectly straight, but for embroidery, you would want it to look as neat as possible.

That’s all you need to know how to apply backstitches on your fabric. You can easily pick up backstitching as a simple sewing project to mend your materials.

How to Use a Backstitch for Embroidery

Backstitching has various uses in embroidery. It is one of the basic outlining hand embroidery stitches alongside the cross stitch and the sewing stitch. It is one of the stitches you need to learn to perform embroidery on you.

This stitch derives its name from the sewing process, which results in each stitch going backwards from the direction of the line you are forming. 

You can decide to sew the backstitch by going from right to left or left to right. Experiment with backstitches on your fabric.

Backstitching produces a thin line of stitches that are perfect for outlining in almost all embroidery patterns. You can also put it to practical use to stitch two pieces of fabric together.

Although the backstitch is relatively easy to learn, you need some practice to make the stitches even. \

The goal should be how to train your eye to see how to space the stitches. For short lines, this might mean visually dividing the line into a certain number of stitches. With longer stitches, you might need to count your stitches as you go, so you don’t end up with a very small or very long last stitch.

What is Backstitch Used For

It can be used for mending seams, sewing small projects, fixing a zipper, and more.

Related Questions

Are there any alternatives to a backstitch?

If you fancy another type of stitch rather than the backstitch, you could use a running stitch. Running stitch is easy to learn. All it takes is simple up and down motion while sewing. However, it should be noted that it is not as strong as the backstitch.

How do you secure a backstitch?

To secure your backstitch, simply make a stitch on the wrong side of the fabric. Then, draw the floss through until you have a small loop. Push your needle through the loop and draw the line through again until you have another small circle.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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