How to Make the Back of Cross Stitch Neat

Cross stitches make beautiful decorative patterns on the front side. But, how well you do your stitches will determine if the back will look neat or not.

Novices shouldn’t worry so much as they are still learning the skill and how to work around the stitches. Once you master it, check this article because it explains how to make the back of the cross stitch neat and clean.

How to Make the Back of Cross Stitch Neat?

You might think that no one cares about the back of cross-stitch, but some people do. This article will give great tips and pointers for achieving a cleaner and neater back.

While the front side has to look good, so should the back. It is for the durability of your stitches and the aesthetics of your project.

Achieving a Neat Back of Cross Stitch

Most people still insist that the back of your cross stitch can never be neat. It will depend on how complex your pattern is.

Some skilled cross stitch makers agree to this. You can get a pattern with so many smaller stitches.

achieving a neat back of cross stitch

They will be in many colors and all around on both the front and the backside. But, the back will have thread jumping over each other.

There can be many colors on the pattern. Thus, the back will look less neat.

It won’t be bad either, only messy and less appealing to the eye.

Below are things to remember when starting a cross-stitch project to achieve a neater look in the back.

If you have a project in progress and suddenly realize you didn’t work it well, this will help.

1. Grid the Project

Gridding your project helps you track your current stitching point on the pattern. You will avoid missing stitches, and this orients your work.

There are several ways of gridding a task. You can choose to make grid lines using waste thread.

If you don’t have waste thread, use a fabric pen. It should be washable to leave the fabric clean of ink after completing the project.

These pens are available in most crafts stores and online shops. Ensure you do patch testing on a different fabric.

Others use single dark threads to grid their projects. They are prone to slipping back, but you can return them in their place.

2. Work on Large Sections of One Color First

This step requires you to have a grid on your cross stitch pattern project. Work on a more extensive section of a single color first before embarking on another.

work on large sections of one color first

It gives your work a backbone. Big swatches help the designer to anchor the other colors.

It keeps you oriented as you work on your pattern. Depending on the arm you use to stitch, you can start from the left upper or right upper corner.

3. Anchor Your Thread

There is no specific method of anchoring your thread. So many variations exist, and everyone will always brag about how theirs is perfect.

Find your preference by watching cross-stitching videos online. Most people prefer to start with longer starting tails.

It allows your eyes to see the thread. Longer tails are also easy to control.

The length should be between 3 and 5 inches. Once you anchor in the third stitch, you can snip the thread off.

Also, learn the reverse stitch of ending a color.

4. Avoid Skipping Around

It is very tempting to skip around. You might do this to two or four stitches, but the impact will be more significant than you think.

Avoid skipping or hopping around, but it is possible to ignore one stitch. Thus, try the pin stitch method.

Hopping around too much interferes with the tension of the thread. You could have a back that is too tight from pulling or too loose from leaving hanging thread.

It might look good now, but when you frame the pattern, it starts to tighten or relax and look bad.

What Can Make You Worry About the Back of a Cross Stitch?

what can make you worry about the back of a cross stitch

Does this mean that you shouldn’t worry about the back of your cross stitch pattern, whether it is neat or messy?

A stitcher who loves aesthetics on both sides will worry. The quality of the back stitches of a cross stitch pattern will matter to them.

1. The Skill

Sometimes you stitch cross patterns on fabric, and the back isn’t messy at all. It means that you are using enough items and not wasting any.

Most naysayers often say this, but they are right. That’s because not being wasteful and having a neat back come under your cross stitching skills.

But, we have exemptions when achieving a cleaner back. It isn’t easy even for professional designers.

You don’t have to be anxious about your work. Sometimes the type of patterns forces your backs to be messy.

You can view several of these on Shutterstock to confirm. For instance, you can find a pattern with so many colors and many floating confetti stitches.

It means making it neat will be a problem. Starters who are yet to master the cross stitching skill can have the roughest time.

The backsides of their patterns can be a problem. But, as time goes by and with enough practice, it is easy to achieve a cleaner look on the back of most designs.

2. Framing

framing cross stitch

The back of your cross stitch pattern will not impact the framing of the project. What brings about the concern is home-framing.

Most people don’t use the appropriate system of framing. There are so many good guides on how to frame cross stitches that you can get insights from at the moment.

A good one is using foam. Foam is essential, which means that it will hide the blemishes at the back of the fabric.

You can’t see this when framing a cross stitch pattern project.

3. Trailing Threads

Some patterns have several confetti stitches. Others have spaces between blocks of the cross stitches.

Most starters tend to trail their threads across on the backside. If you are hanging your project after rounding it up, this can save you stress.

Once you hang your cross stitch pattern project on the wall, the back won’t be visible. But if you aren’t turning it, this should concern you even more.

For instance, others love to display their work on hoops on window sills. Windows with more light will make your trails visible from the front.

It happens when you use a darker thread than the fabric. Also, if you stitch onto clothes with thin materials, trailing lines will be visible.

It means that you have to be careful from the start.

4. When You Don’t Intend to Frame Your Project

Framing is an excellent way to hide messy backs of cross stitch patterns. But what happens when you don’t want to frame your project?

You might want a banner, and the back is visible. You can put felt at the backside, but most stitchers never consider this.

Tips To Use When Making A Cross Stitch Patterns Back

tips to use when making a cross stitch patterns back

There is no doubt that the front side is of the most concern. But, some perfectionists want their satisfaction equal.

They want neatness on both the front and backside of a pattern. Here are a few pointers to make things work for you.

If you are cross-stitching a pattern for a competition, take time. Be very sure that the judges will check how tidy and neat your back is looking.

Avoid carrying the floss very far across the open areas. It is vital, especially when using very delicate and refined fabric with darker floss colors as they will be visible from the front.

Don’t make huge knots. They create big lumps and make your front side look lumpy, especially if you frame your fabric.

You will use more floss if you make long stitch travels, especially without creating endpoints and starting over again.

It will be a big problem when using a small kit, and you don’t have enough spools of the thread color you are using. Try not to be as wasteful as possible in such instances.

How Can I Finish the Back of a Cross Stitch?

You can finish the back of a cross-stitch by adding a backing. It requires the use of overcasting and basting stitches and knots.

If you want to achieve a neat back at the finish point, ensure that you pull the fabric tight but not too tight.

Moreover, ensure that the knots are neither too big to look awkward nor too small not to secure the stitches well enough. A medium-size will be appropriate.

Should I Wash My Cross Stitch Pattern Before Framing It?

To achieve a clean look, you have to wash your cross stitch pattern project before framing it. Washing gets rid of natural lubricants that your hands leave behind while stitching.

If your gridding was with a fabric pen, washing it is necessary. It gets rid of any ink and leaves the fabric clean.

Sometimes, fabric comes from the store with dust and dirt. Wash them for a more appealing look.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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