How to Properly Backstitch in Cross Stitch

A backstitch is one of the basic cross stitch patterns. It is more like drawing a line with a thread or floss.

We call it a backstitch because the stitches are achieved by sewing backward. When you finish a stitch, you continue the line using the hole used for the next stitch.

In cross stitching, we use backstitches to make lines around cross stitches to stitch letters and wording. So, today’s post will talk about how one can correctly backstitch in Cross Stitch.

How to Properly Backstitch in Cross Stitch?

In Cross stitching, the backstitch adds a beautiful and clean finish. It also adds extra detail and outlining to a design.

Backstitching in Cross Stitch is not a complex process, and one can achieve it in a few steps.

Here are some of the materials and steps to achieve this stitch.

Materials You’ll Need

Before beginning your project, you need to gather all materials you will need together. Here are the essential materials you will need to backstitch in a cross-stitch project.

1. Tapestry Needle

Tapestry needles are large needles with a large eye and blunt end. That makes it easy to insert the thread into the eye.

The needle that you will use for the project must be blunt. Blunt needles help in protecting your fingers from accidents.

The needle size should always match the fabric type. Pay attention to the fabric counts to find out the needle size to use for your project.

For example, Aida fabric, which is 11-count, will need a tapestry needle size 24.

2. Hoop

A hoop helps to hold the fabric in position as you make the stitches. The fabric size determines the hoop size.

For extensive fabrics, use a bigger hoop so you will not have to keep moving your fabric around as you stitch.

3. A Pair of Scissors

The ideal scissor to use is the embroidery scissors. That’s because it has short blades, and it is sharp, making it achieve a clean finish when cutting thread.

4. Fabric or Cloth

There are different cross-stitching fabrics to choose from for your project. The most common type is Aida cloth. Made from 100% cotton, it has an even weave which makes it easy to achieve perfect stitches.

The fabric comes in different counts. The choice of fabric type and the fabric count is entirely up to you, depending on your preference.

5. Stranded Cotton

Stranded cotton, also known as thread or floss, is another tool you will need for your project. The strand of thread comprises at least six other strands.

You can separate the thread strands. For example, you will generally need at least one strand when making a backstitch in cross-stitching. But you can alter the number to your preference if you wish.

Now, let’s check out the crucial steps you should follow to backstitch in a cross-stitch project.

Step 1: Getting Started

At the very beginning, you must place your fabric on the hoop. When placing the fabric on the hoop, ensure that you identify the center of the fabric.

Place the center of the fabric at the center of the hoop. The easiest way to identify the center of the fabric is to fold it in half.

After folding it, you can pinch, crease, and mark the center with a tiny stitch. Then take your thread or floss and cut it at a length of 12 to 14 inches. The thread should not be too long to prevent it from forming knots.

After cutting, separate two strands from the six thread strands and use them to thread the tapestry needle.

Step 2: The Initial Stitches

Start your stitch by placing a waste knot near the edge of the hoop. This knot keeps the thread or stitch from pulling through the first stitches.

After making the waste knot, count two squares from the center of the fabric. Then bring the threaded tapestry needle up from the back of the fabric, thereby creating a tiny hole.

The next thing to do is insert the needle in the hole to the left side of the hole you brought the floss through and draw through the back of the fabric. Each stitch you make will go back from where the needle came up.

Step 3: Making the Next Stitches

The subsequent stitches that you will make should neither be too tight nor too loose. The tension you should put on the floss will be determined as you stitch.

You can make the stitches by inserting the needle from the back into the next empty hole to the right side. Make sure you draw the needle through the front.

Then, insert the needle from the front of the hole to the left of the hole you previously came through. Next, draw the needle from the back to complete the stitch. Make sure each stitch is one square away from the previous one.

Step 4: Changing the Direction

You can change the stitch direction, but the stitching process remains the same.

Changing direction involves changing the position of the stitches. If you are going downward, make sure the stitches follow that direction.

Step 5: Practice!

We hear practice helps to produce perfect results. So use the same process outlined to practice and improve your skills.

Start by making a two-stitch square on Aida cloth and use the square as a base for making a pattern with single stitch shapes like backstitch.

How Do You End a Backstitch in Cross Stitch?

Ending the backstitch is very crucial. If done incorrectly, the stitches can start to unravel.

Using a knot to secure the stitches is not a good idea. The reason being a knot can slip through the fabric, causing the stitches to unravel.

Here are the steps to follow when ending your backstitch in a cross-stitch.

Step 1: Start Stitching

Make a stitch on the backside of the fabric. Pull the thread slowly until you have a small loop. It is more or less like leaving a stitch to lose.

Step 2: Insert the Needle in the First Loop

After this, insert the needle through the loop and pull. Do not pull too tight to ensure you can form another smaller loop.

Step 3: Insert the Needle in the Second Loop

Insert the needle into the second loop formed and pull tight. It will secure both the first and second loop.

Important Tips to Remember

1. Make sure the tension of your stitches is even. Please do not pull the thread too hard because it will warp the fabric. Besides, please do not leave it too loose either because it tends to look sloppy.

2. Your tension should be tight enough to make the stitches lie flat against the fabric. If you’re not sure of the tension, experiment on scrap fabric until you learn.

3. Do not make long jumps at the backside of the fabrics. That’s because the stitches may end up showing on the openings on the front.

4. Though cross-stitching is a flexible style, be consistent with your stitching. Make sure your stitches at least face the same direction. It makes the stitches and the outcome beautiful.

5. Always avoid knots that can form as you stitch. You can do this by letting the floss hang free occasionally to prevent it from getting twisted, which would lead to knots forming.

6. Have good lighting. Lighting can either make or break your sewing project. For example, good lighting prevents thread or floss color confusion and improper stitch placement.

7. Work within the large central holes of the fabric because it is easier. But if you are working on a shorter area, take smaller stitches through the fabric’s weave.

8. Sit up straight on your stitching station. The seating position you choose should allow you to work freely.

9. Pick up all-important supplies before beginning your project. It will prevent unnecessary stops while you work on the project. To make sure you do not leave out anything, create a checklist and use it to check if you have all materials you need.

Do You Cross Stitch or Back Stitch First?

The cross stitch comes before the backstitch. Thus, if you start with a backstitch, the lines may be lost under the cross-stitch.

So, make sure you finish your cross stitch before you can do a backstitch. But this does not imply you have to finish all the cross stitches before you can backstitch.

If the area that will require the backstitch has cross-stitches, you can do the backstitch.

How Many Squares Should Someone Back Stitch Over at a Time?

How many squares one should backstitch over time is a matter of preference. Some will back stitch over one square at a time. Others will backstitch over more than one square.

There is only one exception, and this is when the line to stitch is at a steeper angle and does not seem to cross over any holes. It leaves you with no choice but to backstitch to the nearest hole after the angle.

You can try stitching with one or more squares at a time to find which effect you like.



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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