Back Stitch - Simple but Important

The Back Stitch, also known as Hem Stitch, is a neat stitch utilized in both embroidery and plain sewing. It is a very simple stitch and is quickly done, therefore, used often in embroidery. It is also a popular stitch with quilters. It is most easily used on even weave fabrics where threads can be counted to ensure even stitches. It can be use effectively on simple as well as complex outlines. When completed, it looks much like machine stitching.

This stitch can stand on its own. When used as an outline stitch, no filling in of the pattern is necessary. When done this way, it is known as Back Stitch embroidery. (No surprise there, right?). Patterns can be easily found on the Internet.

This kind of work is now often done with the sewing machine which makes the stitches perfectly equal and even.


Back stitch can be worked in any direction. Although a wonderful stitch for outlining, it should never be used as a fill stitch.

Work is done from top to bottom or from right to left.

Bring the needle up upon a traced line, and insert it into the material, a little behind where it came up, and bring it out a little beyond, both putting it in and bringing it out upon the straight lie. Put the needle down again in the same hole made when it first came up, and bring it out again on the line a few threads forward. Continue to make small even stitches in this way along the line.

The beauty of the stitch depends upon every stitch being made of the same size, and kept in an even line. Victorian ladies were advised to draw a thread for a guide. Today, if this is not possible or practical, a pen with disappearing ink or temporary marking pencil may be used.

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