How to Back Stitch

  • 01 of 05

    Get Ready to Stitch a Back Stitch

    How to Back Stitch in Cross Stitch
    Mollie Johanson

    In this lesson, you will learn how to back stitch in a cross-stitch project. While this stitch isn't used in all cross stitch patterns, it's useful for adding detail to your work.

    To learn back stitch, you will need:

    • a pair of sharp scissors
    • a small embroidery hoop
    • a piece of 11-count Aida fabric large enough to overlap the hoop by a few inches
    • a short length of embroidery floss, any color
    • a size 24 tapestry needle.

    Find and mark the center of the fabric. Place the fabric in the hoop and set aside. Cut a 12 to ​14-inch length of six-strand embroidery floss. Separate two strands and thread the tapestry needle.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Work the First Back Stitch

    Taking the First Back Stitch
    Mollie Johanson

    When back stitching, it is helpful to start with a waste knot. Place the waste knot near the edge of the hoop. Count over two squares from the center of the fabric and bring the threaded needle up from the back of the fabric. The waste knot will keep the floss from pulling through to the front of the fabric as you stitch.

    Insert the needle in the hole in the Aida square that is to the left of the hole you brought the floss through. Each stitch will go "back" from where your needle came up.

    See the image above for guidance. Throughout this lesson, you will move your stitching hand from the back of the fabric to the front of the fabric as needed.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Work the Second Back Stitch

    Completing a Second Back Stitch
    Mollie Johanson

    Insert the needle in the next empty hole to the right on the fabric and draw the needle and floss to the front of the fabric. Do not pull the stitches too tightly or leave them too loose. You will learn how much tension to put on the floss as you stitch.

    Insert the needle in the hole to the left of the one you just drew the floss through to complete the second stitch. 

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Changing Directions as You Stitch

    Turning a Back Stitch Corner
    Mollie Johanson

    Each new stitch should come up one square away from the previous stitch and then go back down meeting up with the previous stitch. Even as you can change directions, the process for the stitch remains the same.

    It's easier to work within the large, main holes of the Aida, but if you need to outline a design with angled lines or on a shorter area, you can take smaller stitches through the weave of the fabric.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Using Back Stitch to Finish Your Cross Stitch Designs

    Completing a Back Stitch Square
    Mollie Johanson

    Back stitch is typically added last, finishing a project off with extra details and outlining the cross-stitched design. It's also used for traditional blackwork embroidery.

    Now that you have the back stitch down, you have a perfect starting point for finishing your cross stitch pieces and taking the final work up a notch. This stitch may seem very simple, but it is very crucial to your cross stitch projects. It adds dimension to the pattern and allows you to add facial features, tiny or fancy lettering, and it also closes up the stitching, so it looks more like an actual thing than just a bunch of "x's."