Embroidery Stitch Tutorial – Learn to Backstitch

The backstitch is one of the easiest embroidery stitches to learn.  It covers the pattern line in a series of straight little dashes with no space in between the stitches.

Supplies needed:

  • a skein of standard DMC embroidery floss
  • a needle — (embroidery size 7 is a good choice)
  • scissors to trim your floss
  • fabric with pattern traced onto it (already placed into an embroidery hoop)

First, cut a piece of embroidery floss 18”-20″ long.   I just use a piece approximately the length of my arm :).

Standard DMC embroidery floss is made up of 6 individual strands. The number of strands that you use will determine the thickness of your completed stitched line. I typically use 2 or 3 strands for most projects.   In this example, I will use 4 strands just to make it easier to see my stitches.

To separate your floss, gently hold one end of your cut length. Now, pull a single strand up and out – slowly and gently to avoid tangling. Set it aside.  Repeat until you have the desired number of strands for stitching. Rejoin the separated strands by lining them up at one end and gently stroking down the length till they sorta stick together.

Now you will need to thread your needle and tie a small knot in one end. I have posted a photo tutorial that will teach you how to tie a perfect knot for stitching.   In the future, I’ll teach alternative methods for securing the first few stitches (leaving a tail and then weaving it in at the end, or using a waste knot) but for now, a small knot should be fine.

1. Starting from the back of your fabric, insert your needle at point A (the start of your stitching line) and pull it all the way through to the front.

2. Insert your needle down at point B and pull it through to form your 1st stitch. I like to use a stitch length of approximately 1/8”.

3. Come up from the back at point C (which is one stitch length from the end of your 1st stitch) and insert your needle at point B into the same hole you previously created. Pull it through to form your 2nd stitch.

4. Repeat this process until you complete the line of stitching.

You can stab your needle up and down and pull your fabric through each time (nope – not for me!) OR…. you can go much faster by doing steps 2 and 3 in one motion before pulling your thread through all the way.   See below.

The back of your work will have an overlapping line of thread on it.

To tie off your thread, weave your floss through the stitches and then form a small loop and insert your needle through it to make a tiny knot to secure it. Trim close to your knot.

TIP – Avoid jumping from one set of stitching to another across an open area.  Anytime I need to stitch in a new and unconnected section, I always tie off and restart my thread.  This avoids a messy back and the likelihood that the excess thread will show through the front.

TIP – As you go around curves, taking smaller stitches helps to avoid a choppy look.

Now you can use this simple stitch to try out my free crayon embroidery medallion pattern (coming soon) or on some of the patterns available in my etsy shop.

Happy stitching!