Backstitch Instructions

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Things You'll Need

  • Embroidery floss or thread
  • Scissors
  • Needlepoint or cross-stitch needle
  • Fabric
  • Embroidery hoop

A useful all-purpose stitch, the backstitch enables you to create outlines and lettering for embroidery, needlepoint and cross-stitch projects. After you finish this stitch, it looks like a simple line of stitches -- the thickness depends upon the weight of thread or floss you use. Right-handed stitchers work the backstitch from right to left and left-handed stitchers work from left to right. Stitch evenly to make neat backstitches.

Cut an 18-inch length of embroidery floss or thread. Depending on the thickness you desire for the back stitches, use only one strand for a delicate stitch or up to three strands for a thick stitch. Thread the needle and tie a tiny knot at the end of the floss.

Place the fabric into the embroidery hoop, centering the fabric in the hoop so the point where you wish to stitch the backstitch is in the center area of the hoop. Tighten the screw on the hoop to make the fabric taut.

Insert the needle down into the fabric approximately 1 inch to the right of the point you wish to begin the backstitching (along the direction you intend to stitch). Pull the needle through until the knot sits on top of the fabric. Insert the needle up to the top of the fabric 1 inch to the left of the knot.

Insert the needle back down into the fabric 1/4 inch to the right of the thread and push the needle back up again 1/4 inch to the left of the thread (1/2 inch total distance but only 1/4 inch stitch length). Pull the needle through to complete the first backstitch.

Take another stitch by inserting the needle 1/4 inch to the right of the thread and pushing the needle back up 1/4 inch to the left of the thread. Pull the needle through to make the floss taut.

Continue working to the right towards the knot, taking identical backstitches until you reach the knot. When your stitches reach the knot, pull the knot up from the fabric and clip it off. The stitches will stay anchored even without the knot.

Continue backstitching until you finish the line of stitching you desire. Turn your work over and insert the needle through about four stitches from the backside of the stitching. Clip the floss off flush with the fabric.


  • Work the backstitch in the opposite direction if you are left-handed.