The Humble Backstitch

The humble backstitch is one of the most versatile stitches in the embroiderers stitch arsenal as it can be used as an outline stitch on plain or evenweave fabrics or as a foundation for other embroidery stitches, such as Pekinese Stitch. It is also used in cross stitch, blackwork and Assisi work.

Worked on its own using straight even stitches backstitch resembles a machine like stitch. However there are other things you can do with backstitch to make it a decorative stitch in its own right! These include whipped, threaded and double threaded backstitch.

Ok here is how to do the good old plain version! First bring the needle up at 1, down at 2 and up at 3. It is important that the stitches should be the same length. To start the next stitch insert the needle at 1 again. Repeat along your line keeping the stitches as even as possible.

Whipped Backstitch
First work a line of backstitch as show above and then using a contrasting colour start at the beginning of your backstitch line by bringing your needle up at 1, this is half way along your first backstitch. Pass your needle under each stitch, top to bottom without going through the fabric until you reach the end of your line and then finish at the top halfway along the last backstitch.

Threaded Backstitch
First work a row of backstitch again. Then using a contrasting colour bring your needle out at 1 and thread the needle through the second stitch along. Work each stitch alternatively up and down but not going through the fabric.

Double Threaded Backstitch
For double threaded backstitch work exactly in the same way as above. Using a contrasting colour bring the needle up at 1 and thread through the second stitch and carry on all along the row of backstitches filling in the vacant spaces with loops. Keep the thread quite relaxed and don't pull too tightly.


  1. oh, this is very timely, the whipped backstitch will work perfectly for a current project. Thanks for the reminder of how a humble stitch can look fab.

  2. This is so pretty! I want to try it right now! :)

  3. Thank you for the details and photos!


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