Welcome to our Stitch Library series of free embroidery workshops for the complete beginner! In this how to guide we’ll talk you through how to sew backstitch. Backstitch is a great outlining stitch and it’s widely used both in embroidery art and in cross stitch projects to add definition and depth to designs, or to personalise projects with greetings as it’s well suited to stitching words and letters.
Practise your new skills with this fun bicycle hoop art or use this method to sew backstitch on a current embroidery project that you’re working on.
How to backstitch step-by-step
Download our free PDF bicycle pattern to try out your new skills and make your own hoop art.
Embroidery pattern design by Louise Day. Stitching and instructions by Zoe Patching.
To start, thread your needle with two strands of embroidery thread. Thread the strands onto a sharp embroidery needle (a size 9 is ideal) and knot the opposite end of the thread. Bring the needle up through the fabric to the front, at your starting point, with the knot at the back.
Make your first stitch by inserting the needle into the fabric, about 3 or 4mm away from your starting point. Make sure you follow your design line. Pull your thread through the fabric so the stitch sits on the fabric’s surface, but make sure you don’t pull so tight that you distort it.
To make your next stitch, bring your needle back up through the fabric to the front, again about 3 or 4mm from the end of your first stitch (keep this distance consistent so that each stitch is even in length). Make sure you’re still following your design line. Pull your thread all the way through the fabric.
To finish this stitch, insert your needle into the fabric at the same point as the end of your first stitch (pic A).
Repeat steps 3 and 4 to create a line of stitches. To finish off, turn the fabric over and pass needle under the reverse of the stitches until the thread is secure.
Pull the thread through (pic B).
Stitch a cycling tribute to a sporty person in your life…
We all know someone who is into cycling: Mamils (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) are everywhere! With this in mind, and knowing that you might want to make a gift for the sporty guys and gals in your life, we thought we’d offer a classic embroidered bike template for you to handstitch onto soft furnishing or clothing as you see fit. Follow Zoë Patching’s instructions above for backstitch – it’s a perfect stitch to use
for outlines and you can download our Free bicycle embroidery pattern here.