Back stitch is often used along side cross stitch to define a clean neat line in a design. It is classified as a linear stitch because you can create lines with it! Back stitch is an old adaptable stitch which can be used as a delicate outline or as a foundation in composite stitches, such as Pekinese stitch. It is also a great stitch to whip or thread with a heavier yarn. You can add beads to it too!
If you want to work blackwork patterns using hand dyed or variegated threads use back stitch. Many blackwork patterns can be very effective worked this way and the changing colours add a contemporary touch to a traditional style of hand embroidery.
This is a stitch that is considered a basic stitch as it is always introduced to beginners, but I feel people underestimate its versatility which ensures its timeless appeal to generations of stitchers. For instance in this sample (click to see a larger version) I have used back stitch to define the lines of the sand. Set against the highly textured embroidery the simple ‘basic’ stitch creates the contrast I wanted.
If needed, mark your line with a quilters pencil or soluble pen or pencil. Bring the thread up from the back of the fabric on the line that you want to create. Make a small backward stitch through the fabric.
Bring the needle through the fabric a little in front of the first stitch and still on the line. Pull the thread through the fabric.
Make the second stitch backward,inserting the needle down into the hole made by the first stitch and bringing the needle out a little in front of the second stitch but still on the line. Repeat this movement and continue sewing in such a manner along the line.
Back stitch is also known as point de sable.
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My book for creative stitchers
If you enjoy my site you will get real value from my book Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery: Visual Guide to 120 Essential Stitches for Stunning Designs
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned embroiderer, Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery gives you techniques to encourage and develop a fresh and creative embroidery style. Discover play points in your embroidery. Explore variations in height and width, stacking stitches, or using repetitions of the same stitch to create areas of texture and shape. All these techniques and more will give you creative variations. I have included numerous demonstrations of small tweaks that create big effects. To send you down your own creative path, the book is richly illustrated with plenty of eye candy.