Sunday, 13 November 2016

Sunday Stitch School - Lesson 2: Back Stitch

Today's lesson is on Back Stitch. It is not new to me, but as it is one of the most fundamental embroidery stitches and was not included in TAST, I want to put some focus on it here.

Back Stitch is a basic and simple stitch, and easy when worked on Aida
or evenweave linen where the holes are clearly visibly.

On plain weave fabric, however, my Back Stitches tend to look uneven.
Sloppy, or what? Well, I have exaggerated, but what can I do to improve?

I sought the advice of decorated and award winning hand quilter Jacquie Harvey BEM, who is famous for including neat Back Stitches to her quilts.


This is what she had to say:
The secret of getting a good, regular stitch is making sure your needle is always at a 90 degree angle as it goes in and out and that when it goes in, it should go back into the hole of the previously worked stitch.  Going in at 90 degrees is no problem but coming out is slightly more difficult.  This is when I manipulate the piece of work downwards, with my left hand, to ensure the degree is correct - working backstitch on fabric within a frame isn’t easy unless you are working on a large thread count and can see the holes.  If you do it this way, your needle will split the thread behind so that it looks the same back and front.  As with everything, practice makes perfect and to get a good regular stitch, your eye has to get the gap correct between the last stitch and where the needle comes up again,  each time.  This needs concentration and I think this is where a lot of people go wrong, by assuming backstitch is just a simple stitch. 
I highlighted the points I need to check.

Jacquie also revealed that she switched to Back Stitch quilting when she began to suffer from arthritis and found that a longer stitch at the back helped her sew smaller stitches on top. 

On her website, Jacquie has a video where you can see how to quilt with Back Stitch. Don't miss it!

Thank you for your advice and help, Jacquie.


For embroidery, the most important point must be to concentrate on the correct gap between the stitches. Look where you put the needle!






The Back Stitch is used with other stitches to form a number of variations. I will look at those in future lessons.

Other names for Back Stitch are 'Stitching' or 'Point de Sable' and in Swedish it is called 'Efterstygn'.
What is it called in your language?
Updated information:
Dutch: Stiksteek

Homework:
To practise even stitches.
One way will be to pierce a piece of fabric with unthreaded machine stitches and use those even holes as a guide.




22 comments:

  1. I find back stitching hard, especially on linen, I need to practice trying to make the stitches all the same length. I think your stitching is always beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I have now tried to get my stitches more even, but need more practice.

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  2. I use back stitch a lot when doing red work type designs but my stitches I have to own up are not all the same size! Jacquie has given some excellent help here, not thought of using back stitch for quilting will have a go at that too but think the back of my quilt might look rather messy

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reminding me about Red Work!
      Back Stitch quilting leaves a structured back, and if you use a fabric with a busy print for the back it won't show much but you can FEEL the stitches. This way of quilting secures the layers and wadding well.

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  3. I too wanted to explore the possibilities of back stitch. Very good tips . Thanks for sharing. will join this challenge soon.
    Chitra

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    Replies
    1. Back Stitch is an excellent stitch for outlining a design, and as Margaret said (see comment above) it is used for Red Work. There are many more possibilities.

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  4. I use back stitch a lot but it is quite messy sometimes so I'll go and look at the video now to see if I can improve.

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    Replies
    1. Like Anundsjö Stitch, Back Stitch CAN be sewn with uneven stitches on purpose for a rough and wild look. ANYTHING is possible and welcome in embroidery!

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  5. I like back stitch since it's easy to do. But keeping an uniform stitch length sometimes makes the design uneven. Thanks for the video link.

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    Replies
    1. I wish I found Back Stitch easy to do, I feel I need to concentrate a lot for good stitches, and I need to practise much more.

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  6. Back stitch is one of those stitches that you can develop a rhythm with you stitching. I find this also helps to keep those stitches even.

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    Replies
    1. You are so right, of course. You need a rhythm and have to sit for a while. My way of taking a few stitches here and there between chores might be the real reason for my unevenness! Thank you for your insight!

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  7. Backstitch is always nice for lines, I've used it a lot for redwork. In Dutch it's called stiksteek. I still have an example of quilting with backstitch to share, I only need to find the time to write a blog about it.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the Dutch name, I will update the blog post. I am looking forward to your post about Back Stitch quilting. It must be as beautiful and impeccable as your embroidery.

      Delete
  8. Interesting blog Queenie and great video on the Backstitch. I haven't used that stitch for ages but today I can try it on a current project and see how neatly I can do it. I'm still working on the Anundsjö

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    Replies
    1. I am happy if I have reminded you of a basic stitch to use again, but do take it easy and rest your eyes in between. Looking forward to your Anundsjö stitches.

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  9. Carin, thank you for this fantastic hint with the machine. But may I tell you that I am a fan of incorrect lines and "sloppy" stitching, is it a shame? No, I believe not. The goddess of stitches may forgive me, ha! Nevertheless I will try your trick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Incorrect lines and 'sloppy' stitching = charming, creative and interesting embroidery. But I want to do perfect stitches, too!
      Give the machine trick a try!

      Delete
  10. Back stitching is my goto stitch for almost everything. For once I can relate.

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    Replies
    1. Good to hear. You are now my Embroidery Sister!

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  11. Your backstitch looks beautiful to me. I have trouble seeing the gap when I do my embroidery cards. I'm not very proud of my results and your lesson inspires me to do better!

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    Replies
    1. Your cards are alive because of the charming handwork! If I made postcards like yours I'd go for a non-perfect look, but sometimes I want to have neat script.

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