Bustle & Sew Stitch Directory: Back Stitch

Bustle & Sew Stitch Directory

One of the joys of freestyle embroidery is that you don’t need to learn lots of complicated and difficult techniques to produce a beautiful piece of work. Indeed, you can probably get by with only 2 or 3 stitches if you want – though I guarantee once you’ve been bitten by the stitching bug you’ll want to carry on and learn more! So I’ve put together a Stitch Directory to help you master 16 of the most commonly used stitches. This week we’re looking at back stitch…

Back stitch is an outline stitch and is the best stitch to choose for making long straight lines, but can also be used for curves, though it’s not as smooth as stem stitch when curving.


Back stitch is worked from right to left. Bring your needle out a short distance from the beginning of the line you want to stitch (see the arrow in the diagram above). Then insert it back through the fabric at the beginning of your line – effectively taking a step “back” – and bring it forward again an equal distance forward from where you first started. You are actually taking along stitch forward beneath your fabric, then a short backward stitch on the right side – joining with the previous stitch.


Threaded back stitch is a very pretty variation – you could use three different floss colours to achieve the effect above. First work a line of ordinary back stitch, then thread it up and down alternately as shown by needle A. Needle B shows the second threading process, worked in exactly the same way as before, except that this time you’re filling in the gaps you left before. This is a very useful stitch to outline floral or leaf shapes, or to use as a border.

I hope you’ve found this post useful, do pop back next week when we’ll be looking at Blanket Stitch!


Thank you for those very clear directions and illustrations. I am left handed, so I will turn your diagrams upside-down and they will work perfectly for me to stitch from left to right. Thanks for being so clear!!

Julie Caisey

I love Freestyle embroidery. I was bitten by the bug many, many years ago, and the very first stitch I learnt was a french knot when I was a bout five by my grandmother

Julie xxxxxx


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