First back stitch explorations extended

Today’s post is focused on finishing work with the back stitch. Due to rain in the valley, I had to pull some old pictures and move up this post without all of the examples I’d planned. Therefore, there is more talk than illustration.

As I mentioned in an earlier post use the back stitch for finishing a lot of small items. I know these days that perhaps most people would prefer to use a machine but I enjoy the thought that the whole item is stitched by hand. And I can do the back stitching involved in those spare moments that require very little attention to the needlework for the most part. I consider it a good project for my travel bag since it’s easily stopped and started.

The back stitch is a sturdy stitch and it can carry stress. This pincushion is definitely over stuffed.


Here is the seam.


The back stitching is done with a firm pull not distorting the fabric and allowing for no more play than for the needle to slip through the back stitch on the front. The stitching is done on both pieces, exactly on the seam line. And this is counted work. The stitch count on both the front and back should match. If they don’t a compensation stitch must be discretely taken.

I use a Perle cotton for the back stitching and the whipping. And for the whipping I try to make the thread long enough to go around the whole piece. Fortunately, Perle cotton can generally stand up to this treatment. Naturally, on some larger items breaks must be made.

To determine the size of the Perle cotton I generally go by the size closest to the average size thread of the fabric. If something seems questionable I have this other formula. If it’s for a seam under no stress or a finishing fold line, I round down. If it’s for a seam under pressure, I round up. However, please keep in mind, I’m not an expert in this area. I’ve never tried a Perle 5. I’m always trying to decide between a Perle 12 and 8.

Another reason the back stitch has become a favorite is because I can put it on the front side of the work. With the back stitch there is no putting right side to right side, stitching, leaving a small gap for adding stuffing and turning everything right side out again. While I have to whip stitch the gap together if stuffing was added, that spot becomes all but invisible because it does not vary from the rest of the work.


In this photo I’ve got the back stitching done, the seam allowance folded and the back stitches aligned. The wrong sides are together. On the left you can see how nicely the back stitch is showing up. You will begin whip stitching taking the needle through both back stitches as pictured. This should be a firm whip stitch however nothing so tight as to distort the fabric.

Here is the finish with the seam allowance folded back on each side. I don’t always iron these seams either before or after I stitch. Often hand pressing will be sufficient.



4 Responses to First back stitch explorations extended

  1. Marty52 says:

    I love this way of doing a seam! So cool. I, too, prefer to hand stitch smaller seams… it’s just too easy to do it by hand rather than mess with the machine. I also think you can get a better product for small items, the machine just can’t do what the fingers can. Thanks for this!

  2. jowynn says:

    Your pin cushion is in the color scheme for TIF. Very nice work! And I love the colors you used in the latest experiments with fly stitch.

  3. Karen B says:

    I’ve learned something new! I have only known a type of slip stitch to finish closing the gap of a stuffed item; but my stitching is not as invisible as it ought to be. Thank you.

  4. Kay Susan says:

    Thank you for this seam treatment. I usually make mine decorative, stitching buttonhole along each piece, then buttonoling or lacing the pieces together, but sometimes I would have like the seam to be invisible – I will try this!

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