Sewing – The Back Stitch

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 172,963
    Sewing expert Dawn Anderson demonstrates how to sew the back stitch.

    Dawn Anderson

    Dawn began sewing when she was 5 years old and it has since become a lifelong pursuit. Dawn earned a B.A. from Shenandoah University and an M.F.A. from Indiana University, both in Theatre Costume Design. During graduate school she had the opportunity to study in England at Bournemouth University where she focused on corsetry techniques, traditional hand tailoring, and fashion history. During college she worked as a costume designer and patternmaker for theatre and dance, making custom clothing for performers, specialty garments, historic reproductions, corsetry, millinery, and taught basic to advanced sewing classes. After college, she went to work as a free-lance designer and cutter in Edinburgh, Scotland. She returned to the US and began her small ready to wear line and sewing pattern company in Washington DC and Northern Virginia. She currently sells sewing patterns for clothing and hats on her website and at tradeshows. She hand makes men's custom jackets and is expanding her women's ready to wear lines. Dawn currently teaches couture sewing and hat making at sewing conventions, local stores, and in her home in Northern Virginia. She is a member of the American Sewing Guild and leads her own group dedicated to Couture Sewing. Dawn has begun writing for sewing magazines and is working on a book on tailoring. She has also started filming sewing instruction videos and hopes to one day have her own TV show on sewing. Please feel free to visit her website for more information.

    Hi, Im Dawn Anderson and I'm showing you how to sew by hand. Right now we're working on the backstitch. So, the backstitch is a variation on the running stitch. Now as you can see, it has some small stitches on the top side, with overlapping stitches on the reverse side. The backstitch is a very strong, very flexible stitch.

    To begin, cut approximately 18 inches of thread, thread your needle on one end, and put a small knot in the opposite end. To start sewing the backstitch begin from the underside of your fabric, come up through all the layers. As the name implies, your first stitch will be backwards. You're going to stitch to the right. Your needle will then travel underneath and come out ahead of where the thread is coming up by the fabric. Go ahead and pull that through, and that's your first backstitch.

    To take the second stitch, again, you're going to move in the backwards direction. Your needle will travel further underneath and then pull your thread through. Your third stitch, go ahead, the same as before, pull your thread through, and pull your thread till it's nice and taunt, but not too tight, you don't want to pucker the surface of your fabric. I like to use the backstitch for hand sewing in zippers, as well as easing in sleeves, and it's also a variation on the Italian eased stitching used in traditional hand tailoring. So, as you can see I have smaller stitches sewn on the top side, and if I flip it over there is overlapping stitches on the reverse side. This is what makes it very strong and flexible, as the additional stitching on the back.

    Continue working on sewing your stitch sequence until you've reached the end of your seam, and then to knot off, go ahead and take one more stitch to the back. Keep your needle on the reverse side, flip it over, tie your knot, hold your thumb down, and your knot will be right there on the fabric surface. Cut your thread, and that is how you sew the backstitch. Now, let's move on to sewing the whipstitch.