Embroidery / Projects and Tutorials

How to Embroider the Backstitch

backstitch embroidery example olive branch
For tips on how to begin and end your stitching and other embroidery basics take a look at Hand Embroidery Basics.

The backstitch is a simple stitch for embroidering lines, and with just a little practice you’ll master a stitch that will take you far. Overall, we move along the line from right to left. Each stitch, however, starts by moving backwards along the line, giving the backstitch its name.

How to Embroider the Backstitch

how to backstitch 1
Bring the needle up through the fabric one stitch away from the end of the line to be embroidered. Put the needle down through the fabric at the end of the line, and bring it up one stitch length beyond where you first came up.

To make the next stitch, put the needle down through the fabric where the previous stitch ends, and bring it up again a stitch length beyond the spot where the thread emerges from the fabric.

how to backstitch 2
Continue along the line, putting the needle down through the fabric where the previous stitch ends and coming up a stitch length beyond the spot where the thread emerges from the fabric.

For the best effect, try to keep the stitches the same length.

dove embroidery kitI’ll be leading an embroidery workshop featuring the backstitch and this little dove on Sunday, December 3, 2017 at Beetle and Fred in Beacon, New York. If you’re in the area, join us! Or visit the Sew Jewish Shop online to order your own Little Dove Embroidery Kit.

Maria BywaterMaria Bywater is the author of Sew Jewish: The 18 Projects You Need for Jewish Holidays, Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Celebrations, and Home. She teaches hands-on Judaica sewing workshops.


2 thoughts on “How to Embroider the Backstitch

  1. Maria

    I enjoy reading your blog/website. I’m hoping you can help me with this challenge. Both my so and I are allergic to wool. I would like to make him a tallit, so for the fabric I am planning to use “raw” silk. But, tying and then using the tzitzit is a problem. Are you aware of anything to use as hypoallergenic tzitzit for us?

    Today Rabbah for your being there and any ideas you may have.
    Hag Samauch


    • Hi Sharon, I have a couple of thoughts, but I would definitely check with your rabbi or other community halakhic leader in deciding how to handle this, both because of the halakhic implications and because I suspect this issue comes up enough that the rabbinic community has an answer. There is an opinion in the Shulhan Aruch that the tzitzit strings should be of the same fiber type as the tallit, and in fact, it gives the example of silk tzitzit strings for a silk tallit. But I’ve not been able to find commercial silk tzitzit strings. There are a small number of providers of linen tzitzit strings, but again, because wool strings are the overwhelming choice for halakhic reasons, and people generally avoid linen because of halakhic reasons, you definitely want to check with a rabbi or halakhic authority before choosing this option. I realize that I’m not able to give you a definitive answer on this, but hopefully the info gives you a bit of background in making your choice. If anyone out there has dealt with this issue, I’d love to hear how you handled it.


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