Backstitching Basics

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by in Sewing Tips

What is Backstitching?

Backstitching is simply a techinique using the reverse sewing direction of your machine to ensure that the start and end of a seam do not come undone. It also strengthens the seam. That is about as simple as it can get.

When Do You Backstich?

Backstitching is a must anytime a seam will not have another seam intersecting it at a later time. When quilting, I will often backstitch when sewing on the final two borders. This will hold the final seam secure until the quilt is quilted. When sewing, it is proper to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam, however this can get a bit thick.

How To Backstitch

Actually backstitching on a sewing machine is very simple. Just begin sewing your seam as you normally do, after a half inch or so, don’t fret – the sewing police won’t ticket you if it is more or less, press the reverse button and stitch backwards over the previous stitch, release the button when you reach the beginning and continue with the seam. Then, at the end of the seam all that is needed is to repeat the process to secure the end of the seam.

Backstitching Tips

When sewing forward, back and then forward again the seam can be quite bulky especially on thin fabrics. To eliminate the bulk of three rows of stitching, try shortening the stitch length to 1mm or 18-20 stitches per inch for the first half inch or so of the seam. After the first half inch return to the desired stitch length and continue down the seam. Repeat with the shorter stitches at the end of the seam. The shorter stitches will be slightly more secure with the advantage of a single stitch to reduce the bulk.

If you are in the habit of backstitching at the beginning and end of every seam, try starting about a half of an inch in from the edge of your fabric. Immediately engage the reverse button and sew backwards towards the edge of the fabric. Then sew forward. This gives only TWO rows of stitches to remove in the unlikely event of a mistake, but will secure the seam properly.