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{Tutorial} Ready, set, sew :: Backstitch and Running stitch revision

April 5, 2013 | Comment ( 11 Comments )
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Getting excited about The Girls Own Stitching club? Just reminding you that yes it's a club, and yes it's free to "join." You don't need to do anything to "join" but come to the blog to  get your free tutorial and stitchery, participate in the discussion and if you already know the stitch share your wisdom with the rest of us. There'll be a flickr group for you to show us your progress too and get some encouragement. You'll learn new stitches and have a sampler pattern to practice your newly learnt stitch. At the end of the year, you'll have enough samplers to put together to make a quilt. If you don't want to make a quilt, that's fine too….the samplers would look lovely framed or made into a cushion or used on a bag. It's up to you. There will be one a month, so there will be plently of time to stitch your sampler before the next one.


So, last year in the tutorials we covered satin stitch, granitos stitch, lazy daisy and colonial knots. There are 2 embroidery stitches which every sewer needs to know and they are usually the first 2 stitches you learn when first starting. They are running stitch and backstitch, you'll need to know how to do these stitches for the Girls own. If you're a beginner, this tutorial with give you an overview so you can participate in the club.


Running stitch is probably the first stitch you were taught, it's the one that maybe your Grannie or Mother taught you, perhaps you learnt it at school. It's simply a broken line stitch. It's very easy. But in case you are very new to stitching, I'll show you quickly how to do a running stitch or straight stitch, as it may sometimes be called.

Step 1: To get started you'll more than likely need two strands of thread. This simply means that when you get your shank of thread, it will be made up of six strands wound together. You simply need to cut the length of thread you require, and then separate 2 strands from the 6. Once you've got your needle threaded, tie a knot in one end. This is not my preferred method of securing the thread, but since we're talking about beginning stitching, it will be fine for today.

Take your needle and thread from the back and push it through your fabric, to the front (at point A).


Step 2: Pull your thread all the way through.

Step 3: Push your needle back down into the fabric (at point B), about 1cm from point A.

You don't want to do large stitches, these are too messy and they don't look very neat. I know that you will get your stitching done quicker, but the end result won't be as nice. You want small, neat stitches.


Step 4: Pull your thread all the way through to the back. This is one stitch.


Step 5: Bring your thread from the back to the front, leaving a small gap (point C). Pull you thread all the way through to the front.

Step 6: Push your needle and thread down the fabric through to the back (point D), about the size of 1 cm or smaller apart. Make sure it's the same size as your first stitch. pull it through to the back. This is your second stitch.

Step 7: Bring it back through to the front, slightly apart from the second stich (point E), and pull through. Again, about 1cm apart, push your needle through to the back and pull tight.

Step 8: Continue the above steps until you have a row of stitches.

You've now learnt how to sew a running stitch. Running stitch had lots of great uses. It's quick and very easy. It makes a great border on a sewing design, and when sewing by hand you use it to attach two pieces of fabric together.

See the running stitch around the border on the sampler below?

Stitchery-pattern-by-red-brollyStitchery from "Sunshine in your pocket."

When you ge really good, you can sew a few stitches at a time. Here's what I mean…

See above I'm "picking" up a few stitches at a time. Rather than pushing through, pulling, pushing through, pulling- I push the needle through in an "up down" motion, doing a few stitches. I then, pull the thread all the way through. This is a much quicker way to do running stitch. In the above photo, I'm picking up, or sewing the stitches, and in the photo below I'm pulling the thread through all in one go.

Note: It's much easier to sew running stitch this way when not using an embroidery hoop, but I was a little lazy for the photos.

Onto the next beginners stitch which you will need to know and you will use A LOT in your embroidery.


Backstitch is another easy, easy stitch to sew. You use it in just about every embroidery pattern. You use it when you want to sew an unbroken line. It's great for outlines, sewing stems on flowers, letters and borders.


Step 1: When starting backstitch, you start by stitching one stitch backwards first, before going forwards…does that make sense? So, when starting, you start slightly in from the end of the line, so you have room to stitch a stitch backwards. Start the same as running stitch by bringing your thread through to the front at point A.

Step 2: Push your thread through from front to back, at point B. This is the opposite direction you want to go. Make a small stitch. Pull the thread all the way through to the back. This is one stitch.

Step 3: Bring the thread up through the fabric (point C), from back to front, slightly in front of your starting point (point A). Pull thread through to the front.

Step 4: Push your needle back through the point where you first started your stitch-point A. Try and use the same hole, this will ensure a straight stitch. Push all the way through to the back of the fabric. You've now done 2 stitches.


Step 5: Push the needle and thread through at point C, to the back. Pull the thread taut. You've now done 2 stitches.

Step 6: Bring your thread through to the front slightly in front of the last stitch (point D). Stitch backwards, pushing the needle from front to back at point C. You've now completed 3 stitches. Repeat until you've finished.

Step 7: When you get more experienced, you can do a stitch in one go,
rather than pushing the needle and thread through and pulling it in
several steps. In step 7, you can see that I've brought the thread through to the front and then at the end of the first stitch, I've put the needle through and under, coming out where I want the next stitch to start. Don't worry you'll get there!


 As mentioned earlier, backstitch is great for wording, outlines and giving definition.


If you're a more experienced stitcher, please feel free to contribute and leave your tips for sewing these stitches…things you wish someone had told you at the beginning. It's how we keep our craft going, it's a part of our history.



April 5, 2013 | Comment ( 11 Comments )
| This page as PDF

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      • Says bri68

        Thanks for the very clear lesson of embroidery….
        i ‘d like to join the stitching club ….do we have to write to you to be part of it?
        I look forward stitching your project
        Hi from France

      • Says Bronwyn...

        No, al you need to do to be part of the club is to come to the blog, follow the tutorial for the new stitch and download your free pattern. There will be one tutorial and pattern a month. Stitch up your pattern using your newly learned stitch and, if you feel like it, share it on my facebook page or flickr group.
        Easy hey?

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