Forget About That Back!


I should start this blog post by saying this is all just my opinion and not a tutorial in any way.

Every once in a while I will be on Facebook in one of the many cross stitching groups and I will see a comment from one stitcher to another stating something along the lines of "the back should be as neat as the front." This. Makes. Me. Cringe. First of all, WHY? Once mounted, nobody ever sees the back of a finished cross stitch piece. Secondly (and most important) it can be so discouraging for a new cross stitcher to hear. I love this hobby so any discouragement to someone trying it, is so sad to see. There are no rules in cross stitch so nobody should ever feel like they are doing it wrong.

I've always viewed the back of my cross stitch project like a body's organs. I mean, as long as everything is working the way it is supposed to...who cares what they look like?! Now don't get me wrong, the back of my projects are messy but only to a point.

There are two main things a stitcher can do that will make the back of their cross stitch pieces messier. One is knots the other is travelling across the fabric with the thread. I use the loop method when starting with a new thread, and pull the thread under stitches to end it. This avoids knots. I avoid knots at all cost not because they make the back look messy but because they can leave bulges which are visible on a mounted piece.

I have heard the rule of thumb "don't travel more than six stitches with your thread". This is a general rule I completely ignore as you can see from this example of the back of one of my completed projects:

But if you look at the front, you cannot tell I travel my threads (so I say, travel away!):

Here is another example of the back and front of one of my finished pieces:


As you can see, just simply by avoiding knots you can keep a decent looking back. 

If making the back of your cross stitch pieces as neat as the front of your projects is enjoyable for you, then you do you and continue with your stitching. It is amazing to me to see the talent of some stitchers who are able to do this. In the end though, just make sure you are having fun stitching.

Do you worry about the back of your cross stitch pieces? I'd love to know. Feel free to leave a comment!



  • Kathryn

    I try to keep my backs reasonably neat.,to a certain point. I don’t stress over it. I don’t carry my threads very far. Three reasons come to mind. I don’t want carried thread to show through the front,I don’t want to waste long lengths of thread and I wouldn’t want something to catch on a carried thread and pull the stitching and cause distortion on the front. As with you,my primary concern is the front. Happy stitching to all!

  • Dagmar Neves

    Thanks for showing how you travel on the back.
    I do the same, in spite of being told my back should be as neat as the front. I feel better now.

  • carol

    I have been stitching since the 1980’s and my backs are not perfect, I think its the front that counts. I’ve seen some of those post on facebook groups that tell you your back should look like the front. You do you and if it’s not perfect, oh well.

  • carol

    No, I don’t worry about the back, I think it’s the front that counts. Some of my backs are neater than others, that’s ok too. Nothing is more discouraging than someone telling you you have to sew this or that way. So, for those beginners, keep on stitching no matter what someone says.

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