What should Cross Stitch look like on the Back?

Good news! It is nice if the back of your cross stitch looks tidy, but you don’t need to lose sleep if it’s a bit unruly. Let’s put your mind at ease on the topic!

The backside of a cross stitch project—often overlooked but always a subject of intrigue. Is it the unsung hero of your craft, or just a behind-the-scenes player?

Mr X Stitch - Back In Black
Mr X Stitch – Back In Black from Issue 20: Mystery

You’ll find the cross-stitch community divided on this.

One camp insists on a backside as immaculate as the front, arguing that perfection should be a 360-degree affair.

Conversely, there’s the free-spirit faction. To them, the backside is a canvas for creative chaos—a playground for colorful threads and artistic liberties.

But here’s the golden thread of truth: both perspectives have their merits.

A neat backside is a boon if you’re framing your masterpiece or showcasing it in a gallery. Yet, it’s not set in stone.

It is lovely if your work is neat, and it’s something nice to aim for, but when you are beginning out a cross stitcher, you shouldn’t let be an issue.

POMPOM Design - Silk Road
POMPOM Design – Silk Road from Issue 9: Orient

What’s non-negotiable is ensuring the back is secure, devoid of any loose threads that could unravel your hard work.

Your threads need to hold in place, and using a technique like the Loop Technique will secure them when you start, so being mindful of how you secure them when you finish is the other part of the equation.

By running your needle under a few stitches on the rear of the fabric and then pulling the thread through, you will be able to keep that end secured as well.

This video on the Loop Technique explains all this in a most helpful way, and with some groovy music!

Let’s not forget, the essence of cross-stitching isn’t just in the final tapestry but in every stitch along the way.

Why is the back of my cross stitch untidy?

It’s completely natural to encounter a few hiccups along your cross-stitching journey—consider them stepping stones to mastery.

One such challenge you might face is the appearance of surprise knots. These little twists in the thread can accumulate as you stitch, but here’s the silver lining: the more you stitch, the better you become at sensing the tension in the thread.

When you feel the thread beginning to twist, simply drop the needle, and watch as the thread relaxes itself. Problem solved!

Moving between two patches of colour

Another scenario you might come across involves making large jumps between areas of the same color. While it might seem quicker to stretch the thread across the back, there’s a nifty trick to keep things neat.

(You can see this in action above, as the dark green thread is running between two separate areas.)

Simply weave your needle through some of the existing stitches on the backside of the fabric. This keeps the thread secure and prevents it from getting tangled in new stitches. It’s like having your cake and eating it too!

But when stitching standalone elements, like these pink love hearts, taking the time to cut off and secure the thread will help the overall sense of control.

Moving between two patches of colour

Whether you’re a stickler for neatness or a champion of creative freedom, your project should be a mirror to your soul and a source of joy. It’s nice if things are neat on the back of your cross stitch, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who was struck down by lightning for having an unruly rear.

So go ahead, stitch with gusto! Let your cross-stitch project be a testament to your creativity and the sheer delight you find in this timeless craft.

The Witchy Stitcher - The Greatest Love Of All
The Witchy Stitcher – The Greatest Love Of All from Issue 7: Love

If you want some great designs to practice your stitching on, our Greatest Hits issue is a must-have! Ten designs for an amazing price – find out more here!

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