How to Backstitch on Sewing Machine (With or Without Reverse)

One thing about backstitching is that you don't have to do it constantly nor do you need to do it to win a race. It is just another sewing technique to make sure your clothing items are kept in stitches. It is a handy technique to master as well.

How to backstitch on sewing machine: The technique of backstitching may vary from brand to brand and model to model. For the Brother models, some need you to sew 4 to 5 stitches first then go back while the Singer models only require 2 or 3 forward stitches before you reverse directions.

To learn more about backstitching and how to do it on different models of sewing machines, just continue to read our article. It has the information you will want to know about. Take a few minutes to get caught up on this topic.

Why do You Backstitch?

The ends of the seams are the two places that get a lot of stress. They are pulled constantly depending on the type of movement you make. When that happens the stitches can come out on you if you have not secured them in some fashion.

Sometimes a simple knot won’t do and the thread breaks, the stitches come undone, and so on. The reason you backstitch is to reinforce the original stitches and make sure they are strong enough to handle all sorts of different activities.

Then, another reason to backstitch is to prevent the seams from being stretched out of shape. When that happens you have to either do some sewing repair work, replace the fabric, or simply buy new clothing items.

The backstitch or even a lock stitch will make sure the seams stay in their original shape as long as possible. Nothing is a permanent fix but backstitching helps maintain the integrity of the seam and have those seams last along time.

It only takes a moment or two to do this technique so it should not be left out even when you are under the gun and have very little time to complete the task.

When Should I Backstitch My Sewing Machine?


The word when here is not referring to a specific frame of time. You are not going to put a clock on your seeing time and when the minute hand reaches the 6 you start backstitching.

The term when is referring to at what stage of the sewing process do you backstitch. The stages you begin doing this technique is just after you have sewn forward a few stitches at the beginning of your sewing the seam and for a few stitches after you have finished sewing the seam.

In other words, you backstitch at both ends of the seam to make sure your first stitches are locked into place and your seam is reinforced so it won’t stretch out of shape. Then you only do this step where backstitching is really needed.

It is possible, and okay, to throw a backstitch or two in the middle of the seam if you think that area needs the reinforcing. It has been done before by experienced sewers and as you gain experience, you will see those areas quite clearly.

Experience will be your guide and do not feel frustrated if you have to do the backstitch more than once. Learn from your mistakes in order to get a great seam.

How do You Backstitch?

When you are sewing seams by machine, this is one of the easier stitch techniques to do. All you have to do is stop the machine somewhere around 3 or 4 stitches, hit the reverse, and go back 3 to 4 stitches.

Each machine is different in how you hold the reverse lever or button. Plus, each machine requires a different amount of forward stitches to be sewn before you go in reverse. The machine does the work for you and all you do is hold the button or make sure the lever stays in the reverse position.

Backstitching by hand is just as easy except you have to do all the work. Once you have marked your seam you go forward on stitch then go back one stitch. You do this process until you have sewn 3 to 4 stitches then you continue going forward until you reach the end of the seam.

At that point, you repeat the process by going forward a stitch and then back a stitch and so on. You will want to use smaller stitch lengths when you backstitch by hand as the smaller stitch has a better and stronger hold on the fabric than a long stitch length does.

How to Backstitch On a Sewing Machine


The process is simple when you use a machine. Of course, each brand may have several different methods for reverse stitching they use on different models. That means that the information given here is focused more on one type of sewing machine and not them all.

One sewing machine brand has you pushing and holding the reverse button all the time you are reversing the stitch direction. This ties up a hand but it is only for 4 to 5 stitches and then you release the button and move forward again.

Another brand has you pushing the U-shaped symbol that has an arrowhead on it, then you only go forward 2 to 3 stitches and go back 2 or 3 stitches. After that, you hit the start button and you go forward again.

Then some models have little levers you push down in order to sew in reverse. Once you are done, you push the lever back up and start sewing forward again. Because different methods are used by the same brand, you really should check out your owner’s manual to see how your backstitch or reverse function operates. Then practice a few times in order to make sure you are ready for those times you need to reverse your machine.

In your practice use a scrap piece of fabric. This will only take about 20 minutes to do and once you have practiced you should be ready for when you do the real thing.

How to Backstitch Without Reverse

There are several ways to accomplish this. One way is to spin your material around and make sure the holes line up and then do your stitching forward. This option only reverses the material not the sewing direction of the machine.

Another option is to do what is called a ghetto backstitch. This is where you pull the foot up when you have reached the end of the seam and then pull the material back about 3 to 5 stitches and then sew over your original stitches.

This is not a pretty method to use and it works best when the seam is going to be hidden from view. Some sewers will sew to the end and leave about 2 inches of thread loose on both ends. Then they backstitch by hand. Depending on your skill, you will add only a few to about 10 minutes to your sewing time when you use this method.

One tip for doing the ghetto backstitch, when you are done sewing take a little of the thread and tie a square knot into it to make sure the stitches are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Or use a drop of glue or a surgeon’s knot at the end. How you tie the stitch off is up to you.

Back Stitch On a Sewing Machine is Loose


When you start seeing loose back stitches, think of simple sources first. The reason for that is those simple solutions do not cost a lot of money if they cost you at all. Plus, they are easy to fix and you do not lose a lot of sewing time.

The first place to look would be your tension dials. make sure the tension is set correctly and if not adjust back to where the dial should be set. A more difficult to fix source is the timing. If the timing is off then your stitches will be off. The timing will account for more bad stitches than just the loose option.

Another simple source for this problem can be the thread in the bobbin. If it is not the same as the top thread, then you may have trouble with your reverse stitches. Double-check to make sure the bobbin thread is the same as the top thread.

Another source for this type of problem is one of the basic sources you will find for most sewing issues. Check your cleaning schedule to see when was the last time you cleaned your machine.

If it has been a while, then you will need to clean it up and see if that solves your problem. It won’t hurt to do it either as a dirty machine will create other problems for you as well.

All of the above problems, except for the timing, you should be able to fix on your own. The timing should be handled by a skilled and approved repairman.

How to Backstitch On a Singer Sewing Machine

Singer is one brand that places a U-shaped arrow on a button. They like using symbols on their machines so you will need your owner’s manual, in the beginning, to learn what those symbols mean.

The arrow with a U shape is your reverse button. You need to push it and the machine model that has that feature will continue to sew in reverse until you manually stop it. By manually stopping it we mean take your foot off the foot pedal when the machine has sewn enough in reverse.

To get the machine to sew forward again, simply push that U-shaped button again and the Singer model will change directions once more. Because Singer uses a lot of symbols, you may hit the wrong button.

To clear up the mistake, just turn your machine off and then on again. This will reset the machine and cancel the previous mistaken command. For other Singer models, again, look in your owner’s manual to get the model-specific instructions.

Sometimes the table of contents does not use exact words like ‘sewing in reverse’ they may use a different term to describe the feature.

Backstitch On a Kenmore Sewing Machine


Kenmore was not made by Sears and was made by different companies throughout the brand’s long history. This means that the reverse function may be different on their sewing machines even if they are in the same model series.

One model or several models will have the push button system. This system is not the most convenient as the owner’s manual states you have to look for the right button and then hold it down while sewing in reverse.

To go forward, you release the button and the machine will operate normally. The good thing about this particular sewing machine model is that the reverse button is very visible and very accessible.

It is located on the back face of the machine and according to the owner’s manual, there are no other dials or buttons anywhere near it. Pushing the wrong button seems to be an issue you do not have to worry about with this Kenmore.

We can’t speak for the other Kenmore models but your owner’s manual for those will show you where the reverse function is and how to operate it. This is one time the manual may say reverse function in the table of contents.

How to Backstitch On a Brother Sewing Machine

If you have a Brother sewing machine that is automatic or has an automatic reverse function, then the process is quite simple. make sure the fabric is in the start position for the backstitch, then select your stitch pattern. After you do those two requirements hit the U-shaped symbol which is on the reverse button.

When you push that button the machine will handle the rest. To stop the reverse stitch just hit that U-shaped button again. For other models, the procedure is a little more detailed.

First, you make sure the needle is in the fabric not just touching it. Then start sewing forward for about 4 to 5 stitches. When you reach that point press and hold the reverse button. When you have reached the end of the backstitching length, release the button.

To go forward just hit the start button and the machine will go forward again. On the other end of the seam simply repeat the process and sew for another 4 to 5 stitches.

How Do You Do a Backstitch in Knitting?

There are some simple steps to follow to make sure you get this process correct.

  • Step 1: Pin right sides together.
  • Step 2: Using a tapestry needle and some yarn, move 1 stitch in from the edge and bring the needle up and through both layers. You are coming from the bottom direction.
  • Step 3: Now you go around the edge and come out in the same spot. Then bring the bottom edges together.
  • Step 4: Next, go around the edge again and move up one stitch. That means you are ahead of the original stitch by one place.
  • Step 5: Go through the original stitch and make sure to bring the tip of the needle through both layers again.
  • Step 6: Continue this process until you are finished with the piece. The key here is to make sure you have the right tension as you work each stitch.

You should be able to see the backstitch forming and how it holds both pieces together in a secure manner. If not, double-check your work to make sure you are doing it right.

There Will Be Problems


From time to time you may find that your reverse function, whether it is a button or a lever, will cause you hassles. It is a fact of life when it comes to sewing machines. We have already written an article addressing some of those issues.

All you have to do is click on Sewing Machine Reverse Stich Problems to get to that web page and see what you can do to solve those problems before going to a repairman. You won’t be able to fix every problem but at least you can save money and time by repairing those issues yourself.

Some Final Words

Back stitching is not hard to do. A novice sewer should have no problem handling this technique and all they will need is a little practice. Sewing machines make this technique even easier to do including the automatic and computerized models.

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