Does the reverse side of your cross stitch project look messy?

Rosie6662May 13, 2004

I've been cross stitching on and off for 20 years. I've recently picked up the hobby again, to include buying from ebay some pieces already stitched. I was shocked to see how neat the reverse side was -- almost as perfect as the front. I've tried to be careful and as neat as possible but somehow the back aways looks a mess? Does the reverse side of your projects look good and, if so, how do you do it?

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Do all your stitches go in the same direction? That usually helps to keep it looking nice on the reverse side.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2004 at 4:33PM
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My stuff was always a mess until I saw Shay Pendrays program. She starts with a waste knot (want knot, waste knot) a distance away and secures the stitches by running the thread through the back of a few completed stitches.

I do a lot of Hummel pictures and found this eliminated a lot of bulk and the back is very neat and secure. I sometimes do one further and end with a humungous french knot on the top with a short tail to grab a short distance away so when I'm about to stitch over those threads, all I have to do is snip the french knot on the top and keep on stitching--it is faster than flip and whip through the back of a few stitches.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2004 at 8:15AM
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This is my first time to visit this forum and don't do much stitching anymore due to rheumatoid arthritis but I still love the craft. If you cut and restart your stitching if you have to go over more than 3 stitches it makes it much neater also. I used to go way across the back to the same color section until I saw how neat my friend's was and asked her how she did it.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 4:19PM
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I don't have any knots because when I start a thread I fold it in half and put the needle through the thread hoop, and when I finish a thread, I slide the needle through about 4 or 5 threads. It just doesn't look neat. The couple of completed projects I bought off e-bay were s00000 neat on the pack, it looked almost like the front. I can't imagine how they did it. Oh well, I'll keep trying. Thanks all

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 4:48PM
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Try a waste knot at the front of your work and stitch back towards where the waste knot is for a few stitches to tack the thread down, clip the waste knot and keep on stitching or wait until another thread intersects and then clip the waste knot.

Depending upon the project, I sometimes have to use 3 threads so a thread fold over will not cut it. Even if using two threads or blending threads, I tie a knot at the end of the thread for a waste knot to start the work. I would also check an embroidery text to make sure you are doing your stitches correctly.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2004 at 6:49AM
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There is a technique for making the majority of the back look similar to the front, but it is not exactly like the front. I will try to explain it, but it is better to see it demonstrated in person. There are some cross stitch pieces in museums where the design is intentionally made to take advantage of this technique so that the back very nearly looks like the front. If the design does not take this technique into acount, then the back is much neater but not a mirror image of the front.

Basically, let's take an example of 4 cross stitches in a row: XXXX

Normally, you would stitch so as to either complete each X as you work across the row (as when working with varigated thread for instance) or you would work //// and then go back and make the other side of the stitch to give XXXX.

In this technique what you do is:
1.) work the first half of the first and third stitches so that you have / / . Bring the thread to the front of the fabric, coming up through the lower right corner of the fourth stitch.

2.) Going back across the row, stitch the second half of the fourth and second X's, in that order so that on the front you have /\/\. Bring the thread to the front of the fabric, coming through the top left corner of the first stitch. At this point the back will deviate slightly from the front and the last X on the back will have a stitch across the top.
3.) Complete the first and third X's, giving X\X\ on the front. Bring the thread up through the upper right corner of the fourth stitch.

4.) Complete the fourth and second X's, in that order, threading the needle UNDER the existing half of the X so the the stitches all run the same direction. At this point the front and the back should like very nearly the same.

I know this sounds confusing, but it is really pretty simple and when stitching, you get in the habit of looking for where the design will allow you to use this technique. If you have a needlework shop, they should be able to demonstrate it for you. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2004 at 10:56AM
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Thanks Kimmer! I'm going to print this out and practice at home tonight. Thanks much!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2004 at 2:27PM
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I am so glad to come across this message! The backs of mine always look so messy. Thanks for the tips

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 8:55PM
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My stuff is variable, though most of it is backed so that one never sees the other side.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 1:34AM
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My daughter & I are new to X-stitching. When starting, we both start with the loop method, and finish by threading through a few stitches. This works fine. What I have a problem with, is, when working upwards, ie. counting from the middle point, this makes it look messy on the back. You always seem to want to go in on the next row up, where you came out on the row below. We do seem to prefer working full stitches as we go, rather than a row of //// then back again \\\\. Any tips would be much appreciated

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 7:33PM
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That method works fine if you have a few stitches within an area. I do whole pictures with large areas of one color where the /// and \\\ work much better, start with a waste knot per strand and color on top of the work like you do in needlepoint and either run the floss through the back of the last few stitches, or as I discovered works very well to end a strand, make another waste knot a few rows below or above on top using a large french knot when I know future rows will secure that thread and clip the waste knots as I go along. This helps not flipping your work and hoop back and forth to end threads and seems to make the work go faster with less bulk in the back from running stitches under stitches.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 3:03AM
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You betcha! But who is going to see it?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 1:36PM
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Same comment, who is going to see it and who has time to spend, I'm lucky to get the top looking good and the project finished.
Junie 2

    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 10:37PM
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Dear Rosie,

We stitchers can sometimes be snobs. We look at a project and think, "Well, the front looks good...", then we instinctively turn the project over to examine the back side. The backside should be as neat as the front and don't we scorn the stitcher whose back doesn't measure up?:)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 1:46PM
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I completely agree with Junie2 but I recently bought a blanket to cross stitch and aren't sure what to do, any suggestions?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2007 at 10:39PM
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You can view backs of projects posted by others on my stitching site at the link below:


Here is a link that might be useful: Cyberstitchers

    Bookmark   August 8, 2007 at 3:57PM
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I discovered why the cross stitch projects I bought on ebay looked so neat on the back....they were done with a machine....

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 3:43PM
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Don't leave us hanging Rosie. Tell us more. Is this cross stitch on evenweave fabric? How is this possible?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 11:26PM
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Mine usually looks very nice. Not perfect. But I have gotten compliments from my sisters and Mother. I am very careful not to carry threads over too many blocks and I run my starting thread under a couple of blocks and when I am finished I do the same.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 3:16PM
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