Neat Backstitch Tutorial

In Patterns of Fashion 4, page 106, Janet Arnold mentions that the “backstitch which had the effect of chainstitch on WS as it is so neatly done”. I had this in mind while backstitching run and fell seams on a new pair of drawers. It looks something like this:

Backstitched run & fell seam

WS of backstitch looks like chain stitch

When I posted these pictures to Facebook, a friend asked for instructions, so this is a short tutorial. It’s really a matter of neatening the back when doing an ordinary backstitch. Quick summary: Hold the thread on the back side off to the side when inserting the needle, every stitch.

To start, perform your initial backstitch.

Initial stitch

When inserting the needle, I like to go into the previous hole to the side, which may or may not be important here.

Second stitch

As usual, bring the needle back up into the fabric, preparing for your next backstitch.

Full stitch

Here’s the trick. Use your fingertips to gently move the threads on the back to one side, during each stitch, so your needle always pierces to one side.

Wrong side

It should look like this on the back, after a few stitches:

Wrong side

Four Loop Bow Tutorial

I recently had a need to make a bunch of pretty bows, but wasn’t loving the tutorials that I found. I wanted a four loop bow without tails, but couldn’t seem to find that, so I modified one of the bows I found to suit my needs. This tutorial is so I don’t forget how I did it, and in case someone else wants to make the same bow. I used 2 1/4″ satin ribbon (single sided), but I imagine you could use whatever you want.

Decide how wide you want your bow to be. An 8″ bow was a good size for me, so I made my sections (below) 8″, which results in four 4″ loops and an 8″ wide bow. The original tutorial used 6″ segments, which made a lovely bow with 1 1/2″ wide ribbon.

To hide the tail, the ends are only 1″ wide. Mark the back side of your ribbon with a line or cross to indicate the center of the ribbon. I use a Frixxion pen, which disappears when subjected to heat (such as a steam iron). Thread a needle with matching colored thread, be sure to knot the end. I’m using a 2″ pleating needle for visibility. 

Mark 1″, followed by 4 segments of 8″, followed by 1″. Cut and melt edges for a clean finish.

Working from the right side of your ribbon, insert the needle through the centermost mark. Fold one side over the center and insert the needle from wrong side into the mark closest to the center. Pull thread taut. 

Insert needle into opposite mark from wrong side. Fold loop over and pull thread taut.

You should have the beginnings of a bow.

Insert your needle back through the center next to your thread. Do not use the exact same hole or you will undo your hard work.

Working from the back of the bow you’ve made, insert the needle into the wrong side of the mark closest to one end. Pull snug.

Insert the needle into the opposite end and pull snug. It should look like a bow!

Insert the needle back through the center and flip the bow over to the front.

Next, gather the center edges. Insert the needle back through the center, coming out between the top two layers of ribbon. 

Return through the side of the ribbon and back through the center front. Pull taut.

Repeat on opposite side, then through the next layer (right side up).

Insert your needle through the center front of the bow, all the way to the back, and flip bow over. Work on the back of bow for remaining loops, folding the edges towards the front, so the right side of ribbon is visible from front.

Fold and stitch all bows to the center, as above. Flip bow to front.

Wrap thread around center of bow multiple times, adjusting bow loops for maximum prettiness.

To wrap the center, take a length of your ribbon approximately 6-8″ and seal the end. Starting at the back of the bow, fold your ribbon into thirds, and sew to back of bow. 

Wrap center around front of bow, twice. Stitch tail down behind the bow.

For the project I was working on, I ran a ribbon straight across the stomacher, stitched the ends down, and wrapped the center around the straight ribbon as I closed the bow. Then I sewed the bow to the fabric for support.