How Do I Keep the Back of My Cross Stitch Neat and Tidy… and does it matter?

This is one of the most asked questions from my Cowbell Cross Stitch customers. Well, the answer is…it depends. If you are a casual stitcher and your projects are just for fun or for yourself, then I would say it probably doesn’t matter. If however, you are always striving to be a better stitcher, or if you are stitching a commissioned piece, the back of your project can indeed make a difference to the finished look.

So let’s start with the casual stitcher. The patterns stitched by this kind of stitcher might be solely for the enjoyment of the process. Sometimes we like to relax and shake off the stress of the day with an hour or two of our favorite hobby. When I stitch for this reason, I don’t particularly want to be restricted by rules. I just like to have something to do with my hands and maybe experiment with different types of threads and stitches. Or maybe I have a new fabric and I’m not too sure how it behaves with stitching. On these occasions, I don’t get too wrapped up in the finish of the back.The other kind of stitcher may need to be just a little more careful with the finishing touches, either because the stitcher is perfecting his/her craft or because the project is for more than just the enjoyment of stitching. Most of my stitching nowadays is for a specific intention like a framed piece or a gift or a pillow etc. Here is where the neatness of the back can really matter. If your fabric has a lot of knots and tangles on the reverse, it might not lay flat when it is framed. Or it won’t have that smooth look and feel on the front of all the top stitches laying in the same direction. It could just mean the difference between a good finish and a great one.

In the end, it really should be whatever makes you comfortable. If you are happy with your finished project, does it really matter what anyone else thinks? And if you strive for perfection, why not try to keep those stitches a little neater and tuck those tail threads in. We’ll talk about that in another blog post.

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