To Backstitch or not?

In sewing classes there are 2 questions I am asked most often:

  1. “Do I take the pins out?”

There is only one answer, “Yes!!!”

2. “Do I backstitch?”


Well… sometimes we backstitch and sometimes it is not important. When teaching children I often say “yes” just so they get in the habit of back stitching. Sewing teachers have differing opinions on the backstitch due to the fact that a backstitch can add bulk to a seam depending on the location or the type of fabric. It also can take extra time that may not be necessary.


Everyone agrees we don’t want the seam to unravel or stretch out of shape, but there are different techniques to accomplish this. With fine fabrics such as silk and chiffon, a couture technique is to use very tiny stitches at the beginning and end of the seam to hold it, alleviating any chance of thread bulk or fabric bunching. The other option is to leave extra thread and tie a square knot at the end of the seam. I also do this with the decorative stitches as many machines do not lock stitch when set on a decorative stitch. Sometimes it is not important to back stitch as the seam will eventually become encased in or crossed over by another seam.


Whichever method is preferred, the ultimate goal is to sew a garment or product that lays beautifully, smoothly, and will stay together. The beauty of a handmade item is in the smallest of details. Should you backstitch? Yes!!, but consider the best method for the best outcome.