Neatness counts

I recently replied to a comment in a cross stitch group on Facebook asking whether anyone thought it was important to have a neat reverse to your stitching.  I posted the photo below taken of my celtic heart design showing both the front and back of my own stitching:

Does it matter how neat the back of your work is? I think so…

Comments flew in from far and wide with many people of the opinion that I must have OCD to keep my stitching that neat.  Some thought it was a waste of time and that it must take me weeks to make sure that everything looks so nice on the reverse and others said it didn’t matter at all what the back looked like as no-one would see it.

Well, I do care about how my stitching looks, both front and back, but do I take ages worrying about the back and checking it looks OK?  NO!  It’s neat on the back because I have been stitching for over 25 years (makes me sound very old) and you just get used to it.

But why do I think it’s important that the back is neat?

  1. Lumps and bumps on the back mean that framing, stretching or even making your design up into a cushion will leave the front looking uneven and it will be noticeable.
  2. Long lines of thread from one place to another show through to the front of the fabric – especially if the thread is a lot darker than the fabric you are stitching on.
  3. It can use up a lot more thread if you run thread all over the place or don’t stitch in a systematic way and if you’ve bought a kit you may well run out of thread before you finish your design.

So whether the reverse of your stitching looks like mine or better or worse, you (and your framer) are the only people who will see the back your work, but try to recall my reasons for neatness next time you start a new piece and see how you get on…

6 thoughts on “Neatness counts

  1. I hear what you’re saying about thread efficiency, but it also depends on how big your project is and how many confetti stitches you have. Check out for some of the more complex pieces. I’ll bet you’ll be hooked 😉

    • Thank you so much for your comment – I love the term ‘confetti stitches’ and your website is amazing. I have two unfinished pieces which are very large and have unfortunately come to the conclusion that they are just not for me (one of them I have been doing since I was 18!)…

  2. I agree. The neatness of the back often does matter, especially if you have more creative plans for your embroidery than just framing it. I was recently admiring an old needlework book that had a cross-stitched border on sheets, and I have seen some lovely designs to add to hand towels. Sometimes the wrong side of a project will be visible. In such cases, it is probably best to avoid the really complex designs with lots of ‘confetti stitches’ as they are trickier to make neat front and back. (I love the term ‘confetti stitches’. I hadn’t heard that before.)
    Your Celtic heart is brilliant. It shows an expert hand at work.
    I am only a beginner cross-stitcher who hopes that one day I will be that neat. Already some people in my sewing group think I am a bit OCD just because I like quilted triangle points to be pointy and seams to line up.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment! You are right about showing pieces off on towels and blankets – even more of a reason to be as neat as you can. My Celtic Heart is quite easy to stitch really as there are only 4 colours so even a beginner can give it a go!!

  3. Pingback: [Writing 101] Cross-stitch and Programming | = Snippets =

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