Saturday, February 14, 2015

Back Stitching on Aida and Why Sometimes it's Torturous

When I first started out cross stitching, I really disliked back stitching. I found it extremely time consuming and often very difficult. Over the years I have found ways of making this aspect of cross stitching some what easier. (I will be doing a post on some of the methods I use to make my back stitching more enjoyable and also better looking in a later post.) However some charts have complicated back stitching and using Aida makes the process close to nightmarish.

Why some back stitching more difficult on aida

This issues used to be a bigger problem for me when I had an unjustified fear of deviating from the recommendations on a chart in any way. Now it most often arises when using free card kits that come with magazines. The Margaret Sherry Mouse, pictured below, and the Lickle Ted design that is my current lunch time project are two such examples.

Margaret Sherry Mouse Card Kit
These two kits, and all other free kits that I have seen, include Aida for stitching on. They are the perfect size for the pattern so I use this piece rather than cutting something from my stash. Aida is a great fabric to work with as it is a nice and stiff, which makes it easy to stitch in hand. Each square on the fabric represents a stitch and I find it can be a bit more relaxing than evenweave as I don't need to concentrate on my stitch placement as much.

Then I get to the back stitching and this is when I wish I had gone to my stash. Both of these projects have small back stitches that may not start or end in a hole in the fabric. In fact they can appear out of anywhere within the stitch square. For instance if you look at the picture below, this is a close up of the ear of the mouse framed above.


In the circled section you can see that the chart called for the backstitching to come up about half way between the two top holes, piercing the fabric, and go down in the centre of the aida square, again piercing the fabric. Not only is this difficult to do, as it can be difficult to push the needle through the fabric, but it can also be hard to get the placement just right. I have often had to rip out stitching because it was askew.
 
Back stitching is a good thing

It must be pointed out that in both of these charts it is this type of backstitching that gives the piece its charm. These smaller backstitches are often used in projects where the subject has fur or is fluffy. The chicks in my recent Somebunny to Love project are another example of this type of back stitching and I think the effect is very sweet. While this type of stitching is difficult it gives some really pretty results.

Somebunny to Love - The World of Cross Stitching Issue 179
Not all back stitching on aida is difficult, in fact some of it is down right pleasant when nearly all the stitches go from one hole on one fabric square to the opposite one either diagonally, vertically or horizontally. This sweet mini project by Joan Elliott is a perfect example of this.

Ultimate Joan Elliott Collection - Thanks You Cards
How working on evenweave differs

When working on medium/large piece, that has a lot of this small back stitching, I will usually use evenweave. It makes the piece significantly easier to do. tHis is because with evenweave you stitch over 2 strands of fabric. (This can make it a slightly more difficult fabric to work with overall and something I would not recommend to an absolute beginner.) Working over 2 for cross stitch means, you come up through one hole on the fabric, skip the next one diagonally and go down through the following hole. When a chart calls for small back stitches it means that instead of having to pierce the fabric, as you do with aida, you can just use the pre-existing holes.


The above image shows a small back stitch which came up through the hole on the left and down through the very next hole to the right. In aida the same stitch would mean having to pierce the fabric between the two holes in the fabric. Working on evenweave makes the whole process easier, less time consuming, less tiresome on my hands and leads to less ripping out.

This does not mean that I never use aida for these types of projects. The Lickle Ted project I am currently working on has small back stitching yet I am still using the enclosed aida as it is only a small project. However below are two projects for which, I really wish I had used evenweave. Though I think they still look great on the aida.

Margaret Sherry - Hedgehog - Summer Fun Booklet
Lickle Ted with Star  - The World of Cross Stitching Issue 167
I hope that this post has been enjoyable and that you found it useful. This was inspired by a question I recently received regarding a statement I made about back stitching on evenweave.

I would love to know your thoughts and if you have any other tips for working difficult back stitch on projects please leave a comment below.

I am still working on getting the images together for my gridding tutorial, hopefully you will see that in the next week.

18 comments:

  1. I sometimes re-create backstitch if I find it too difficult or not looking good on fabric on which i work. I know it is not the best idea to do sometimes, but i cross stitch for my own pleasure, and very often small change of a backstitch, which is nicer done in other way then it is indicated in pattern, makes result look nicer then if I just follow original lines.

    And all your works looks really lovely!

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  2. Thanks so much for your comment. I agree that stitching in a way that is most pleasant for the stitcher is a must. I have started to make small changes to patterns if there is something I'm not particularly happy with, so I think it is a great solution for back stitching as well.

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  3. Great post. I only work on 14ct aida and I love to backstitch. 99% of my projects are like the Joan Elliott one you did. The only ones I have problems with are the Bothy Thread's. They do use a fraction backstitch. I think yours look great.

    Linda

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I like back stitching as well and it finishes off a design so well.

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  4. Great post. I used to be an aida-only girl but now favour evenweave when there are fractional stitches or complicated backstitching. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way from starting so many projects during the January/February Challenge, especially Margaret Sherry designs.
    From a distance fiddly backstitching does not look too bad on aida but, as stitchers, we know it's not quite right and that bugs us.
    Evenweave is definitely not as evil as I thought it would be and when I get to the fractionals or backstitching I'm so glad I'm not using aida! :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I completely agree, I too find doing fractionals on evenweave much easier and will definitely be using it for future MS designs. I absolutely love Margaret Sherry's work but for my sanity they have to be stitched on evenweave.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I hope you found something useful or interesting in there.

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  6. Terrific post! I haven't gotten brave enough to try working on anything but aida, and I hate backstitching. The Cherished Teddies I work on have a lot of fractional back stitches.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I used to be the same, I was very nervous about trying evenweave and it looked so difficult but it is fairly straight forward. Once you have the first stitches in it makes it much easier. I wonder if you might find back stitching more enjoyable if it didn't have the fractionals or if you tried evenweave for patterns that do.

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  7. Backstitching is the worst! I try to stitch mine as I go...

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I have to admit that sometimes I adore doing a chart from Just Cross Stitch as they often don't have any back stitching. However there have been times when I have started the back stitching in a project to get a break from the cross stitching. My last somebunny chart is a good example of that. I found back stitching the bunnies as I went along helped to keep me going with the project.

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  8. Oh yes, some design should be only stitched on evenweave!! Especially the ones with all the backstitch :)

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment Mii. I am sure that if I hadn't stitched somebunny on evenweave it would definitely been used to light the fire :-)

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  9. I never been bothered by back stitching, occasionally I will get in a bit of trouble but it always works out.

    CJ

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    1. Thanks for your comment. it is really great to see how different stitchers feel about back stitching. I always love hearing how others approach things that I find difficult.

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  10. I don't do much backstitching (that's great about Haeds) because I don't really like it. It looks amazing when it's done, but sometimes it's a real pain, lol.
    I must say, that I recently had a project using quarter stitches and I was very happy that I stitched over 2 on 28ct. I guess that would have been very frustrating to stitch over 1 on 14ct, lol. Maybe I will find my love for backstitching, one glorious day,,, ;D

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  11. Thanks for your comment. I have to agree, the lack of back and partial stitching in HAEDs is really nice but then they have way more confetti :) Evenweave is great for partial stitches as well.

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Would love to read any comments you would like to leave. Thanks for brightening my day :)