Cross Stitch Finishing: Overcast Backstitches

Several of the Funk & Weber Designs Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy cross stitch bookmark pattern models are two-sided. They don’t have to be, of course; both sides can be stitched and finished alone. However, if you want a two-sided bookmark, this tutorial demonstrates one finishing method.

  • Step 1

    Stitch front and back designs on fabric. Backstitch over 4 threads around the perimeter of each with size 8 pearl cotton. Trim front and back pieces 1/2 inch beyond the backstitching.

  • Step 2

    Finger press hem toward back side of needlework. If you’ve used a pulled backstitch, it’s probably enough to finger press the fabric. A hot iron works, too.

    Align the front and back fabrics, wrong sides together. Think sandwich: the backstitches are the crust.

  • Step 3

    Begin in a bottom corner. Match the backstitches from the two fabrics, and whip them together. (Not sure what a whip stitch is? Slip your needle upward, under the bottom backstitch, then under the top backstitch, being sure not to catch any fabric. You’re picking up the backstitches only.) Leave a 4- to 6-inch tail on your working thread to secure later. If you’re adding the optional beads, now’s the time. I added a bead to each whip stitch. You can add them to every other stitch, every third stitch, etc.

  • Step 4

    Now bring your needle up through the next two backstitches, and on and on and on. How simple is that?! If you’re not using beads, your working thread will look a bit like a rope as it spirals around the backstitches. If you’re using beads, you won’t see the working thread very well.

  • Funk & Weber Overcast Backstitches tutorial, add padding

    Step 5

    When you’ve whipped two sides of the bookmark, stop! If you’re adding batting, do it now. I measured the length and width of my bookmark along the backstitch lines then cut a piece of felt slightly smaller than those dimensions. The felt gives the piece a soft pillowy feel, hides the internal hem, and prevents the back side from being seen through the front. You know how you can sort of see the printing on the back side of a two-sided document? Well, you can sometimes see the needlework on the back side of a two-sided piece. If you don’t want a pillow effect, try a thin piece of fabric instead—maybe muslin or the same fabric you used to stitch the piece.

  • Funk & Weber Overcast Backstitches tutorial, add hanger

    Step 6

    Continue whipping the backstitches together until you reach the center top. Stop! Instead of attaching a bead here, attach a split ring or ribbon. I tend to attach a split ring even if I’m using a ribbon instead of a hook. I tie the ribbon to the split ring. A large ribbon will require a larger split ring. Take extra stitches through the ring or ribbon to secure it.

  • Funk & Weber Overcast Backstitches tutorial, the final bead

    Step 7

    Finish whipping all the backstitches, joining to the backstitches where you started. Don’t forget the bead on the last stitch if using beads.

  • Funk & Weber Overcast Backstitches tutorial, the completed bookmark

    Step 8

    Tie the thread ends together in a secure knot (square knot works great), then hide the thread tails inside the hem, between the two layers.

    Congratulations–you and your cross stitched bookmark are finished!


Not Finished Finishing?

DIY Embroidery Framing, Funk & Weber DesignsI’d love to help!

Check out our DIY Embroidery Finishing classes covering the following subjects:

  • DIY Framing
  • Hemstitching
  • Piecing
  • Pillows

Or, for other small projects like the bookmark shown in this post, check out Bookmarks 101: Simple, Smart, and Swanky Finishes. These finishes work on so much more than bookmarks!

Stitched bookmarks finished myriad ways.

Learn simple, smart, and swanky ways to finish bookmarks and other stitchy doo-dads.

9 Responses to “Cross Stitch Finishing: Overcast Backstitches”

  1. […] glued, trimmed version of the baubleI put the two sides together with overcast backstitches. I was tempted to make it a bookband, but wasn’t quite ready to stop stitching monkeys, so I […]

    February 15, 2011 @ 1:59 pm
  2. […] for a—you guessed it!—bookmark. You can finish it with plain white backing using the Overcast Backstitches finishing tutorial. After staring at the embroidery, just flip it over to see the afterimage on the back […]

    May 31, 2011 @ 9:03 pm
  3. Christine

    Wonderful tutorial! You make it look really easy and I love the detailed pictures! Well done! I made a little fob once but I made it way more difficult than it needed to be. I’ve made a few more tiny stitched pieces and threw them in a drawer…I think I’ll retrieve them and try this!

    December 6, 2013 @ 7:50 am
  4. Jen

    Thanks, Christine! I hope you find overcasting backstitches easy and useful. I’ve been into making small things recently, and I use it all the time. The Bookmarks 101 class/e-book is full of finishing techniques for small projects.

    Happy finishing!

    December 6, 2013 @ 8:54 am
  5. This is gorgeous! I never thought of adding beads 🙂

    October 22, 2015 @ 2:10 pm
  6. What a great idea to put pieces back to back. The beads around the edge takes it to a whole new level of fabulousness!

    October 22, 2015 @ 7:06 pm
  7. Thanks for explaining this in a simple enough way that even a stitching-challenged person, like myself, can follow! The beads are so pretty!

    October 22, 2015 @ 7:14 pm
  8. Janita

    Great idea, simply and clearly described and illustrated. Thank you!

    December 4, 2015 @ 2:34 am
  9. Jen

    Thanks, Janita. I hope you find it as endlessly useful as I do.

    December 4, 2015 @ 5:44 am

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