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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finish whipping all the backstitches, joining to the backstitches where you started. Don’t forget the bead on the last stitch if using beads.
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?
Check out our DIY Embroidery Finishing classes covering the following subjects:
- DIY Framing
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!