How to Backstitch

Hey, you!

When you’re sewing seams, you will need to secure the start and the end of each seam line that you want to commit to permanently.

Because if you don’t, those seams will start to unravel faster than you can say, “No, you didn’t!”

And you have three choices. You can…

  • Backstitch
  • Locking Stitch
  • Shorten stitch length

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

How to Backstitch

Most machines have a backstitch or reverse button. The downward curved arrow on the button below is the universal sign for backstitch.

backstitch or reverse button on sewing machine

Did you find it?!


Backstitching is super easy.

Most instructions tell you to stitch forward a few stitches, backstitch, and then stitch forward again at the beginning and at the end of a stitching line.

Of course, this works. But it can get bulky and not cute. So I prefer to use this method…

positioning fabric under sewing needle to backstitch

  1. Position your fabric under the presser foot so that the needle is about ¼ inch in from the raw, top edge (see image above).
  2. Now, press the backstitch button and backstitch without sewing off the edge.
  3. Then, release the backstitch button and stitch forward.
  4. As you are near the end of the seam line (just shy of the raw edge), press the backstitch button again and stitch for about three stitches.
  5. Now, release the backstitch button, lift your presser foot, remove the fabric, and snip the threads.


This method results in less bulk at the start and at the end of your seamline. And it’s prettier too.

I know you’re probably thinking, “Whatever, Janine.” But trust me, for certain fabrics like sheers, it can make a huge difference. You’ll see.

Sew easy tip: Some machines like my so fabulous Janome DC2014 has a built-in stitch for backstitching (it is stitch #3 on my machine–see image below). So all I have to do is position my fabric, sew my seamline. Then, as I near the end of the seamline, I press the backstitch button once and let the machine do its thing! With this feature, no more backstitching than absolutely necessary! Love, love, love.

Okay. Now let’s move on to another option…

How to Lockstitch

locking stitch on stitch selection panel of janome dc2014

Many sewing machines today, certainly computerized ones, come with a nifty option to secure the start and the end of a seam line. It is called the locking stitch.

Basically, when you choose this stitch, your sewing machine will go up and down in place a few times at the start of your seam line, creating a tiny little knot.

Then, as you near the end of the seam line, press the backstitch button and it will end the seam line with the same neat little knot.

No bulk. Just a sweet, itty bitty knot! Love it!

Sew easy tip: If your machine does not have a built-in locking stitch, try this: Set your stitch length to 0mm and stitch in place a few times at the start and at the end of your seamline.

Finally, here is one last option for securing a seamline…

Shorten the Stitch Length

This is a great option for sewing darts (Coming So Soon!) and when sewing delicate, lightweight fabrics.

In other words…

  1. At the start of your seamline, shorten the stitch length to 1.0mm and sew for about ½ inch.
  2. Stop and increase stitch length back to normal, which is between 2.5 to 3.0mm.
  3. Continue to sew your seamline. As you near the last ½ inch or so, stop and…
  4. Reduce stitch length to 1.0mm and complete the seamline.

That’s it.

Trust me, your seam line is secure! Those itty bitty stitches are near impossible to remove even when you desperately need to!

The End

This article has shown you three ways to secure your permanent seamlines: (1) backstitch; (2) locking stitch; and (3) shorten the stitch length.

Which means that you’re now the boss of seam lines!

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to adjust your stitch type, stitch length, and stitch width!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn how to sew a plain seam!

RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies!

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