How to back (or finish) an embroidery hoop with running stitch

There are so many options for backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop. If you're brand new to stitching, you may feel overwhelmed by your choices - it's hard not to feel like you're on the search for the "best" or "most correct" way to do it when you're new! That said, there are no "right" or "wrong" ways to finish embroidery projects, only personal preferences that you'll develop overtime with practice and experience.


I've shown how I back embroidery hoops using recycled cardboard in a previous post, and today I'll share another easy and beginner-friendly way to finish your projects: running stitch!


Back of a green embroidery hoop that has been finished using a running stitch.
This method is super simple and beginner-friendly!

I've provided instructions for how to back your embroidery hoop using running stitch in written, photo, and video format (feel free to jump ahead to the video tutorial, or watch it directly on my YouTube channel, should that be easier for you to follow!). You may also find my post on running stitch to be useful, especially if you're new to this stitch!


Step 1: Trim your fabric and prepare a length of floss.


Start by trimming your fabric around your hoop so that you're left with about an inch or so to fold toward the back. I generally follow the circular shape of the hoop itself when trimming, but don't worry too much about getting your fabric to the perfect shape.


You'll also want to grab a length of floss. I usually grab about 12-16" of floss here, and it can be any color you like (as it'll be hidden in the back once you've finished the process).


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Step 2: Create a single straight stitch, leaving yourself a tail.


Next, create a single straight stitch by bringing your needle down through your fabric, back up any distance you like, and pulling your floss until you're left with a short tail.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.
Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Unlike a typical straight stitch, which would leave us with a single stitch on top of our fabric, this leaves us with a straight stitch at the bottom of our fabric. I find that this makes the pulling portion of this technique a bit easier to do later on in the process.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Step 3: Create a running stitch around the perimeter of your hoop, pulling your floss after every few stitches.


If you prefer, you can create each stitch individually, pulling your floss after each stitch (as you would were you doing a running stitch on top of your fabric). In the photo below, you can see that I'm using the sewing method, meaning that I'm creating several stitches before pulling my floss through my fabric.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Be careful not to pull so hard that you pull out the tail from the last step; you'll want to be especially cognizant of this for your first few running stitches.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

In the photo below, you can see what my project looks like once I've made it to about the halfway point.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Step 4: Pull your two tails together to cinch your fabric.


Once you've made it back to where you started, you'll have two tails.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Pull one tail at a time to cinch your fabric so that it overlaps the back of your hoop.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

This is a super satisfying technique!


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.
Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

To cinch the rest of your fabric, pull from your other tail.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.
Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Step 5: Secure your cinched fabric by tying your tails together with a simple knot.


The pulling you'll do here will also help to further cinch your fabric.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Once your knot is secure, snip off the remaining bits of floss.


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

All done!


Hope demonstrates the process of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch.

Video tutorial for how to back (or finish) an embroidery hoop with running stitch


In the simple video tutorial below, I show you how to back an embroidery hoop using running stitch in real time - I hope it's helpful!



Pros and cons of backing (or finishing) an embroidery hoop using running stitch


As with other techniques, this method comes with both pros and cons. The advantages include that it requires use of a simple, beginner-friendly stitch; that it does not require any extra supplies (such as glue or cardboard.); and, as in the cardboard method for backing a hoop, can be easily undone should you need to re-do a portion of your hoop or re-tighten your fabric.


On the other hand, you may find this technique to be a bit more difficult to achieve with thicker fabrics; you might not like that it doesn't allow your hoop to lay perfectly flat against a surface; and, depending on the fabric you've used and how you choose to display your project, you may find that the image on the front of your hoop becomes distorted when exposed to light. This last point is demonstrated in the photo below, where you can see the edges of my hoop are a bit darker than the center, and my traveling floss is somewhat visible from the front.


Hope holds up an embroidery hoop with orange tulips stitched onto a mustard linen fabric.

Thank you for being here, and I can't wait to see what you make!

I hope this was useful, and I can't wait to see what you make - whether you create something from one of my kits or patterns, or from a design of your very own! If you'd like to share your work with me, you can always tag me on your social media accounts (@hopebroidery on Instagram and Twitter, @hope.broidery on TikTok). If you don't have public social accounts, but still want to share, consider emailing me a few pictures (hope@hopebroidery.com), I would love the chance to tell you how much I love your work!


Happy stitching!