Split back stitch

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Split back stitch is an easy way to follow a curve in hand embroidery, whether you're stitching a line drawing (like what I'll be doing in the example for this today's post), hand lettering, or the center of a hand embroidered wreath.


Photo of an embroidery hoop with green vines stitched onto white felt.
A finished hoop using (mostly!) split back stitch.

In this post, I've provided step-by-step instructions for how to do split back stitch in written, photo, and video format (feel free to jump ahead, should video tutorials be easier for you to follow!).



Step 1: Bring your needle up through your fabric, and then back down any distance you like.


In general, I recommend shorter stitches for tighter or more delicate curves.



Step 2: Bring your needle back up that same distance, and following your line of stitching.


So far, we're simply following the same steps as a simple back stitch; you'll get to the "split" portion of this stitch in our next step!



Step 3: Bring your needle back down through your fabric by splitting your first stitch in two.


This is where the stitch gets its name, i.e., split back stitch!



In the photo below, I'm pointing to my first split back stitch with my needle.



Step 4: Continue your line of stitching using split back stitch, doing your best to keep your stitch length fairly consistent.


In the photo below, you can see what my line of stitching looks like once I'm about halfway finished. I'm using just three strands of embroidery floss here; in the video tutorial below, you can see me using just two strands.



Step 5: To finish a line of split back stitch, split your last stitch on itself.


Begin by making a normal split back stitch.



Next, bring your needle up through the hole created with your last stitch (versus going up any distance, as we're finished with our line of stitching).



Finally, bring your needle back down, splitting your last stitch.



All done!



Video tutorial for split back stitch


In the video tutorial below, I use just two strands of embroidery floss to stitch a leaf from my pattern. In the video, you'll be able to see how I stitch a shape that has two lines of stitching (versus just one line of stitching, as in the instructions above).



I hope this was helpful, and I can't wait to see what you make! 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!