Hi all. I recently went to a stitchers reunion here in the Philippines. And as always I had a lot of fun. This time around I was able to beg and plead for one of the expert cross stitchers to teach me her trick of having a neat back.

Previously, what I’m going to teach or try to share with you was just called “neat back” but I know there are a lot of ways for this out there. So, just to make this slightly different, I’m going to call this TUCK AWAY BACK. But before I begin I want to thank HONEY for teaching me. Henrietta Refe, all honor for this is yours.

I'll be taking you on my journey of figuring this thing out. I've actually been practicing on a smaller pattern but my stitchy friends have now demanded a demo. They actually wanted a video but I'm like... uh...sure. Once I figure out who's going to hold the camera while I stitch. Some of the pics here are wonky. I'll try to take better in future. But just to show them how it's done...here it is.  

We'll start off with the basic solid block to get the hang of tucking away. Then I think once you get the hang of it, you can get on even with more mixed colors and finally the dreaded confetti. 

Of course by this time, you should have cloth, needle and thread already… oh and scissors.
Let’s begin to learn about the LOOP START and TUCK AWAY BACK: The Basics. By the way, tuck away is usually done on aida. I haven't yet figured out how to do it on linen. 

Step One. LOOP START. If I knew how to do the pin stitch start, this may be neater. As it is, this’d have to do. There are two ways to do the loop start… from the front or from the back. I prefer the front. (the lesser flipping of my cloth, the better).

You take your needle and thread. Go through the upper right hole of your little square, go up on the lower left and thread your needle through the hoop. Then lightly tug on the loop to tighten it. Now go back down through the same upper right hole and gently pull down your needle. Tada! You’ve anchored your thread and you can start.

From the front of your cloth...insert needle at top right hole and up through lower left hole.

Pull thread through until a small look is left. Insert your needle through there.

Gently pull your needle through and tighten the hole.

It should look like this once the LOOP has been tightened. This is the front of the fabbie.

Now insert your needle through the SAME upper right hole you started from, essentially, pulling your needle through to the back of the fabbie.

You should be left with this.... basically your starting stitch. Ta-da!!

This is the back. Just in case you wanted to see.

Step Two. GO AHEAD AND STITCH. Continue stitching in one direction for as long as you want. You can go by rows or by solid blocks. (here, I'm doing 3 rows...hence a "block". Always picture in your mind that you’re creating nice neat vertical lines in the back. (Go ahead and peek at your back if you want... we're all stitching learners here).  After you’ve done your first layer, you can now go back and cross over. When you’re done, lookit the back of your cloth.  Nice and neat. 
I basically went like this: TOP ROW: from UP lower left hole DOWN upper right hole. The UP lower left hole then DOWN upper right hole. Until I finish my first row. SECOND ROW (since I'm going towards the left now) I start UP Upper Right hole then Down Lower left hole... and so on and so forth. This should be easy for those who've already stitched before. If you're really just starting.. umm... try just copying this. 

Ok, now you're done. 

Now this is where we do the TUCKING AWAY. 

Step Three: INSPECT YOUR CLOTH. Check your cloth... there are usually lines that are vertical and horizontal threads... WE are going to pay close attention to the VERTICAL threads. The ones that go like this III (not the ones that go ==). Insert your needle through your stitch, under the III threads and out the other stitch. Then gently pull it through.  You're basically, TUCKING AWAY underneath the threads of your CLOTH and not just your STITCHES. 
Tuck under your stitcher and the vertical strands of your cloth.

Gently pull your needle and thread through. Then look for the next vertical (it should be above or below...next to your first initial tuck-away).

See? I'm tucking through the nearest top vertical cloth threads.

Again, gently pull it through.

Went back down a bit to the nearest vertical strands and tucked away there.

Again, gently pull it through. You can't see your 'crossing overs' in the back now, right? 3 tuck aways is good enough to anchor your thread.
Now it's time to end things. Get your scissors and snip CLOSEST to the base as possible (nearest the cloth) without snipping off the stitches you made. After which, ta-da! Step away and enjoy the fact you made a neat back! 
Snip as close as possible to the base without damaging your stitches

Enjoy your neat back
And here's your front. 

Now this is the basics. Those of you who are experts should've grasped the fact by now that in order to have a neat back, you're going to have to travel underneath vertical cloth threads until you get to the place you want to stitch at. You're essentially, TUCKING AWAY your travelling thread going up and down as you go. It's a bit of a waste of thread...  BUT! You get a neat back out of it.

For confetti: You have to have painstaking patience... you just take a small length of thread. Around 5 inches...and loop start on you single confetti then tuck away--- snip. Then do it again for the next stray confetti. As I said, it's a bit of a waste of thread..but if your target is a neat back, this is the way to go I think. 

Heck, I belong to the mentality of I-don't-care-what-my-back-looks-like-if-I'm-framing-it. But if I'm going to make tiny bookmarks or pouches where the back of my cloth can be seen...this is a good thing to know. 

I'm still learning... it's an ongoing stitchy journey. Come travel with me. 


Melinda said...

This was very clear - the instructions made so much sense, and the pictures were great. Thanks much for sharing

SoCal Debbie said...

That's beautiful. I never would have thought of that. But I want to see the front after you do the tuck-away. Is the tail of floss showing behind the X's in the front? Your pics were perfectly clear. Great job!

ArtsyFartsy Panda said...

Thanks for the reminder Debbie. I'm posting a pic of the front right now. It's really a good way of keeping the back clean. I thank heaven that Honey Refe took the time to teach us. :) Glad I'm able to pass in on. :)

Vicky L said...

Thank you for reposting the link on faxebook. Your instructions were very good and I did learned how to loop in front. I don't worry about my backs too much.