Split Stitch & Split Back Stitch Tutorial

split stitch & split back stitch
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The Split Stitch vs. The Split Back Stitch

It’s time for another simple embroidery stitch tutorial!

We’re going to focus on the split stitch and split back stitch. I want to cover both at the same time because they look very similar to each other and begin basically the same way, but they have a couple of differences worth mentioning.

Both of these stitches start off with a single seed stitch (which is basically a small straight stitch) that is then split in the middle by the next stitch. Oh my! That was kind of a mouthful!

The steps are repeated and eventually resemble a chain (although different from the chain stitch which doesn’t split any thread). They are wonderful to use for outlines as well as fills. You can pretty much use any stitch that is used for outlines to fill in shapes actually!

Let’s learn how to make both so you can discover what makes them different. Before we do, let me mention that it’s much easier to create both stitches if you use an even number of threads.

Using an even number of threads will help you split them evenly which will make everything look smoother. Using 2, 4, or 6 strands of thread would be perfect!

Here we go!

Steps for the Split Stitch

Come up to the top of your fabric, then push your needle to the back a small distance away to create a seed stitch.

red thread making a seed stitch
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After you create your seed stitch push your needle up through the middle of your stitch. Try to separate the strands evenly.

This can get a little tricky since you can’t really see the underside of your fabric. I’ll show you a trick in just a bit.

needle coming up through the middle of a stitch
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Next, pull your needle fully through, then move up a little distance and push your needle through to the back of the fabric.

red thread returning to the back
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Remember when I said it can get a little tricky trying to split your thread evenly? If you have any trouble with it then don’t pull your thread all the way through.

Instead, leave a little bit of thread on top, split your thread, then push your needle through so it’s standing between them.

Doing it this way makes it much easier to divide your thread evenly so you won’t have to finagle your needle around from below.

thread on top is divided in half with a needle coming up between in from below
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Next, hold your needle in place as you pull the rest of the thread to the back.

needle coming up between the second stitch
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Pull your needle & thread all the way through to the top of your fabric.

red thread pulled through the second stitch
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Repeat the steps until you’re happy with the length of your thread.

To end your stitch, you’ll want to come up through the middle of your very last stitch…

end of the split stitch
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Then push your needle through at the very end of your stitch.

Adding a tie stitch to the end of the split stitch
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Steps for the Split Back Stitch

Create one seed stitch.

red seed stitch
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Bring your needle up a short distance away from your short stitch…

Then go back to the seed stitch and push your needle through the middle.

thread coming up a stitch length away from first stitch and needle going through the center of 1st stitch
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So with the split back stitch you’ll approach splitting your thread from above the fabric and once you pull your needle all the way through it will look a lot like your split stitch:

2 split back stitches
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Repeat these steps until you’re happy with the length. To end the stitch, push your needle up through the very end of your stitch:

needle and thread at the end of the split back stitch
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Then push your needle through the middle of the very last stitch.

tying down the end of the split back stitch
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And there is your split back stitch. As you may have noticed, the split back stitch is really a combination of the split stitch and the back stitch.

How the Split Stitch & Split Back Stitch Differ on the Back

When you take a look at both stitches from the front, they really do look very much the same. If you turn your fabric over, you’ll notice a difference right away.

Back of hoop. Split stitch is less bulky than the split back stitch
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The split stitch uses a lot less thread and is not as bulky as the back split stitch. If you’re low on thread this might help you make a decision about which of these two stitches you may want to use. You might also like the back of your embroidery to look nice and neat.

But, the split back stitch does have an advantage, and that is the fact that it’s easier to split the thread. When you’re splitting your thread from above you can see what you’re doing versus poking around the back and trying to find the thread you want to split. You might prefer that.

Each stitch can create some really nice lines, thick and thin, and I like them both but I do use the back split stitch more. Try them and see what you think!

Split Stitch & Split Back Stitch Video Tutorial

You can find all of my stitch tutorial in my stitches library so take a peek if you want more!

❤️ Happy stitching!

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split stitch & split back stitch