Split Stitch & Split Back Stitch Tutorial

split stitch and split back stitch in orange

Split Stitch vs Split Back Stitch

Table of Contents

These two simple embroidery stitches, the split stitch and split back stitch look pretty much alike, and even at close range there really isn’t any difference. You could argue that they’re basically the same stitch… (tō-mā-tō) and (tō-mah-tō), and I would agree. The real difference other than the method is that one uses much more thread than the other, but let me show you how to make the split stitch and split back stitch first.

Both of these stitches look like braids and start off with a single straight stitch (aka seed stitch). Each stitch after that will return to the previous stitch (just like the back stitch) and split it through the middle so if you want both sides of your thread to look even it’s important to use an even number of strands. I used 6 strands for this embroidery tutorial.

The split stitch and split back stitch can be used in a similar fashion as the chain stitch and create lovely lines and fills.

Split Stitch

  • Create a small stitch.
  • Come up from below the fabric and split the small stitch in the middle & pull through.

straight stitch with a needle coming up through the middle from below

This can get a little tricky since you can't really see the underside of your fabric. I’ll show you a trick as I make another stitch:

  • Return to the back a stitch length away but this time, keep the stitch a bit loose on top and separate the thread so each side has the same number of strands.
  • Push needle up between the split, at the end of the previous stitch.
  • Tighten the loose stitch from the back if you’d like (this part is optional),
  • Then pull you your needle through.
  • Repeat steps until you’re happy with the length.

To end your stitch, you'll want to come up through the middle of your very last stitch. Then push your needle through at the very end of your stitch.

ending the split stitch

Split Back Stitch

Where the split stitch approaches the previous stitch from below the fabric, the split back stitch approaches the previous stitch from above the fabric.

  • Create one straight stitch, then come up a stitch length away.
  • Use your needle to separate the thread down the middle of the previous stitch.
  • Return to the back then repeat the steps.

needle going through a seed stitch

To end the stitch, come up at the very end of your stitch, then push your needle through the middle of the very last stitch.

ending the split back stitch

Which Uses More Thread?

back of the split stitch and split back stitc 

Turn your embroidery hoop over and you’ll notice a big difference. The split stitch is on top & split back stitch is on the bottom.

It’s easier to split the thread down the middle using the split back stitch, but it uses a lot more thread. If you’re short on a specific color that you need you can opt to use the split stitch.

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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