Fixing a tangle on the backside & leaving no trace

Fixing a tangle on the backside & leaving no trace

You know these times when you are happily stitching your heart out, maybe humming some pleasant tune along the way, feeling so content that your work is going great, and then you look at the backside and catch an ugly tangle staring at you from there? Happens every other time with me.


Why does it happen?


I can name two main factors causing such unfortunate knots on the backside.

First, the thread might be too prone to tangling. If you notice that as you are stitching, your embroidery floss starts twisting on itself and small knots start appearing (on the front side) as you stitch, then it is time to un-thread the needle and do some thread gymnastics. Let the thread hang freely, stroke it gently with your fingers. Let it rest for a minute, it's probably tired right now :)

Read more tips on how to avoid thread tangling and take precautions from the very beginning of embroidery process. Your thread likes good care, so be sure to show some love to it!

Secondly, another reason to ugly tangles at the backside – simple carelessness of a stitcher. I'm not really scolding anyone, because I myself struggle with this problem all the time. You know, sometimes you get so absorbed into stitching that you forget about your surroundings? And vice versa. Sometimes, you are more attentive to your surroundings (listening to something, talking to someone, watching TV, etc.) that you do the stitching on autopilot without putting too much thought into it?

Let me tell you, this second state is very dangerous.

All the wrong things come out of it, including the thread tangling on the backside. The worst part is that, if you actually keep track of your backside, it is easy to spot the problem on time and unpick your last stitches, so that the knot on the backside is gone. But if you spot it too late, chances are, you'll probably be too lazy to unpick so much of your work to get back to that ugly tangle.

At least that's how it is with me.

How do you fix it?


Well, here are some good news! Fixing the ugly tangles at the backside is usually quite easy. Let's see how you can do it.

Fixing a tangle on the backside & leaving no trace

So, this was my tangle, that I didn't notice as I worked the leaves for the Cecelia Rose stitch along.
I could have picked out my stitches to get back there and start all over. But, nah... I wasn't in the mood to redo so much of work. Instead, I decided to just fix it and hide all the evidences.

Fixing a tangle on the backside & leaving no trace

The first thing you need to do is to untangle the knot. Most of the time it will be quite easy to do, just use scissors, needle or a pencil and pull the thread to unwind it.

Fixing a tangle on the backside & leaving no trace

After that, cut it in half and tie the ends up. For the safety, you can make two knots, like I did here.

Fixing a tangle on the backside & leaving no trace

Then we hide the evidences – slide the needle under the nearest stitches and pull through.

Fixing a tangle on the backside & leaving no trace

Now we only have the two ends which we carefully snip off. No ugly tangles or knots at the backside anymore!

Now, you might be thinking, who cares at all whether you have a tangle at the backside or not? Not like there will be an inspection or something...

And you're right. It all depends. If you're not bothered by knots and tangles on the backside of your fabric, then you can just leave it be there.

I talked about the backside before and voiced some thoughts on how the attitude of stitchers to the backside of embroidery has changed with time.

Earlier, a messy backside was a complete no-no, and stitchers, when they met, they would actually pay more attention to the backside and how skilfully the stitcher managed to hide starting and ending of thread.

Today the mood shifted so drastically, that a messy backside became somewhat of a pride and proof of a passionate process of stitching. 

I'm still in between these two sides. I pay attention to the backside and I try to avoid making it too messy, especially if I'm going to frame it later. Because all the knots and thread lumps might be noticeable after stretching and mounting the fabric on canvas.

Otherwise, if I'm stitching something lighthearted, not really serious, then I can slack off and close my eyes on any imperfections at the backside. So, in the end it's all up to you, whether you want to fix the tangles or leave them. 

But at the very least, now you know how to get rid of them if you decide to keep the backside neat. 😉 


On another note, I saw some really nice results on Instagram under the #ceceliarose_sa hashtag and they made me so happy! @hmariane and @royces_hub, you are doing great, guys!  Hope to see more and can't wait to see the finished roses!