Backstitch used to be used for sewing stronger seams than running stitch.
Now used mainly as a decorative stitch.

See separate post on
Starting and finishing hand stitching

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Backstitch

”backstitch”
image source

Here’s a photo tutorial from Sewing at About.com

Before sewing machines were available, backstitch was used for seams as it’s stronger than running stitch.
In fact, it was used so much it was called the ‘stitching stitch’.

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Combination stitch

Running stitch with an occasional back stitch.
Easy to do if you’re taking several stitches on the needle at once. Just start each new needle move with a back stitch.

”combination
image source

top – front, bottom – back
The upper line of stitching is basting

Adds strength to running stitches, but much quicker than making every stitch a back stitch.

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Links available April 2014

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