How To Reverse On Sewing Machine

Learning to Reverse on a Sewing Machine

Reverse stitching is a simple but important sewing function that can heavily contribute to the overall sturdiness and longevity of a garment. As well as helping to secure the beginning and end of the seam and preventing unraveling, the ability to reverse on a sewing machine can also add attractive finishing touches to items.

An important part of the sewing process, learning how to reverse on a sewing machine requires a mix of skill, knowledge and practice.

Familiarise Yourself with Your Machine

Before attempting to reverse stitch on a sewing machine, it is important to familiarise yourself with the machine. When learning how to reverse on a sewing machine, it is best to use one you feel comfortable with and that you have used before. Check the instruction manual that came with your machine to be sure you understand all of the machine’s features and capabilities.

When purchasing a sewing machine, our experts recommend opting for an automatic locking stitch feature when stitch in reverse, as this will make the process easier later on.

Practice Basic Sewing and Reversing Techniques

Once you have familiarised yourself with your sewing machine and you understand how it works, you can start experimenting. Start by practising basic stitches and simple seams, slowly increasing the level of difficulty over time. This will help you develop and refine your technique, as well as getting you used to working with fabric.

When you can confidently create neat, straight seams, you can start to practice reversing on your machine. Reverse stitches are usually used for the beginnings and ends of seams, as well as for various decorative techniques.

How to Master Reverse Sewing

If your sewing machine has an automatic locking stitch feature, the process of reversing sewing is usually very easy. Take your fabric and set your machine to a basic stitch. Sew a few stitches normally and then press the reverse stitching button. Your machine will then automatically lock the stitches in place.

For machines without the automatic locking stitch feature, it can be more difficult to ensure the stitches are secured. Our experts suggest practicing reverse stitching on scrap fabric, slowly and carefully pulling the threads to the back of the fabric before knotting them off.

Choosing Your Stitch

The type of stitch that you use for reverse sewing is also important. Generally a backstitch is used, as it is stronger and makes the seam extra secure. If a unique look is desired, a more intricate stitch may be used.

Our experts suggest experimenting with a variety of stitches, as well as thread and needle sizes, to ensure you choose the right combination for your desired look.


Reverse stitching on a sewing machine is a useful skill that once mastered can be used to help add structure, strength and beauty to a variety of sewing projects. With time and practice, you can become a master at reverse stitching on your machine.

Practising on a Sewing Pattern

When attempting to learn how to reverse on a sewing machine, sewing experts recommend trying out simple sewing patterns such as cushion covers, pyjama bottoms and bags. Projects such as these will allow you to get used to the machine, the fabric and the stitch, as well as providing you with a useful finished item.

Before starting, be sure to read through the sewing pattern instructions and familiarise yourself with the fabrics and threads used. Lay out the cut fabric and assemble the pieces according to the instructions.

When you have put the pieces together, use a basic stitch to sew them together. Try to keep an even and consistent tension throughout the line of stitching, using the machine’s speed dial and foot pedal. As you approach the end of the seam, use the reverse stitch button on the machine to backstitch over a few stitches.

When you have finished the seam, unpick the machine stitches to remove the points and knot off the threads to secure the stitches.

Stitching Different Materials

Reverse stitching can be used on a variety of materials, from thick denim and leather to delicate silks and chiffons. With thicker fabrics such as denim, our experts suggest using a jeans foot on the machine, as this will increase the pressure on the fabric and reduce strain on the fabric and machine.

Select an appropriate stitch size and type for the fabric, and adjust the tension of the thread accordingly. Many sewing machines come with an adjustable foot pressure setting which can help to prevent damages to delicate fabrics.

When stitching on difficult fabrics, be sure to practice on scrap fabric first, making note of the necessary adjustments to your machine and technique.

Joining Seams with a Reverse Stitch

If you have a smaller seam that needs a stronger and more secure seam, our experts suggest using a reverse stitch. This is a more time consuming option because you have to sew the seams in their entirety twice.

Start by sewing the seam as normal, then take out the seam points and backstitch over the seam with a reverse stitch for extra strength. Doing this will help to keep the seam together for longer and also helps to provide a neater finish.

Decorating with Reverse Stitching

Once you feel comfortable with reverse stitching, you can start to research and experiment with decorative techniques. Many garments are decorated with reverse stitching; when done correctly, reverse stitching can look attractive and help to bring a garment to life.

Experts recommend experimenting with the stitch and thread sizes, fabrics, and different edge preparations to see the results. Have fun trying new methods and techniques, and don’t be afraid to try something different.

Technical Components of Reverse Stitching

The technical components of reverse stitching on a sewing machine also contribute to the overall quality of the result. Stitches that are too tight can cause puckering and a sharper tension can ensure the stitches are even, straight and securely fastened.

Generally experienced sewers are able to adjust their sewing machines accordingly, while novice sewers may find using an automatic tension one-step button helpful. It is also important to select the correct needle and thread size for the job.

Our experts also suggest regularly oiling the machine to keep it running smoothly. This is much easier for sewing machines with removable parts, as you can clean and oil the various components at the same as time.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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