Long and short stitch lesson

Long and short stitch lesson

I guess many of us have experienced the “Wow!” moment when we saw beautiful needlepainting pieces? Some of these works are just so gorgeous it takes your breath away! Needlepainting is a very intricate technique which requires a ton of practice, but you can master it even if you don't have good drawing and painting skills. The one thing, though, that you need for sure is a good understanding of how long and short stitch works. And that's what our lesson today is about :)

Don't be scared


I know that many stitchers are afraid of long and short stitch because it seems so difficult and tough. Well, it has its difficulties, indeed. I wouldn't call it a piece of cake. But it's not something to be afraid of. It is something that needs to be trained, the same way as with any other stitch and embroidery technique.

As for me, long and short stitch is on the same level of difficulty as satin stitch. The way they are worked are entirely different, but both have their peculiarities and certain sides that require a lot of practice to get it right.

That being said, still, long and short stitch is really fun! I mean it. It's really fun to see how the colors blend and create together something unique!

So, if you are holding yourself from trying it, just because you think it is “too difficult for you”, or you “don't have a talent”, or any other excuse you find for yourself, just take a deep breath and make the first step: take your hoop, fabric, needle and 3-4 favorite shades of thread.

And then follow the steps below ;)

How to work long and short stitch?


My favorite shape for practicing long and short stitch is a petal. Because it allows to practice layers which are not just plain horizontal but have an “arc” shape. Plus the direction of thread is also not 100% vertical – your stitches are always slanted a bit.

Before you start it's always a good idea to draw a grid as a guideline for your stitching.

Long and short stitch lesson

For the next step it is common to outline the shape with a line stitch. I usually use split stitch, but stem stitch will fit as well. It will make your shape a bit raised and will make it easier to achieve a crisp edge.

Long and short stitch lesson

Next step is optional, but recommended for beginners. You can make the guidelines from the actual stitches.

Long and short stitch lesson

And then start filling in the gaps between them with long and short stitches. My “short” stitches here end on the line in the grid...

Long and short stitch lesson

…. and my “long” ones end in the middle of the next layer.

Long and short stitch lesson

Your stitches don't have to always end in the same place though. You can see that I make my edge a bit ragged – the length of stitches varies a lot.

Long and short stitch lesson

After the upper layer is finished....

Long and short stitch lesson

...it's time to start with the next one. I make a lot of long stitches of approximately the same length – they are my guidelines.

Long and short stitch lesson

Then I fill in the gaps between them varying the length of my stitches.

Long and short stitch lesson

The same way I stitch the third layer.

Long and short stitch lesson

With the last layer I do the same thing: stitch the longer guidelines first, and finish the edges on the sides.

Long and short stitch lesson

Then fill in the gaps.

Long and short stitch lesson

Tips


1) My first and main tip is to look at those who mastered this technique and shares their knowledge. Trish Burr is, probably, the first one you should learn from. I strongly recommend her book “Long and short stitch embroidery. A collection of flowers”. I am a happy owner of one and I can't express how insightful and inspirational it is! It has a lot of diagrams, tips, chewing out the process for you in a very detailed manner. There is also a bunch of tutorials for practice. Well, it's not a book review post, so I will end it here. But, trust me, buying this book is worth every penny!

2) Lots of diagrams on long and short stitch out there show that you should start the stitches for a new layer in the same place where the stitches from the upper level end. You know, in the same “hole”. It didn't work for me, the holes become loose and it just doesn't look right. So, I actually often split the stitches from the upper row. Most often I split them, sometimes I come up in between of two upper stitches, and very rarely I indeed come up where the upper stitch ended – in case I'm sure that it will look okay.

3) Stitching guidelines is optional, of course. Actually, they can be a pain sometimes, if the tension is not right. But if the stitch went loose, you can pierce it when you stitch the lower level and it will bring it into place ;)

4) I really recommend making the edges of your layers a bit ragged and keep the length of stitches inconsistent. I think this makes the blending a bit more natural. But that's something that depends on each individual's taste I guess :)

5) Practice, practice, practice. There's no such stitch that won't give in if you put enough effort into practicing it. Remember, that even the needlepainting masters have practiced a lot to get where they are now. So don't be discouraged, you can totally get there too!


Any other questions? Feel free to write in the comments below!

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