Needlepainting tips part 8: Importance of correct direction

Needlepainting tips

Before we start, an important announcement!

I'm having a SALE in my Etsy shop: everything is down 15% until the end of March. Hurry up to make your purchase, especially if you already have my designs in the cart!


Now, let's get back to the topic :)

When you work long and short stitch, one of your main goals should be the correct direction of your stitches. As long as you achieve that, the surface of your stitching will be smooth, and the blending will be easier.

Needlepainting tips

Here are two examples. On the left is what my long and short stitch looks like nowadays, and where I'm paying attention to the direction of stitches. On the right is the result of me channeling my former confused beginner self, where I would easily put stitches in the wrong direction.

To get my point across better, here are both of the examples with “guiding lines” drawn over the stitching.

Needlepainting tips

Needlepainting tips

Take a closer look yourself, first, and try to see the difference in stitching. {ay attention to the direction of my stitches in both examples.

Needlepainting tips

Now, a large part of the improvement is due to practicing, of course. But even when you are a beginner and don't have big baggage of worked long and short stitching, there are still some tips for you!

Tips for correct direction of stitches


1. Drawing guiding lines

Needlepainting tips

First of all, you can draw the guiding lines right on the ground fabric. Often times, authors of embroidery designs already provide you with directions of stitches in their diagrams. But you can also draw it yourself.

I usually draw them myself with a standard pencil because it leaves me with more freedom – I can draw as many guiding lines as I need. And sometimes, the way I “feel” the shape, would be slightly different than how the author sees it so I may draw them differently. And I think that's valid too. If in your mind the “strokes” of stitches lie differently, I would recommend following your guts. It would be easier for you to work because otherwise, you would have a slight dissonance between what you see on the diagram and in your mind.

2. Guiding stitches

Needlepainting tips

When you gain a bit more experience, you will probably start choosing only one: either drawing guiding lines, or working guiding stitches. However, in the beginning, you might make use of both, actually. The more detailed is your “planning” of stitching, the less confused you will be about the direction of stitches.

Needlepainting tips

Then you start filling the space between the guiding stitches. You can make the guiding stitches for each of the rows of long and short stitching.

Another way of working guiding stitches is to use running stitching as your guiding lines. It works just as well. Except, that it would be more convenient to work in 1 color, of course. And if you plan to use several colors to create a blending effect, that might be a problem.

Otherwise, if you're using long and short stitch as a filler in 1 color, or if your blending is more “vertical” and you don't mind throwing some colors here and there, then there is no harm at all.

3 Pulling the working thread to find the right direction

Needlepainting tips

When you are confused about where you should insert the needle for your stitch to lie perfectly in line with the one from the previous row, you can pull the working end of thread and then insert the needle at the suitable point.

Needlepainting tips

I constantly use this method, it's like a norm. And because of that I don't always draw guiding lines on the fabric. This way of pulling thread is quite enough.

However, there can be different situations. This method largely suits the situation when you need to lay your stitches along straight lines. But the shape could have some curves, it can be round or oval, and then this method would be less helpful.

Nevertheless, it is still a great habit to develop and make use of!

Needlepainting tips

So here is the finished result of the heart with “correct” direction of stitches.

How about seeing the process of working the other one?

Needlepainting tips

Here is me, not using any guiding lines, but just working some stitches over the outline. At first glance, it might not seem too bad. But if you look closer and try to continue the lines of the stitches in your mind, you would notice how some of them are bound to cross. Which is not very good.

Needlepainting tips

When you start working the second row, the problem becomes more evident. You see how the direction of stitches is changing all the time?

Needlepainting tips

Well, I put myself a goal to complete the shape no matter what, while still imagining myself a confused beginner stitcher, and here is the result. Take a closer look at the stitches' direction to understand the difference with another heart.

I mean, it actually isn't that bad. The shape is complete and the colors are there. If you look at it from a distance you might not even notice any problem. But there is still room for improvement too.


So, I hope today's tips will be helpful in your next project! Check all the previous posts under the tag “needlepainting tips” for more advice!

11 comments

  1. Un très grand merci pour ce tutoriel. J'ai toujours eu du mal avec ce point mais avec votre aide je vais recommencer et je suis sure que cela va beaucoup m'aider. Merci encore pour tout ce que vous partagez gentiment avec vos fidèles lectrices.Bon WE et encore bravo Madame l'Artiste.

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  2. I'm just learning embroidery ... thanks so much for this it's been a revelation!

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  3. Thank you Amina. That was so helpful to see the right and wrong way to do long and short stitch

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  4. I love your blog ❤❤❤❤ thank you Amina!!!! Now I can improve my stitching. I'm reading all your entries! Greetings from Argentina

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  5. Me ha encantado encontrarme con tu blog. Ya lo tengo en favoritos ¿Me podrías decir que tipo de puntada has utilizado para hacer el contorno del corazón? Soy principiante pero me voy a animar a hacerlo. Gracias.

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  6. Great tutorial!Thank you for putting a 'wrong' way in for comparison as it really made the point. Will try a heart out for practice on a 'sew a little happiness everyday' sampler or an 'inchies' (although my version might be a 'two inchies'!)

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  7. Thanks a lot for this explanatory post and the step by step guidelines. This is incredibly helpful and gives a lot of confidence to give it a go! :)

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  8. Un énorme merci pour ces superbes explications, ça va beaucoup m'aider dans mes projets. Vous avez le sens de l'éducation et du partage. Bravo à vous! Et encore mille merci. Votre nouvelle élève.

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