The Ultimate Guide to Long and Short stitch

As you probably know, I am very fond of the embroidery technique called long and short stitching, and I hope more and more people fall in love with it and see that it is actually not that scary and not that hard.

Well, it is not that easy either and it requires some time and patience to get friendly with it. But it is totally worth it, isn't it?

By today I actually have plenty of material on this blog about long and short stitch as well as needle painting. So I decided to gather it all up in this post for easy access!

Save it to Pinterest or your browser bookmarks because if I ever write something new on the topic of needle painting or long and short stitch, I will be adding it here :)

Long and short stitch tutorial

Let's start with the basics. I recommend you going to the long and short stitch tutorial and trying to replicate every step from there. There are some tips at the end of the post, so make sure you check them out as well.

Personally, I believe the two crucial points for your long and short stitch to take off are:

  • keeping a consistent direction of stitches
  • varying the "levels" where you start your stitches 

When there is a certain inconsistency in the direction of your stitches, it usually stands out and breaks the general “flow” of your stitching. Unless, of course, you make a conscious decision to break that flow for a certain artistic purpose.

As for the second point... In my personal opinion (which kind of differs from many other artists) is that it is not the length of the stitches per se that should be varying. But rather, the “levels” at which you start the stitches.

And this is something I have learnt on my own and found it much easier, to be honest. I speak about it in more detail in my online needle painting course since it is easier to explain in the video while actually showing you how it works.

But in short, you can, in fact, keep the length of your stitches the same or they can end at the same level. It doesn't really change anything. The most important is where you start these stitches. And for your blending to be smoother, you need at least 2, but better 3-4 “levels” where you start these stitches. And then make them as long as you like, just make sure they end significantly below the mark for the next row (I will link a separate post on that below, called “getting your rows right").

Now, suppose you already worked the little petal from the tutorial.

Congratulations if yours looks the same!

If it doesn't that's totally fine, we all need some time to reach that point. I mean, I wrote that tutorial not at the beginning of my embroidery journey, you know what I mean?

But let's be real, an exercise like that is quite an isolated practice. The real questions and issues will arise when you actually use it in your practice. And for your practice to go smooth, I have prepared a series of needle painting tips that I will also list below.

Long and short stitch practice

If you need some ideas on where to actually get this long and short stitching practice while not feeling too lost, I have several Stitch Alongs already completed and ready for you to start whenever you want!

The benefit of these Stitch Alongs is that you have detailed step-by-step pictures for virtually every stage of working a design so the visual support is quite strong. (By the way, if you have any suggestions for a new Stitch Along, feel free to drop your ideas in the comments)

I will list all the current Stitch-Alongs from this blog in the order of difficulty (from the easiest to the toughest):

If you want more guidance in your learning and prefer video material over pictures, make sure to check out the Needle painting for beginners course. There we work special exercises imitating various realistic situations you can encounter in long and short stitching and all of the material is presented in detailed video lessons.

Long and short stitch tips

And, like I said, while you start practicing your long and short stitching, inevitably, there will be new questions and confusing moments. I'm trying to cover them little by little and I made a special tag for these posts: needle painting tips.

You can go to the tag and check them out there, but for better convenience, I will list all of the posts here (and I will be adding the new ones here too, that's why I encourage you to save it):

  1. Color blending tips (color theory and case study on which color combinations work better)
  2. Leaves practice (another case study on color combinations)
  3. Levels of long and short stitch (a case study on the “levels” of starting your stitches)
  4. Diagonal shading (step by step guide)
  5. Shading in patches (step by step guide)
  6. Shading on shading, is it worth it? (contemplating on one of the ways of multiple-row long and short stitching and looking at the pros and cons)
  7. Must watch Youtube tutorials (I wonder if you noticed how much I LOVE visual learning)
  8. Importance of correct direction (a case study with examples and tips)
  9. Filling a shape with long and short stitching (it can be used as a filler in a solid color too)
  10. Secret behind getting your rows right (how to make sure that your rows will correspond to the pattern)
  11. Youtube video of a process
  12. More layers = better shading? (does the number of rows and colors affect the result of your shading?)

So here's your guide!

I know this pile of information can be overwhelming but don't get discouraged, okay? Just learn it step by step and continue your practice. You will reach your goal as long as you move even if it is an inch a day.

And, most importantly, enjoy! :)


  1. I thank you too. Your stitching is perfection and instructions are easy to follow. One can see how much you love to stitch.

    1. Thank you, Carol! Your words are so precious! ❤️


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