Needlepainting tips part 12: more layers = better shading?

needlepainting tips

Today I offer you a new case study!

So if you ever wondered about the correlation between the number of layers (rows) on long and short stitching and the quality of blending, today's post might answer some of your questions,

needlepainting tips

The task when stitching these 3 shapes was to make a transition from yellow to blue.

The first example has only 2 colors: yellow and blue.

The second example has 3 colors: yellow → green → blue

And the third example has 7 colors: yellow → 2 mid shades of yellow-green → green → 2 mid shades of aqua green → blue.


My opinion

None of the examples is worse than another, they are just 3 different situations and each has weak sides and strong sides.

long and short stitching tips

1. When you have an abrupt transition from one color to another, I think it can look very powerful and catchy. For example, when I showed my Mom all three examples the first one caught her eyes immediately and she said it was her favorite.

One tip for sich a scenario would be to increase variety in the length of your stitches. You might want to have literal “spikes” there that stick out a lot and then add shorter stitches (still of various lengths) in between.

long and short stitch tips

2. Well, if I'm completely honest, this is my least favorite example among these ones. But just because of the colors! I would say, that when you are ready to use only 3-4 colors, it is better to avoid transitions like these: yellow → green → blue, red → orange → yellow and so on. Basically, avoid 3 neighboring hues on the color wheel.

Instead, I would suggest to either go for lights (like pink → light pink → lighter pink) or shadows (like green → dark green → very dark green). Or take very close colors and build a bridge between them (yellow → yellow-green → green)

long and short stitching tips

3. When you want a really smooth transition between colors that are not neighbors on color wheel, you will need 5-7 colors.

That means that each row of color will not have THAT much space (although it will depend on the shape), and that means that you don't have as much freedom in your long and short stitching. Making “spikes” like in previous examples will hardly be possible (again, depends on the shape).

As a solution, you can stick to what I call “bricky” long and short stitching. It's when you have two levels of stitches – one is long, one is short – and you alternate between them. When you are limited in space, this will come in handy. Although I would recommend to try and add variety to your best ability.

Well, even if you don't, the fun part is that these 7 colors lumped together in a small space are likely to “eat up” some mistakes and imperfections. So don't be scared to increase the number of your rows if your long and short stitching is “not perfect” yet!

What do you think? :)

long and short stitching tips


  1. Thank you for this post Amina! I came across this when researching how to improve my needlepainting. I think all three designs have different strengths and weaknesses, like you say. The first one looks modern and bright, whereas the last one has that beautiful soft romantic look. I suppose it depends on the look you're going for.

    1. Thank you, Katie!

      I totally agree with you, we just need to know how to use these examples at the right time and the right place :)

  2. Thank you for your explanation, it's very helpful as I'm just starting that sort of stitch. Have avoided it up until now in my embroidery. Many thanks. Shirley x

  3. I read your article deeply and this is really an amazing post and you have described everything about embroidery with efficiency. Get professional custom embroidery digitizing service with prompt turnaround.


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