Long and short stitching by sections


needlepainting tips

Spoiler: the finished piece at the end of the post! :)

We all know that one of the most important factors for pretty long and short stitching is to have the correct direction of stitches, right?

And as easy as it may sound, it stays one of the biggest struggles for beginners.

Most of the time when you send me pictures asking for help and tips, I can see that the technique for long and short stitching is pretty much correct. It may require just a bit more practice, but it's clear when you've got the hang of it.

However, the direction of stitches may be a little off.

Personally, I would say there is one big factor that leads to successful maintaining of stitches' direction:

You've got to have an eye for that.

Well... it is what it is.

That “vision” will develop with time as long as you practice. And there are some extra hacks on how to boost it (like practicing with pencil drawings, as I mention in the course).

You also have a whole array of instruments to make the process easier for you even if you didn't develop that “spidey sense” yet:

  • You can draw the guiding lines right on the fabric

  • You can work guiding stitches

  • And, ultimately, you can split the process by sections.

The main confusion with stitches direction, from what I remember as a beginner, starts with having a complete “wall” of stitches on one side of the element and the empty space on the other side. Guding stitches do help, but even between the stitches the amount of empty space may be enough to cause confusion.

So let's decrease that empty space and split it into several sections.

I found myself using this method unconsciously a while ago and realized that it really helps with erasing any uncertainty.

needlepainting tips

Basically, what we need to do is to make a guiding stitch some distance away from where we are. Then, split it with one more stitch approximately in the middle. If you're confused about the direction of a guiding stitch, pull the thread downwards slightly like I did in the image, so that it is exactly in between the two guiding lines. Then, make a stitch.

needlepainting tips

Then, you can make one more stitch in the middle, splitting the nearest section in two again.

needlepainting tips

You can continue the same way until you naturally fill every section. Because with each step we practically make a new guiding stitch, we maintain the correct direction until the end.

needlepainting tips

Naturally, you can continue doing so with every next row of stitches.

This method is actually what I usually do in my long and short stitching process. I don't really like the empty space on one side and prefer to make several stitches ahead to maintain the correct direction.

There's one thing to be careful of, though!

needlepainting tips

Beware of the gaps between the stitches! There should be none, otherwise it will be tougher to start the next row.

Hope this helps!


The ultimate long and short stitching guide has the links to the lesson and all the other needlepainting tips ( which you can also find under this tag).

This recent freebie gives a nice step by step process of long and short stitching, many of you liked it.

More instructions, tips and exercises in my course Needlepainting for beginners and basically every pattern in the shop.

And the finished piece from today's post:

Stay safe, everyone!


  1. This is very helpful - thank you!
    Barbara H.

  2. Piękne są Twoje prace! Podziwiam Twoje wyczucie i styl:-) Pozdrawiam wszystkiego dobrego

  3. Hermoso tu trabajo como siempre! Gracias por tus enseñanzas Amina. Abrazos desde Córdoba, Argentina.

  4. I would love to beable to buy this pattern and instructions. Have you considered selling them on your website?


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