I am so excited to introduce you to long and short stitches.
Long and short stitches are a beautiful technique that is a type of satin stitch, used to fill in larger shapes with a nice and even texture. This stitch is great in place of satin stitch, because when satin stitch is used to cover a large area, it can leave the threads looking a bit wobbly. And if that is something you don't like, then long and short stitches are a great solution!
How these stitches work, is that they are a series of stitches stacked on top of each other, which will overall create quite a smooth effect.
So how do you do this stitch?
Choose an edge of your shape. Now you're going to do a series of stitches in the first row that alternate between stitches which are longer and shorter length.
How this works, is that the first stitch you do will be longer, then the next one will be shorter, and so on!
Now keep following this process, right along the section of the shape that you're wanting to cover.
Stack your next row on top of the first row. The second row can actually be stitches that are all the same length, but because they are stacked on top of the first row, you still get that staggered effect.
Take care to start each new stitch right where the previous one ended, so you don’t end up with gaps in between.
Keep stacking rows of stitches until your shape is filled in. You will probably need to adjust the length of your stitches as you fill in your shape, depending on its dimensions.
This stitch definitely does take a bit of practice to do well. You might find it quite challenging to get all of your stitches placed in the same direction. But once you get the hang of it, it's quite satisfying.
The idea of this stitch is to fill in an area with a textured look that is smooth overall, so you actually don’t need to be consistent with the length of stitch. For example, you could do this stitch perfectly with alternating long and short stitches that are all matching lengths. But I usually end up with a mix that creates a staggering effect, and that is totally fine. Progress over perfection right?
I do find that long and short stitches are quite a time-consuming embroidery stitch to do. But hey, we're not in embroidery for a quick fix. It's a slow craft, and that's all part of the fun and relaxation! Because of this, I would suggest you don't be too picky with your stitches. Just focus on building colour over the area you want to fill in. No one is going to be looking too closely at your individual stitches!
You should also consider the thickness of the thread you use when doing this stitch, as this will also affect the look of the embroidery. I typically use six strands of floss if I want to cover an area quite quickly - but it does create a chunkier look. Whereas if you use fewer strands, for example, two, it will create a much smoother effect. But it will take a lot longer to build up and cover space. Have a play and see what you enjoy stitching with!
I hope you feel so much more confident making beautiful long and short stitches that fill up sections of your embroidery. I know this stitch takes some getting used to, but you will keep getting better the more you keep going!
So there you have it, all my favourite tips and knowledge you need to make lovely long and short stitches. Many embroidery patterns use long and short stitches for flowers and petals, so I'm so excited for you to learn this stitch and make some wonderful modern embroidery creations with it.
Here is an example of Long and Short Stitch in one of my patterns - Pot Plant Shelfie. See how the middle pot is filled with a beautiful even effect? That's Long and Short stitch!
This course takes you through all the beginner techniques and knowledge you need to make your first beginner pattern, Little Wildflower Meadow! Plus, it includes a beautiful second pattern, Blooming Lovely, which is a fantastic pattern to practice your newfound skills.
I would totally recommend this course, as it covers many more stitch techniques than this blog, and you can also do it at your own place. Plus, this is a great way to hold yourself accountable for making some me-time for yourself and starting on your path to becoming a modern embroidery superstar.