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Long and Short Stitch

Long and Short Stitch is a great filler stitch - it’s good for creating textured block colour. It’s also the stitch used in needle painting, to gradually blend colours together! It's sometimes known as Brick Stitch, due to the effect made by the thread.


The middle line here is a rough guide of where the colour will change - if you’re using one colour, ignore this line!

The first example here is with a rectangle; for different shapes, a similar process applies - but for these, it helps to draw out a centre line. Rather than all stitches being parallel, they should angle toward a centre point - this will help the stitch to flow around curved shapes.

For this video, I used 2 strands of thread - but for a more delicate blended effect, 1 strand of thread works really well.

  1. First, stitch out a few medium length guide stitches at one edge. For this shape, they should be parallel. Once these are done, work your way along the line: fill in the gaps with parallel stitches of random lengths - some shorter, some longer. You don’t want to create a uniform or organised effect - the more varied, the better.
  2. Once the first row of stitching is done, move on to the next row! Come up roughly in the middle of the first line of stitching - it’s fine to split the thread and come up in the middle of previous stitches. Start to stitch another row - again, the more varied and random-looking the stitch length, the better.  Bring some of the stitches down below the colour-change line, and keep some slightly above.
  3. If you’re using just one colour, continue building lines of stitching down the shape. Otherwise, it’s time to add the next colour! I like to start on the opposite side of the shape and work towards the centre.  Do a similar process - stitch out a rough line of parallel guide stitches.
  4. Then, fill in the gaps with more stitches of varying lengths, creating a random effect. You can start to bring some of the longer stitches up into the other colour. 
  5. When the first row is done, move up into the second - this middle point is where most of the blending will happen. Bring your second colour further into the first colour, crossing over the colour-change line - you can go much further into the other colour than I have here!  Again, it’s fine to split thread and come up or down through previous stitches - this can help the blending effect.


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