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Topic: Long and Short Stitch  (Read 1000 times)
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« on: August 10, 2008 06:06:54 PM »

This is probably going to sound really silly. But I am terribly new to embroidery, so I have a lot to learn. I'm also really new to this site, but I'm loving it so far! Anyway, on to the question...

I am working on a pattern (one that's probably way past my ability level, but I'm stubborn) and it requires a long and short stitch for certain areas. Most of the areas are sort of circular, at least around the edges.  I've practiced the stitch several times on scrap pieces of fabric and even tried several times in the actual pattern I'm working on and for some reason it just does not work for me. So I'm wondering if any of you have any tips?

My main problem is that the stitches sometimes go crooked (slant instead of are straight up and down) and then the short stitches sometimes disappear under the long ones. Maybe I am making them too close together? 

I tried drawing straight horizontal lines across the patten, in the middle, so I can follow those and avoid making crooked stitches and that sort of worked, but what do you do when you get to a curved part of the pattern?  Sorry if I'm being confusing. The pattern I'm working on is a bird and leaf (?) from the lap quilt in the Doodle Stitching book.  I know that project is probably not for noobs like me, but so far I've done pretty good on the patchwork. My split stitch and satin stitch came out looking better than I thought it would, so I decided to keep going. But this long and short stitch is really giving me a hard time, so any tips would be appreciated. Mostly just need to know how to handle the curved edges, as the book only explains how to do the stitch along a straight line. Thanks for reading this!

P.S. I tried searching the forum for topics that already handled this issue, but I couldn't find anything. Either I didn't search well enough, or I'm just really bad at embroidery and am coming up with issues in stitches that aren't supposed to be hard! But if there already is a topic handling this, let me know!
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2008 09:41:50 PM »

Okay, it's been a while since I've done this sort of embroidery, but I'll try and explain it as I understand it.

Long & Short stitch is used to fill in large amounts of space. Satin stitch can be used for this as well, but satin stitch has some limitations: If the stitches are too long, the fabric will show through, and satin stitch REALLY doesn't handle 'fan' shapes very well - shapes where the line your needle emerges on is smaller/larger than the line your needles inserts into (if you get what I mean there.)

Long & short then has the advantage of being able to insert your needle almost wherever (provided you're still going in the same general 'direction' as all the other stitches) you want to fill in the gaps, or to get to the edges. Some of those stitches will disappear into or under each other - at least they do for me. I think my version looks fine.

Maybe... imagine you have a Sharpie, and a shape to colour in. You could do a lot of parallel lines next to each other (satin stitch), or you could use a lot of little lines in a hatching technique

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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2008 12:13:08 PM »

Hey, thanks a lot. Your post and the link are really helpful. I went ahead and kept trying on the piece I was originally struggling with when I posted this (I'm impatient), but I will use that link and your sharpie tip on the other 4 birds I have to do. I was able to come up with something I am content with, but it definitely isn't perfect. Far from it really. Here is a picture of what I was able to do after a bunch of redoing and undoing....


As you can see I really messed up in the tail area, as those stitches go in a different direction from the rest of the bird. But I am so sick of redoing that little bird, I am just going to leave it. Other than that I think he looks alright. I definitely learned a lot from it, and now I know how to do the other birds. It still doesn't look as perfect and awesome as other people can do, but I figure the more I do it the easier it'll get.  I really appreciate your help though, so thanks again!
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2008 12:26:30 PM »

I am totally new at this too, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But I recently used this stitch to fill in a very curvy space, almost like a cloud. I did learn that if I made the stitches too close together, they sort of got lost in each other. On the other hand, I occasionally left too much space between and had to add little filler stitches here and there. It took some practice before I figured out the right distance.

With the stitches getting slanted, I based my response on how it looked. In some cases, it wasn't that noticeable and just blended in as I added more stitches and rows. The ones that were really off, I just pulled back out and did it again, moving my needle a bit further over in the right direction. I think this probably takes some practice and patience, too, as well as some grace for the stitches that you just have to live with.

And for filling in curvy spaces, I kept with the pattern of the stitches and just filled in what was needed in the curved space. So maybe there wasn't room for the whole stitch in that space, but I'd do the part of the stitch that there was room for, if that makes sense. Maybe I could start the stitch in the right place but the curve cut off the place where I'd normally put the end of the stitch, so I'd just make it a shorter stitch. Or maybe I couldn't start it in the usual place, so I'd start it where I could and make sure it was ended in the right place. Sometimes this meant just cutting the stitch short, but sometimes it meant making two small, interrupted stitches over a border line. Does this make sense at all? Basically, just fill in with abbreviated stitches in such a way that the pattern still carries through.

Or think of it this way: Say you did a solid square of this stitch and then cut out the curvy shape from that square. There would be some places where the stitches weren't full length, where they're interrupted by the cutting of the curve, but they would still follow the pattern as far as where they start and stop. If this just makes it more confusing, forget it! Wink

Good luck!

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"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."  ~Pablo Picasso
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2008 03:24:41 PM »

Or think of it this way: Say you did a solid square of this stitch and then cut out the curvy shape from that square. There would be some places where the stitches weren't full length, where they're interrupted by the cutting of the curve, but they would still follow the pattern as far as where they start and stop. If this just makes it more confusing, forget it! Wink

Good luck!

haha yes, it does make sense! The curved edges were most confusing to me and after so many times of undoing the whole thing I thought my fabric was going to end up looking like swiss cheese it had so many holes, and bigger holes, man it was frustrating.

At first glance, it doesn't seem like it'd be so hard to get the hang of, but man, it is. I did do what you're describing in some of the curved parts. But there were some times when I just randomly put stitches in.  It did the job I guess, I'm sure most people could easily spot the mistakes but as long as it filled it in I didn't really mind.

After messing up that bird, I realized that it's best to start in the middle next time. I tried starting in his tail, but that made the stitches slant differently than the rest of it. So, next time I'm dealing with a circular or curved shape I'm going to start with a straight line in the middle (top to bottom in the birds case), then work my way to the edges.  I don't know if that's the right way to do it, or what, but that's what I'm going to try with the next bird. This pattern has 5 of those birds and a few oval-ish leaf type things. Hopefully by the end I'll at least have one bird that looks properly done. 

But I reeeally appreciate all of you guys' help! And hopefully someone else who encounters problem with the long and short stitch will find this thread and use it for reference too.
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2008 04:58:22 PM »

It's definitely a tricky stitch. More so than I thought it would be. I don't think it matters if you randomly fill in stitches here and there, because they seem to blend so much in the end that you can't really tell, and most people will not be looking that closely anyway. I also think the only "right" way is the method that works for you to achieve your goal, so if starting in the middle is the right strategy to get the effect you want, then go for it! Half the fun (challenge) is figuring out things like this. Wink Have fun!

Mama of two, eeking out a few creative hours a day.

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."  ~Pablo Picasso
la la laurrenn
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2008 01:51:50 PM »

I have had loads of problems doing this stitch correctly. The only thing that has worked for me is doing it hoizontially and not vertically, that way you can keep it neater. (at least this works for me)

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