Long & short stitch shading part one – how to stitch row one of long & short stitch.
Long & short stitch shading part two – how to stitch row two and subsequent rows of long & short stitch.
Long & short stitch shading part three – solutions for softening a hard line in your shading.
Irregular Long & Short Stitch part four – how to stitch irregular long & short stitch for feathers and fur.
Padded satin stitch part five – how to stitch padded satin stitch for Whitework With Colour Embroidery.
If you would like to learn more about the methods, materials, and preparation for Needlepainting or Whitework Embroidery you can purchase the handbook here.
What is Needlepainting? Basically it is the reproduction of a picture, painting or photo with needle and thread. It is a surface embroidery technique not to be confused with cross stitch or counted work. The outline is first traced onto a piece of fabric and then filled with different shades of thread as seen in the original picture – a bit like painting a picture with watercolor, crayons etc in art.
What fabric is used? The fabric used should preferably be a pure, natural fibre such as cotton or linen. It should have a plain, close weave with a high thread count so that you can place your needle wherever you want without going into the same hole twice. Counted thread linens are not suitable. Recommended linen and cotton can be found in the Etsy store here.
Is a backing fabric required? No not if you are using a good quality, medium weight fabric that can support the weight of the fabric. If you are using a very light weight fabric then it may be necessary to use a second piece as a backing fabric.
What thread is used? The best type of thread to use is DMC/Anchor stranded cotton. One strand is used throughout unless otherwise instructed. DMC/Anchor can be purchased at any good online or highstreet needlework store.
How is the thread used? Pull out a length of thread from the skein about 50 – 60cm is good and separate one strand from the six. Cut this off and thread into the needle.
Thread nap. All thread has a nap which is the direction that the pile of the yarn lies. To keep your stitching smooth it helps to thread your needle with the strand in the same direction each time. An easy way to keep track of the direction of the yarn is to pull out a length of thread – separate one strand, and cut off this strand only. Thread the top end into the needle. Each time you re-thread pull out another strand and use the same end.
What needles are used? A good quality English Sharps needle size 11 is the best needle to use for needlepainting. It has a shorter shaft and smaller eye than other needles which allows for the stabbing motion required for this technique. Alternatively you can use a crewel needle size 10. Sharps needles can be found in the Etsy store here.
What type of Magnifying Light is used? A magnifying light is essential. It is not easy to see the fine stitches through the naked eye even if you have a good pair of spectacles. If for any reason you cannot use a magnifying lamp stitch under a very bright daylight. You can purchase a small/medium sized magnifying lamp that has daylight or natural light, online or at any lighting store.
What hoop is used? The best type of hoop is a Susan Bates super grip hoop as it keeps the fabric taut whilst stitching. They come in different sizes from small to large, use the size that best fits your embroidery leaving a space around the edge.
What is the best way to keep the fabric free of hoop marks? To prevent grubby hoop marks which are nearly impossible to wash out you can bind the inner ring before use and make a cover for the outer ring:
- Binding the inner ring – use strips of cotton or bias binding and wind these around the hoop. Secure the ends with a bit of fabric glue.
- Binding the outer ring – use a scrap piece of cotton the same size as your main fabric. Cut a small hole in the centre. Place your embroidery fabric over the inner hoop (lip facing up) and the scrap fabric on top of this. Make sure your design is centred in the hoop. Place the top ring over, and mount both pieces in the hoop. Adjust the fabric till it is drum tight and tighten the screw. Cut a large hole out of the top fabric so that the design is exposed.
Can the embroidery be washed after stitching is complete? Yes it can but only if you have used colourfast threads such as DMC cotton. If using silk or other thread you will need to follow the manufacturers instructions.
- Remove the embroidery from the hoop.
- Soak in warm water using a mild soap or detergent.
- Rinse thoroughly in cold water.
- Wrap in a fluffy towel to remove excess moisture.
- Place face down on a towel and iron till nearly dry.
- Leave to dry.
What happens if the embroidery is distorted/puckered after washing? You can block the embroidery to restore it to its original shape:
a) Place your damp fabric on a surface such as cork/foam board – make sure it has a straight edge.
b) Line your embroidery up on the straight edge on one side and place pins all along this edge.
c) Do the same thing on the bottom edge and then both side edges.
d) Leave till it is completely dry.
e) When it is dry remove pins and if necessary press with a medium iron on the wrong side.
5. If your embroidery is dry you can spray it with water when blocking.
How is the outline traced onto the fabric? You will need to trace the outline onto a piece of tracing paper or have it photocopied. There are two methods of tracing:
- Using a lightbox or window – place the outline over the light source and tape in place with masking tape. Place the fabric on top of this and tape in place. With the light showing through you will easily be able to see the lines – trace over these using an HB pencil or blue crayon.
- Using carbon paper – you will need typewriting carbon in blue or black. Place the fabric on a flat surface, place the carbon (centred) on top of this, place the outline on top of this. Tape each one in place with masking tape. Trace the lines with a sharp pencil.
What preparation is needed before stitching? Here is a check off list:
- Wash and iron your fabric to remove creases and pre-shrink.
- Trace the outline onto the fabric.
- Mount the fabric into the hoop.
- Thread one strand of cotton into the needle.
- Start stitching.
What stitches are used for needlepainting? The main stitch used is long & short stitch. Other stitches such as split stitch, french knot, straight stitches, satin stitch and bullions are used to mimic an area in the picture where required. The instructions below cover the basics of each stitch if you would like detailed information please refer to either my DVD or any of my books.
This method of securing your thread when starting is nice and neat and does not leave any lumps.
To start off make a tiny stitch inside the shape, near the edge, leave a small tail at the back.
Make a second stitch close to this and back into the center of the first stitch. Give it a tug it should feel secure.
Snip off the tail with scissors.
To end off run the stitches under the previous stitches on the back of the work, about 3 times till secure. Snip off with scissors.
LONG & SHORT STITCH
Long & short stitch or silk shading/soft shading as it is otherwise known is the main stitch used for needlepainting embroidery. Shades of colour are blended together by working in rows – each row blends into the previous one to create a shaded effect. The name long & short stitch is a little misleading because it is more like irregular satin stitches – it is not necessary to stitch one long stitch, one short stitch – rather just stitches of different lengths.
The first row is the most important as it sets the precedent for all the other rows. If the first row is not full and close together then there will be gaps in the other rows which makes the shading look uneven and rough.
The easiest way to start is to put in placement stitches as guidelines. Start in the center and work out towards each side. Stitch random straight stitches across the row as shown in diagram (1). Bring the stitch up at A and into the outline at B as shown in diagram (2). Go back and forwards filling in the gaps as shown in diagram (3). Continue doing this till the first row is complete as shown in diagram (4).
Stitch lengths – the stitches should be about 1cm (0.4inches) some shorter and some a bit longer.
In this row you will either change to the next shade or continue in the same shade depending on how the shades are distributed in the picture that you are copying. Sometimes you will need to stitch more than one row of each colour. Again start by stitching placement stitches across the row as you did in row one and then going back and filling in the gaps.
Come up into the previous stitches and down in the shape – up at A and down at B as shown in diagram (5).
The stitches should be staggered not in a straight line – some stitches will go right up into the previous row and some will come further down as shown in diagram (6). Up down, Up down……….
Continue going backwards and forwards across the row filling in stitches as in diagram (7).
Completed row two diagram (8).
All other rows are worked as for Row Two until the shape is completely filled.
Outline – sometimes it is necessary to stitch a split stitch outline around the shape to add definition. The outline goes under the long & short stitch and the long & short stitches are worked OVER the outline.
Long & Short Stitch Looks Like This.
WHITEWORK WITH COLOUR
Traditionally whitework is done with white thread on a white ground fabric but I have added touches of grey, black and colour to mimic the doodle patterns & artwork which are rapidly gaining popularity in the present day. I have called it Whitework With Colour so as to distinguish it from pure whitework embroidery. The main stitch used for whitework is padded satin stitch – you can watch a video above on the method.
If you would like to learn how to do whitework embroidery you can purchase either a kit or the handbook Needlepainting & Whitework embroidery here: