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Guide to Long Stitching

Updated on August 23, 2013

What is a Long Stitch?

Many people have heard of cross stitch and embroidery but not many people are familiar with the craft of long stitch. So what is long stitching.

The long stitch is a form of needlecraft which can sometimes be known as the long armed stitch, the plaited Slav, the Portuguese stitch and the twist stitch. All of these forms of long stitch are usually used for filling large areas of design or for use in borders.

The thread that is used in long stitch designs is how long stitches get their texture. The stitch and the thread gives its designs an almost 3D effect, causing the design to stand out from its backing material. This is the reason why long stitch is most commonly used as borders but also used in conjunction with other stitches for a greater overall effect.

How to Long Stitch

To create a long stitch you simply...

  1. Stitch a short stitch
  2. Then reach out with a long stitch to the desired end point hence the name long armed stitch.

It is that simple.

There are many short video that can be found on YouTube which should give you clear instructions on how to long stitch and help those who learn better by watching a person go through the steps. I have included a good video on this hubpage below, enjoy :D

How to Long Stitch Video

Factors to Remember when Long Stitching

The most important factor to remember about long stitching is that the stitches always need to go in the same direction or work back and forth so that either the rows are always in the same direction or alternate between two different directions.

Traditionally the stitches are vertical but the possibilities are endless and once the design you wanted has been achieved you cannot tell the stitches from each other, the finished effect is almost 3D as mentioned in the intro to this hubpage.

If you are making rows then you have to have a ‘compensating' stitch at the beginning and the end so that it has a neat beginning and ending. More information and diagrams about this can be found at Carole Lake's website.

It's the thread, otherwise known as embroidery floss, which helps give it its texture due to the use of all 6 strands of embroidery floss used. The material used for long stitching is the same as the material used for cross stitching, aida (pronounced eye-ee-da) which can be brought in a wide array of colours and sizes at craft stores.

Long Stitch Kits

For a simple way to get into long stitch pick up a long stitch kit, they are available from many different craft stores today and come in a variety of different patterns and images ideal for many different uses and occasions. They include pillows and decorative samples.

The same principles of cross stitch apply to long stitch. They both use a fabric called aida which works on ‘counts', the higher the count the smaller the stitches and the more complex the pattern is. An ideal count for beginners is below 15 counts whereas those with more experience can work with higher counts.

These kits also make great gifts that can be given to loved ones, family members and friends. They can be personalised for each person by altering the colouring, adding a border and/or by including a specific person's name, age or other notable information.

With long stitch kits there is no reason not to give the needle craft ago, so pick up a kit and try long stitching today.


Long Stitch Kits for Beginners

There are plenty of long stitch kits that are suitable for beginners, these should have a low count number and be a project that the beginner is interested in.

A good long stitch kit for beginners is the ‘Tulips Long Stitch Kit', perfect for the summer and available from Readicut (shown on the right).

This long stitch kit has a count of 12, this means that the long stitches themselves are large and that the pattern is easy to follow because of the large size of the stitches. Perfect for beginners.


The long stitch is just one craft that falls under the needlecraft umbrella. There are plenty of others that you might like to try.

They include...

  • Cross Stitching
  • Embroidery
  • Latch Hook
  • Needle lace
  • Crochet
  • Quilting
  • Knitting
  • Lucet
  • Applique
  • Tatting
  • Braiding
  • Tassel Making

The majority of these needlecrafts can also be found in needlecraft kits which will give you the chance to try out the different crafts at your own pace.

Try needlecrafts today

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