The Long and the Short of it


Nuido It Yourself - Japanese Embroidery with Madeline Scharpf

 

ロングアンドショートステッチ <<< That’s Katakana. It’s one of three Japanese alphabets and used for words that are not originally Japanese but are commonly used. If you could read it, it would say: ‘rongu ando shiyoto sutichi’. That doesn’t help? What if I told you it’s, ‘long and short stitch’. Does ‘rongu ando shiyoto sutichi’ make sense now that you read it again?

 

The only difference between these two examples is the thread thickness.
The only difference between these two examples is the thread thickness.

You may be thinking, ‘Hey, that’s just regular ol’ basic embroidery stuff. What makes this Japanese?’ Well, these projects are inspired by ideas from modern, Japanese craft books bought in Tokyo then translated using my mega-awesome language skills. I’ll admit, I learned Japanese for the purpose of reading craft books as well as to help my husband and sons play Pokemon before the American releases. It can take a year for video games to be translated in English…ain’t nobody got time for that!

 

There's some more Katakana! It says, 'haibisukasu'.
There’s some more Katakana! It says, ‘haibisukasu’.

The long and short stitch, with it’s alternating lengths, is often used for embroidering flowers. It gives a sense of color radiance and creates depth. The petals of this Hibiscus are done entirely with long and short stitches. The definition of each petal is created by varying the color and angle but not the stitch type. You can create any flower shape and make it beautiful using only one, simple technique. Before beginning the long and short stitch, the petals were outlined with a chain stitch.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Ho-hum, embroidered flowers are old hat. Give me leopards, purrr!!”

 

Thank you Husband for helping me take this picture!
Thank you Husband for helping me take this picture!

Long and short stitch isn’t only for classic effects and it’s a great filler stitch that anyone can do. All you need to know for this project is, chain stitch and long & short. I chose a simple ribbon design because illustrating ranks low on The List of Things I Do Well.

 

Just a chain stitch and a few long & shorts.
Just a chain stitch and a few long & shorts.

Outline the ribbon with a chain stitch and make the center of the spots with varying long & short stitches. Don’t worry about perfection, everybody get random!

 

You could make the band any color you want!
You could make the band any color you want!

The band is an example of an even effort but the black portions of the leopard spots are more free-form.

 

Work back and forth in sort of a rainbow pattern.
Work back and forth in sort of a rainbow pattern.

Filling in the rest isn’t an exact science, but try to vary the lengths and put a short on top of a long when you can. Begin nearest the center, work back and forth until you’ve filled in your figure.

 

The back of my finished hair clip.
The back of my finished hair clip.

That’s all there is to it! Instead of leopard spots, try pink zebra stripes or colorful geometric shapes. To finish, I decided to trim the linen and outline stitch onto a piece of felt with some pink thread. You can turn this into a brooch or a statement necklace, I made mine into a hair clip.

 

I realize my clip isn't new anymore. Sometimes we've gotta use what we have.
I realize my clip isn’t new anymore. Sometimes we’ve gotta use what we have.

If you want a hair clip too, just cut another piece of felt, make two slits more narrow than the metal clip, secure the clip with a few stitches and glue it to your embroidery. Come back next month because I’ll be talking about the alluring world of Sashiko. Ja mata! See you next time! じゃまた!

 

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Madeline Scharpf

When she’s not gallivanting overseas (usually to Japan) Madeline is making things at home in the Oregon countryside where she lives with four dogs, a pig and her human family. You can keep up with Madeline’s endless fiber projects and find her travel blog at www.madelinewonderland.com as well as visit her Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/TheAliceSyndrome.


Madeline Scharpf

Madeline Scharpf

When she’s not gallivanting overseas (usually to Japan) Madeline is making things at home in the Oregon countryside where she lives with four dogs, a pig and her human family.
Madeline Scharpf
Madeline Scharpf
Madeline Scharpf

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