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Guide to Silk Ribbon Embroidery Stitches

Silk ribbon embroidery stitches are similar to those used in crewelwork, but ribbon stitches allow you to make textured leaves and dimensional flower petals.

This embroidery method is used most often to simulate floral effects, so most of the stitches are for leaves or flowers. However, I'm sure you could adapt the ribbon techniques for use in any design where you want texture.

Just keep in mind the fact that ribbon behaves a little differently than thread.

lock your ribbon on the needle to start ribbon embroidery

When you begin silk ribbon embroidery stitches, it's best to lock the ribbon onto your needle so it doesn't slip out. Simply poke the needle through the ribbon near the end.

Ribbon Embroidery Stitches

Straight Stitch
Make a straight line. So simple! Let the ribbon lay flat or add twist for a rolled tube effect.
Enter midway next to the last stitch, as with the normal crewelwork backstitch. The difference with ribbon embroidery is it's tendency to twist. The rolled tube effect makes great stems!
Leaf Stitch
Insert the ribbon through itself when reentering the fabric to create a curl at one end. Make sure it's lying flat to start, and don't pull too tightly. You can change the look by piercing the ribbon in the center, to the right, or to the left. Experiment!
This stitch can be used with the curl at the inner or outer end. I think makes nice leaves if stitched short distances with the curl at the stem. For flower petals, I like the curl at the other end, the flower edge, and longer length stitches.
Split Stitch
This is a line of leaf stitches worked on top of each other at the halfway point like a backstitch.
Lazy Daisy
Make a loose loop then another small stitch to hold it in place. This looks nice as rounded leaves, flower buds, or large fluffy petals. You can vary the effect depending on the twist in the ribbon and where you stitch it down. Again, experiment until you find the look you want.
You can leave the entrance and exit points for the loop wider apart and lengthen the small stitch into a stem, then make a whole line of them to create a fern leaf.
French Knot
Pointing the needle in the direction of the ribbon exiting the fabric, loop ribbon around the needle two or three times. Now insert the needle back into the fabric only a short distance away, and gently pull it through. The knots make nice small flowers or berries.
silk ribbon embroidery stitches

Find instructions for making a ribbon rose here.

Obviously, the above instructions are for hand sewing. If you'd rather machine sew simulated silk ribbon embroidery stitches, try free motion embroidery.

How to Do Machine Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Lay the ribbon on top of hooped fabric and tack it into place with stitches in clear thread. Fold the length of ribbon in half to start so that you have two ends to wok with and overlap. Since the ribbon doesn't actually go through the fabric with machine silk ribbon embroidery stitches, you can use larger threads and a more densely woven cloth, if you like.

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