Come On – Let’s Have a Go at … Ribbon Embroidery

Have a Go at Ribbon Embroidery

Ribbon Embroidery is a gentle, relaxing craft that brings flowers to 3D life in a way that no other embroidery really can. Come on – Let’s Have a Go…?!

Ribbon Embroidery Snowdrops - Completed Embroidery

Inspiration to Get Started

I found the inspiration to venture into the wonderfully relaxing craft of ribbon embroidery in a beautiful book written by Ann Cox.

All the basic techniques are well described in this book and a wide variety of flowers are included with detailed instructions on how to complete the embroideries and design templates.  it is a bargain of a book which will give you many hours of pleasure.

Ribbon Embroidery - What you Will Need

You need very few tools and materials to get started on Ribbon Embroidery.

To begin with, have a practice on some lightweight embroidery linen.  Any plain fabric that is reasonably sturdily woven will do.

You will also need a hoop or frame to stabilise your work.  A Universal frame is a good idea as you can vary the size of it simply by removing the plastic corners and inserting different length side struts, so it is really versatile.  A good investment.

Ribbon Embroidery - Frame

Ribbon embroidery also requires a special sort of needle.  You will need wide eyed chenille needles in a variety of sizes.

Ribbon Embroidery Needles

Of course, you will also need silk ribbons.  Unfortunately, you can’t use just any old ribbon for ribbon embroidery – it does have to be silk.  Only the best will do.

A reliable on-line supplier I have used several times is Crafty Ribbons.

How to Do Ribbon Embroidery

You can also buy starter ribbon embroidery kits from Lorna Bateman.  She hasn’t yet written a book on Ribbon Embroidery, but has promised that one is to be published shortly.  It’s on my wish list already Lorna!

What she has provided is a great video on You Tube that shows you all the basic ribbon embroidery techniques and includes some very valuable tips and tricks.  This is really all you need to get yourself started and Have a Go at Ribbon Embroidery.

I particularly love the way she lets the silk ribbon curl before she embroiders rose petals with it, giving them that all important natural look.

Ribbon Embroidery - Projects for Beginners

I am going to share 3 projects with you that I hope will inspire you to have a go at ribbon embroidery yourself.

Ribbon Embroidery Project 1 - Snowdrops

Snowdrops make a lovely subject for ribbon embroidery.  This embroidery is one of the projects featured in Ann Cox’s book above.

I particularly like the way that you can hand dye your silk ribbon – and your background – to make it look natural and to capture the right shade of green.

Ribbon Embroidery - Snowdrops - Image Transfer
Ribbon Embroidery - Snowdrops - Image Transfer

The design can be quickly transferred using a Lightbox or by simply holding your frame/hoop up to a window and tracing the key points of the design onto your chosen with an HB pencil.

Ribbon Embroidery Snowdrops Work in Progress
Ribbon Embroidery Snowdrops Work in Progress
Ribbon Embroidery Snowdrops Work in Progress

I love the way you can curl the long lengths of green ribbon to look just like snowdrop leaves.

You need to be careful to work each element  in the right order.  The leaves and petals are 3D, so those at the front are worked over the top of the ones behind.

When the embroidery is completed, you need to take a little pale green paint and add the all important finishing touch of the green dots to the centre of each flower.  Scary – but very satisfying when it is done!

Ribbon Embroidery Snowdrops - Completed Embroidery
Ribbon Embroidery - Completed Project

This embroidery hangs on my bedroom wall and is a constant reminder in the depths of Winter that Spring will eventually return.

Ribbon Embroidery Project 2 - Vintage Notebook Cover

I love making vintage notebook covers.  The sort I like have flaps that the notebook slides into which means they can be used again and again.  You can simply remove your filled up notebook and slip in a nice new one and you are all ready to go again filling it with whatever you choose.  Maybe you will store your favourite recipes, garden planning notes – or perhaps your daily journal?

Ribbon Embroidery Lavender - Completed Embroidery
Ribbon Embroidery Lavender - Completed Embroidery

I chose another of the projects from Ann Cox’s book to make the cover for my Vintage Notebook.  Lavender is a great  subject for ribbon embroidery because of the 3D nature of it which captures the shape of the beautifully perfumed flower heads really well.

This design uses a simple stem stitch in embroidery thread for the flower stems.

To make the embroidery into a useful notebook cover, I followed the instructions in my previous post.  Adding lengths of vintage lace and trimmings give the all important finishing touches.  

It is always worth saving even short lengths of vintage trim//lace/ribbon – and findings.  At the time, you never quite know which project it will eventually be perfect for, but in my experience, there will always be one.  Heart Up-Cycling!

I hand dyed plain lace trim to get just the right colour of purple to co-ordinate with the silk ribbon embroidery.

Ribbon Embroidery - Lavender - Vintage Notebook
Ribbon Embroidery - Lavender - Vintage Notebook

Ribbon Embroidery Project 3 - Ribbon Rose Bolero

Last, but not least, I had a go at embroidering silk ribbon roses using Lorna Bateman’s video (link above).  It was a bit more challenging embroidering on coloured silk than on plain fabric, but I was really pleased with the result.

Rosa's Ribbon Embroidery Silk Bolero

You can read more about how the bolero was made and the doll it was made for on my previous post – Meet Rosa – Amora Encora Doll No. AE04.

Have a Go at Ribbon Embroidery - Workshops

If you are local to Birmingham and interested in Having a Go at Ribbon Embroidery in a Workshop, I am running one at Birmingham Hospice Shop on Harborne High Street on the 8th June.

Heart UpCycling - Ribbon Embroidery Workshop

For details of other craft workshops being held this year, just click on the link below.  I look forward to meeting you.

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