I had seen pictures of ribbon-work before but they always looked rather old-fashioned, and not really my cup of tea. However, lately having seen the designs by the Royal School of Needlework and by Lorna Bateman, I started to change my mind. Their designs are much more contemporary and look a lot like something I would enjoy making, even though they still looked rather scary and difficult.
Tell-sell programme’s are not usually my thing, but I have been enjoying some of the shows on the Hochanda craft channel as besides the ‘buy, buy, buy’-mantra they do feature some good demonstrations. When Lorna Bateman was on, she demonstrated silk ribbon embroidery and it really did look like a lot of fun and something I would be able to manage. At the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace last October I bought, besides a number of her other kits, a taster kit of ribbon embroidery.
As usual, everything is included in the kit and the only three things I had to before starting was to zig-zag the fabric to prevent it from fraying, to trace the design of the fabric and to tack the muslin behind the fabric and I was ready to go.
I always use my sewing machine to zig-zag the fabric as I am too impatient to do it by hand. When I am starting a new kit, I just want to get going and not spend ages getting set up.
If you are planning to a lot of your own designs or trace those from books or magazines, it is very worthwhile investing in a lightbox. It is so much easier than holding your design up to a window. My lightbox is a Artograph Lightpad 930 and it enables you to trace a design up to A4 size. The picture below shows my lightbox, but without its light on as it does not photograph well. For tracing I use a water soluble pen (Prym Aqua Trickmaker Extra fine) which is brilliant as you can erase it easily with some cold water. For erasing on the go I recommend the Prym Water Pen.
I always thought wrapping your embroidery hoop in strips fabric first to hold your embroidery fabric more firmly was a bit of a fib but trust me it does work! So do try it for yourself!
When you start any form of ribbon embroidery you need to start with the normal thread stitches first. I therefore embroidered the stems of the roses first.
After that I used the spider web stitch to make the roses. It is basically an embroidery wheel with five spokes under and over which you weave the ribbon in circles.
The buds and the leaves are made with Japanese ribbon stitch (inverted stab stitch).
Finally, I attached a bow around the stems for a finishing touch. I have not washed the design yet, so you can still a few blue lines from the tracing, but I just simply couldn’t wait to post the result!
The project was very quick (I only started yesterday afternoon) and a lot of fun to do. In this taster kit there really are only two main stitches you need to use, so it is very accessible to a beginner. However, it did take me a bit of time to get used to stitching with ribbon as it is quite difficult to get all of the stitches looking correctly, something which is much easier when stitching with thread.
On the other hand it was so much fun, I have even booked a ribbon (& stumpwork) embroidery course at the Royal School of Needlework in July!