The Basics of Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Silk ribbon embroidery is one of the most unique and elegant forms of needlework. Great for embroidering garments, linens, trinkets and more, this age-old art adds romantic and vintage charm to any heirloom project. Below, we'd like to share a couple of ribbon work tutorials from one of the world's true masters of embroidery: Gloria McKinnon.

Gloria is the owner of Anne's Glory Box in Newcastle, Australia and the author of numerous books. She's shared her handwork talents at sewing seminars around the globe, including the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion, as well as on several of our Sew Beautiful instructional DVDs.

NOTE: Silk ribbon widths may be chosen according to size flower or leaf desired. Calico Braided Rug Needles (medium and large) and Mary Arden Leather Needles (sizes 3 to 7) are used for the silk ribbon and thread work embellishment.

Ribbon Stitch

Ribbon Stitch (Japanese Ribbon Stitch)
(4mm, 7mm, and 13mm silk ribbon)
Probably one of the most common silk ribbon stitches, this stitch is simply a straight stitch with a curl at one end.

1. Bring the needle to the front at point A. Lay the ribbon flat against the fabric. Without twisting the ribbon, pierce the ribbon at point B at the desired length of the stitch (figure 1).

2. Pull the needle through to the back until the ribbon begins to curl at the end (figure 2). Keep the tension loose.


(13mm silk ribbon)
This stunning flower takes approximately two yards of silk ribbon. It is made using a ribbon stitch.

1. Stitch one layer of overlapping ribbon stitches (figure 1).

2. Stitch the second layer of ribbon stitches slightly shorter than the first (figure 2).

3. The center may be filled with seed beads or French knots (see figure 2).

The French Sewing Box

Learn more about silk ribbon embroidery and needlework on our newest DVD, The French Sewing Box with Gloria McKinnon. This DVD will show you how to sew a beautiful set of sewing accessories for yourself or a friend as you master gorgeous stitches like silk ribbon fuchsia, chrysanthemums, daisies, asters, lilies, roses and more.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

How to Sew Entredeux to Fabric

This tutorial from Sue Stewart was featured in our Favorite Heirloom Sewing Designs edition.

Summertime is nearly upon us, and that means it's time for sunny days and plenty of light-and-breezy sewing projects. In heirloom sewing, there are a handful of basic techniques we use time and time again, project after project. We've been sharing tutorials for some of these periodically to help those of you new to heirloom sewing. This week, we'd like to continue that series with a how-to for sewing entredeux to fabric.

Before you begin, keep in mind that the stitch settings given are not absolutes. Different machines stitch out differently. Use the settings given as starting points, adjust up or down as needed and use what works best for you. Also, the fabric should almost always be starched and pressed before it is sewn.

1. Do not trim the entredeux. Place the entredeux and fabric right sides together, with raw edges even.

Photo 1

2. With the entredeux on top, use a straight stitch (L=2.0) to stitch in the ditch right along the "ladder" of the entredeux (see photo 1).

Photo 2

3. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8 inch. Roll and whip this seam allowance by zigzagging (L=1.0; W=4.5) so that one needle swing goes into the fabric right along the previous straight stitching, and the other needle swing goes off the edge of the fabric, rolling the seam allowance (photo 2). HINT: I usually do this roll-and-whip stitching with the entredeux on the bottom.

4. Press the rolled hem away from the entredeux. Stitch a tiny zigzag (L and W=1.0) from the right side so that one needle swing goes into the "ditch" right next to the "ladder" of the entredeux, and the other needle swing just catches the fold of the fabric. Starch and press one more time.

For more heirloom sewing inspiration, check out our new Heavenly Bliss Round Yoke Gown, Booties and Slip Kit. The kit includes everything you need to create the lovely "Heavenly Bliss" daygown set featured in our book Precious Baby Daygowns - Round Yoke Collection.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia