Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Ribbon Embroidery on Linen


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Ashley’s linen napkins embroidered with silk ribbon are gorgeous! Hemstitched linen napkins served as the ground fabric for her first forray into embroidery. This sumptuous spray of flowers is so beautifully executed that it’s hard to believe the project comes from a beginner in silk ribbon, let alone a beginner in embroidery in general!

I’ll let Ashley tell you all about her first experience with silk ribbon embroidery…

Ashley's Silk Ribbon Embroidery

I have never embroidered before and picked up Country Bumpkin’s A-Z of Ribbon Embroidery while in a needlepoint store and found it simply irresistible! Knowing nothing about embroidery and especially ribbon embroidery, I typed the supply list into a search engine, ordered the products, and waited on bated breath to begin my new project!

The design is called “Desprez a Fleur” by Lynda Maker. The roses are a gathered ribbon rose with two ribbons (a 7mm yellow ribbon and a 4mm pale yellow) stitched together to give it some depth. In the center of the roses are little French knots out of gold Madeira silk floss. The rosebuds were made by covering a pearl bead with ribbon stitches. The design called from glass beads; however, I decided that was a bit impractical for a napkin, but then so is silk ribbon embroidery! These are definitely going to be “looky lu” napkins only!

Ashley's Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Of course, after purchasing all of the supplies, I went on to read about the horrors of silk ribbon embroidery…the fraying, tearing, etc. I was beginning to think I was getting in over my head. Luckily, I didn’t have any problems and it all went very smoothly and quickly. After doing needlepoint for the last 6 years, I love the
freedom, creative expression, and delicate femininity involved in embroidery. Needlepoint canvas can be rather limiting, even with all of the stitches that are available today. As my Mom says, needlepoint is earthenware, while embroidery is delicate fine china.

I think my next undertaking will be goldwork on a Bible cover. I have been needlepointing a Bible cover and I am just about finished, so I thought maybe I would try an embroidered cover after seeing one of your posts on them. I begin an internship as a hospital chaplain in the fall, so I figure there’s no such thing as too many Bible covers!

I know I am probably being a little over ambitious to move straight to goldwork! But I have a touch of youthful hubris– if others can do it, why can’t I too?!

Thanks, Ashley! Um… I think if you launched this easily into silk ribbon embroidery, you should have no problems at all trying your hand at goldwork! Best of luck!


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(10) Comments

  1. I second Mary's feeling that you'll have no problem with goldwork. Just follow the basic instructions (add A-Z of Goldwork to your library – it's great) and your Bible covers should turn out beautifully. I followed pretty much the same path (cross stitch to ribbonwork to goldwork) over the course of three years, mostly self-taught but with the support of my local EGA chapter.

    Goldwork and ribbonwork seem to either be acquired tastes OR they must be so intimidating-appearing that some embroiderers tend to shy away from them and designate them as "hard," "difficult to master" or the kiss-of-death "way too tricky!" The truth – or secret – is, as you've discovered with those gorgeous napkins, that you get a whole lot of "bang for your buck" with fairly basic techniques.

    So keep charging ahead – and make sure you keep reading Mary's blog. Not only the daily posts, but the past ones all related to goldwork. They'll REALLY keep you motivated!

    Best of luck,

    Lauren in Connecticut

  2. i love embroidery of all types…thread ribbon etc.this is very help full site and i m used to see it often.

  3. I just read about beginner, Ashley’s foray into silk ribbon embroidery, and feel like maybe I shouldn’t be so timid about trying it. I am a passionate quilter who loves anything to do with thread, needle and fabric. You mentioned using SRE on a Bible cover and my eyes surely must have widened. I’m in the process of making a quilted Bible cover for a dear friend for Christmas and believe I will do some practice work and then try to add that to the cover. Thank you for all that you give those of us who love to embroider, but need guidance. You are amazing.

  4. Hi Ashley, your work is gorgeous, I’m envious ha ha. Could you give me some advice?. I decided to have a go at this lovely craft and bought some linen, satin ribbon and chenille needle and thought I was set to go!. I ended up practically wrestling on the floor trying to pull the ribbon through the linen and I had no chance pulling ribbon through the ribbon. I feel defeated and can’t find out where I’m going wrong. Do I have to use Silk ribbon? or am I ok to use satin?. Ashley I would really appreciate if you can advise me because I don’t know anyone who does this craft. I live in UK
    Many thanks,

    1. Hi, Averil – Ashley probably won’t see your comment, as this post was from quite a while ago. If you’re keen to start up ribbon embroidery, you might check out the website of Di Van Niekerk – she is probably the best known ribbon embroidery designer out there. In the UK, you might check out the website of Sophie Long – she does a lot of ribbon embroidery and offers some very sweet designs and kits.

      If you’re using satin ribbon that you purchased from a regular fabric store, it is probably too thick and dense for the type of stitching you’re trying to do. Your best bet is to find silk ribbon that’s made for silk ribbon embroidery.

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