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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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The Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery: Book Review

 

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Are you a silk ribbon embroidery fan? Have you seen Tatiana Popova’s lush silk ribbon embroidery?

Tatiana, a Ukrainian embroiderer who specializes in silk ribbon work, creates pieces that exude a definite ribbony richness – lavish ribbon, sumptuous color, deceptively realistic flowers. And she also uses ribbon to create some whimsical pieces as well – she likes owls!

Tatiana produces silk ribbon embroidery kits under the brand Little Owl Smart Crafts, which she sells through her website, Sovushka.

I first came across Tatiana’s luxuriant floral creations in ribbon embroidery through Di van Niekerk, whose blog I enjoy following. Di networks with silk ribbon enthusiasts all over the globe and features many of them on her blog.

So that’s where I first saw Tatiana’s work, and I was excited to learn that this year, she has published a book. It’s called The Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery, and today, I’d like to show it to you.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

Tatiana’s Seasons is a dual language book, published in both Russian and in English, both in the same book.

How does this work? Each page is divided in half – Russian text on one side, English on the other – with the pictures shared between. It’s a smart way to self-publish a book for a broader audience.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

The Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery is both a project and an instructional book.

In the beginning of the book, you’ll find all the basics to get you started with silk ribbon embroidery, including information on materials, project set-up, and so forth.

These introductory basics are thoroughly covered, and gives the stitcher – even the very beginner in silk ribbon work – a good foundation for any of the projects in the book.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

In addition to materials & supplies, basic starting stitches and the like, you’ll find a good section on color here, too.

I love reading different perspectives and approaches on color, so I always appreciate it when there’s a section devoted to color in a needlework book! I figure I can use all the help I can get on this topic…

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

There’s quite a bit of introductory material before launching into the projects in the book.

And there are quite a few projects! Twenty, as a matter of fact.

The majority of them are floral – which is probably the most common interpretation for silk ribbon embroidery – so it’s fun to find, among the florals, some whimsical non-floral designs as well, like Tatiana’s seasonal owls.

Owls in embroidery seem to be a Thing right now. Maybe they have been for a while, and I just hadn’t noticed? In the past year or so, though, there’s definitely been some growth in the population of embroidered owls. They are definitely not extinct!

If you’re an owl-lover, then, and you love ribbon embroidery, these little fellows are a great way to combine the two.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

Each project’s instructions include a stitch and color layout guide, materials list, and instructions for completing the project. They’re pretty straightforward and easy to follow.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

The floral elements in the book range from very vibrant – like this basket of autumnal fire – to softer delicate shades.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

Throughout all the projects, you’ll find photos of processes.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

One process that I think is particular interesting is coloring the threads after you’ve stitched them.

Much of the shading effect on Tatiana’s work doesn’t actually come from overdyed ribbons (which was my original impression), but from the application of dye or paint on the ribbons, after the stitching has been completed.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

Incidentally, if you love silk ribbon roses, and you want to know how those big, extravagant silk ribbon roses are stitched, you’ll find plenty of them in this book!

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

After all the projects, you’ll find a thorough stitch dictionary with all kinds of ribbon embroidery techniques…

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

…and finally, at the end of the book, you’ll find the patterns for transferring.

You’ve probably noticed that the backgrounds on some of the projects and demonstrations throughout the book look like they are painted.

In fact, they aren’t! The picture that forms the base of the project is actually printed on the fabric, and then the details are worked over in silk ribbon.

So, these pictures in the back of the book are there for you to scan them at a fairly decent resolution and then run your fabric through your printer.

If you’re used to the idea of printing on your fabric, this could be a good thing. If you don’t have experience with it, though, it might seem daunting.

It isn’t hard – in fact, I have an article discussing printing on fabric here – but it does require certain parameters on your printer and, in some cases, certain extra supplies.

With the way the book is set up, you’d be obliged to slice these pages out carefully, to get decent scans.

In a Nutshell

Tatiana’s Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery covers a lot of content, and it covers it in a way that’s very accessible for beginners in silk ribbon (and beyond).

Here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

1. The book contains a lot of content, covered thoroughly. There’s very extensive instruction in it, especially in the stitch dictionary section and when it comes to many different floral elements.

2. There are many interesting techniques covered that are not often found in standard ribbon embroidery stitch dictionaries and project books.

3. The book sports twenty complete projects, and that’s a lot of projects in a book!

4. The English is well translated. There are some little glitches in the language here and there, but nothing that detracts from clarity in the processes and instructions.

Cons:

These are just things to be aware of. They aren’t absolute negatives, but if they are points that would bother you, you’ll want to know about them in advance.

1. The book is printed on paper that is similar in feel to a lightweight magazine – it’s very thin and quite glossy.

2. The requirement to print designs onto fabric can be a big drawback for those not interested in that approach, though not all the projects require this approach. There’s no real alternative to that for the projects that do, though, unless you somehow traced the designs into line drawings and then transferred them onto the fabric.

Tatiana’s Kits

For those who don’t want to do the on-fabric printing themselves (or gather the stitching supplies for the projects), you can find kits for the project featured in the book on Tatiana’s website, here.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

The kits include most supplies necessary to complete the project – fabric pre-printed with the picture, all the ribbons, needles, some sheets with tips for stitching. There is no paint or dye for shading the silk ribbons – this is an optional step that takes your ribbon embroidery to another level, and up to you whether you want to incorporate the technique.

Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery by Tatiana Popova

Interestingly, with some of the kits, the printed design is actually a print of the ribbon embroidery project, completed!

So there you have it! If you’re a ribbon embroidery enthusiast, feel free to check out Tatiana’s book and her kits, which are available on her website, here.

And if you’re on social media, you can follow along with Tatiana’s work on Facebook here and Pinterest here.

Hope you have a terrific weekend! I’m finishing a project this weekend! Yay!! See you Monday!

 
 

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(1) Comments

  1. Mary, hi-
    I love your website and your blog.
    I was reading about your review of the book, The Seasons in Ribbon Embroidery, and want to know the how-to’s to print on fabric with my printer. This is a new concept for me and I want to know more about how it is done, so I can incorporate it into my embroideries.
    Thank you,
    Susan

    1
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