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A Beginners’ Guide to Silk Ribbon Embroidery

There are many different embroidery stitches, but I’ve found that just five basic stitches, used alone or in various combinations, can create a large array of floral motifs and stitch patterns. The ribbon stitch is for ribbon only, but the lazy daisy, straight stitch, stem stitch, and French knots can be made with ribbon or thread. Try them, and you’ll see that the ribbon produces a different effect with each stitch. I’ve included some silk ribbon embroidery tips to help with locking and ending off stitches as well as ways to keep the ribbon flat while stitching. You’ll also want to remember not to pull your stitches too tightly, or your fabric will pucker and the ribbon will twist and end up looking like embroidery floss.

Five basic stitches

With just a handful of stitches, you can be on your way to beautiful silk ribbon embroidery. The illustrations show the stitches formed with ribbon, but many of them can also be worked with perle cotton and embroidery floss for various textured effects. See also Basics of Silk Ribbon Embroidery.

Straight stitch

The most basic of stitches can be used for numerous effects, some of which are shown below.

1. Bring up the needle and pull the ribbon through.

2. Insert down in a different location, pull through. This creates a line.

Illustration of a straight stitch.
Step 1. Pull up in one area and insert back down in another.

Step 2: Start from the same location and stitching several stitches out in a circle or half circle creates a flower design.


Several examples of how to use a straight stitch.
Several examples of how to use a straight stitch.

Ribbon stitch

This stitch makes great leaves or petals, and works only with silk ribbon.

The ribbon stitch effect.
Come up through the fabric, lay the ribbon flat out and bring the needle back and down through to create a curling back effect.

1. Bring up ribbon through fabric, pull through.

2. Lay ribbon flat on fabric and insert needle back through and piercing ribbon and pull through slowly. Ribbon will curl into itself, so don’t pull tightly, or effect will be lost. To vary curl, pierce B to right or left of center of ribbon width, see below.

Tip: If ribbon appears straight and narrow, make another stitch on top of first one.

A flower created using the ribbon stitch.
Piercing the needle back through the ribbon creates a curling effect that gives dimension to the embroidery.

Ribbon stitch varies by where you place the needle when you pierce it back through the stitch.
Piercing the ribbon closer to one edge or the other creates a larger curl on the opposing side.
Embroidery done with the ribbon stitch.
Flowers and leaves created with the ribbon stitch.

Lazy daisy

Use for petals or leaves with ribbon, floss, or perle cotton.

1. Bring up the ribbon and pull through.

2. Make loop in direction of other end of stitch and insert, a thread or two to side of initial stitch. Pull out needle again, in opposite direction from the needle points until loose loop is formed, then stitch back down on the other side of the loop, so as to secure the loop in place. Note: To prevent ribbon from twisting when it’s drawn through fabric after pulling out the third stitch, arrange it around needle so it’s flat. Gently hold in place with thumb while sliding needle and ribbon through.

French knots

1. Bring up needle, pull through. Holding ribbon or thread, lay needle on top.

2. Wrap ribbon or thread around needle two to three times. Insert needle at back into fabric, a thread or two from initial point. Gently slide wrapped ribbon/thread down needle to rest against fabric, and pull through.

Stem stitch

Use this stitch for flower stems and outlining.

1. Bring up thread, pull through.

2. Insert needle again on stem line. Holding thread below line, pull out again directly in line with last stitch (not above or below) and 18 in. from where inserted, pull through. Continue to end of line, making sure thread is always held below line of stitching.


For more valuable information, visit:

Happy Sewing!

Karen Kieppe embroiders in East Lansing, Mich., where she owns the Granny May Company.



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  1. User avater
    SusanGayle | | #1

    I would love to take this up again but I can't find the ribbons anymore. I see some 2, 4, & 7mm but not 9 & 13 and no organza. I used Bucilla last time. That was all the was available in our area. Now the isn't any. Even the ones that pop up an a search don't seem to have many (or any).

  2. Peeshy | | #2

    I have never done SRE but would love to learn - what kind of a needle should I use?

  3. dearly | | #3

    thanks its really help me

  4. shifa | | #4

    hi! i love embroidery works very much i would like have more of these and ofcourse its really helpfull thanx

  5. kpop_princess | | #5

    this is so helpful!!!!!!

  6. user-3606258 | | #6

    I have just joined. I see questions here that I would like to know the answers to also but, I do see any answers. Where can I find them?

  7. User avater
    WillowMchenry | | #7

    This is so pretty and i like this embroidery

  8. kayem818 | | #8

    I have a ribbon embroidery quilt that has been damaged by my pet (long nails caught the ribbons). Is there anyone in Washington County, Maine who would be interested in repairing this quilt? It was very expensive and is still very beautiful. I don't know how to repair it, but hoping there is someone out there to do it.

  9. PassiveLead | | #9

    It was so nice to see this type of embroidery

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