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How to Sew Shisha Embroidery

Frame sparkling paillettes in hand stitches

Threads, Issue #209 June/July
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Accent modern garments with this centuries-old embellishment. Pattern: Simplicity 8384, modified. Fabric: cotton voile, VogueFabricsStore.com.

Shisha embroidery is the technique of stitching a border around small pieces of metal or glass to attach them to fabric. It originated in Southeast Asia, and examples of shisha embroidery can be found from as far back as the 17th century. The name “shisha” comes from the Persian word for glass. The mirrors in shisha embroidery were thought to ward off the evil eye.

Now, paillettes are an inexpensive and lightweight alternative to metal or glass mirrors, which makes creating shisha motifs easier. Following these simple instructions, you can add shisha embroidery to any garment or project you can stitch on. I’ll show you the basic attachment method, but you can build on the technique to create more complex motifs. The shisha stitch encloses the mirror or paillette behind a cage-like border that secures the mirror without needing to sew through it. As with many styles of embroidery, an…

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