Working Ribbon Stitch for Ribbon Embroidery

In the technique of ribbon embroidery, one of the most common stitches is, appropriately, ribbon stitch. It is also unique to this form of embroidery because it can only be worked with ribbon and not with other types of thread

Ribbon stitch is a versatile stitch in ribbon embroidery, as it can be worked in different ways with ease, and it truly is a building block when it comes to creating designs in this technique. The most common motif in this style of embroidery is flowers, and ribbon stitch works well for making petals for so many types of flora. It is best done with silk ribbon, and can be used to make the leaves for flowers and plants as well.

This stitch is simple but does require stitching with practice and care. Start with the basic version of the stitch, and then try a few variations.

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    Ribbon Stitch Guide

    Ribbon Stitch Diagram
    © Mollie Johanson, Licensed to

    Working Ribbon Stitch

    Bring the ribbon up from the back of the fabric (point 1).

    Lay the ribbon on the surface of the fabric and pierce the center of the ribbon with the needle where the end of the stitch should be (point 2). 

    Carefully pull the needle through, making sure that the loop of working ribbon is not twisted. As you pull the working ribbon and the loop shrinks, go slow. 

    The finished stitch should have a little roll at the end which has a small point. This can look a little different depending on the size of the ribbon you are using.

    If you pull the ribbon through too much, the end of the stitch will sink through the to back and be irreversible. You will be left with a straight stitch of ribbon. Practicing this stitch is the best way to avoid this problem.

    If it's too late, you can either trim the ribbon and remove the stitch, securing the end on the back, or leave the straight stitch in place and work a new ribbon stitch over it.

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    Ribbon Stitch in Use

    Ribbon Stitch Example
    © Mollie Johanson, Licensed to

    The basic method for forming a ribbon stitch results in a stitch that is flat against the fabric, but you can change the look of the stitch with a few slight adjustments.

    The first way creates a bit more dimension to the stitch. When laying the ribbon on the fabric, keep the ribbon looser, rather than flat on the fabric. As ​the needle passes through the ribbon, it will secure the stitch in place with the slight arc to the ribbon. 

    Another easy way to customize the stitch is by the place where the needle pierces the ribbon. Essentially, you can alter the direction that the end of the stitch points by either piercing to the right or left of the center of the ribbon. 

    Ribbon stitch can be worked at different sizes and with different widths of ribbon, all of which will change the look. You can even adjust the amount that you pull the working ribbon through, which will give the end a new result.

    Again, this is a stitch that takes some practice, but the more you work at it, you will find that you're able to embroider the silk equivalent of beautiful brushstrokes.