photo by York Wilson Photography

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Some thoughts about shisha embroidery

Someone on Tribe asked me to explain how to do shisha embroidery, which I didn't do at all in the belt tutorial (I found this other tutorial online and glanced at it briefly before linking to it, hehe... lazy.)
Anyway, here are my thoughts:
The first step is to make a net type thing around the mirror so it can't fall out or move from side to side.
To keep the mirror from slipping around while you are trying to sew it in place, hold it down with the thumb of your non-dominant hand while you hold your base in place with the rest of your hand. Start holding the needle beneath the base fabric. Push the needle up through the base fabric right at the edge of the mirror. Pull the yarn (or embroidery floss) across the middle of the mirror, so that it bisects the mirror a little bit away from the dead center. Hold this part down with your thumb and push the needle back through the base at the very edge of the mirror. Pull the yarn/floss tight. That's one stitch. You want to make stitches to form either a triangle (for smaller mirrors) or a square (for larger mirrors) around the center of the mirror. Don't worry if they are almost in the middle of the mirror, you will pull them back later with your other embroidery. Now stitch a triangle (or square) that goes in the opposite direction from your first one... so if you are using triangles it will end up looking like a Star of David. By this time you can hopefully let go of the mirror because it won't fall out. Now the net is done.
Now you want to open up the net so that you can actually see the mirror. Start with your needle back on the back of the base and push it through to the front right at the edge of the mirror. Thread the needle underneath one of the stitches of the net on top of the mirror and pull the yarn through. Now gently pull the yarn back towards the edge of the mirror and push the needle back through the base perhaps a quarter or half inch from where you started. Repeat around the entire circumference of the mirror. This will leave you with a semi-finished looking edge around the mirror. Some people leave it as is at this step, but I prefer to go back over it once more to make a solid border of embroidery around the mirror.
What I do at this point is backstitch ( all around the edge of the mirror to form an anchor for the next step. Then I push the needle through to the front, feed the needle through the backstitch border and down under the shisha net, then over both, then (ever so slightly inching to the side) under both again, then over, etc etc etc. This creates the satin-stitch looking edge that is characteristic of authentic Banjara shisha embroidery.
Once I am done I usually carefully make another backstitch border just to make it look more finished, sometimes in a contrasting color to add interest.

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