Sherry Serafini’s Top 5 Tips for Bead Embroidery with Shibori Ribbon

A few short weeks ago, I had no idea what shibori ribbon was, let alone how to use it as a beautiful backdrop for intricate bead embroidery. Sherry Serafini’s online workshop Bead Embroidery: Incorporating Shibori Ribbon Into Your Projects was the perfect introduction to this technique. Based on her popular video, this workshop not only gave me a deep appreciation for Sherry’s beautiful designs, but it made me want to try this fascinating combination for myself.

Sherry’s creativity spills out into her delightfully embroidered pieces using shibori ribbon.

Sherry’s creativity spills out into her delightfully embroidered pieces using shibori ribbon.

Shibori is a Japanese hand-dying technique that results in beautifully tie-dyed, pleated silk. With one color blending gently into another and the tiny pleats creating delicate furrows for beads to nestle into, this ribbon truly complements bead embroidery.

After tacking down the shibori ribbon, Sherry demonstrates how to attach and bezel a cabochon as an eye-catching focal point.

After tacking down the shibori ribbon, Sherry demonstrates how to attach and bezel a cabochon as an eye-catching focal point.

Working with Shibori Ribbon

In her workshop, Sherry walks us through the entire process of incorporating shibori ribbon into bead embroidery. She starts by demonstrating how to attach the ribbon to the beading foundation in a way that flaunts the textures and colors of the ribbon. Next, she attaches and bezels a cabochon – using backstitch and peyote – to serve as the focal point.

Using beads that play off each other, Sherry starts embroidering her piece to bring it to life.

Using beads that play off each other, Sherry starts embroidering her piece to bring it to life.

Then comes the best part: the bead embroidery. Sherry likens developing her piece to putting together a puzzle. “Pretend the beads are all a big box of jigsaw puzzle pieces,” she says. “What we’re going to do is make them all fit.”

Sherry has a knack for arranging the beads just so, bringing out their best qualities by contrasting them with neighboring beads, but at the same time creating a cohesive look throughout the piece.

Hold yourself to high standards as you finish your piece by backing and edging.

Hold yourself to high standards as you finish your piece by backing and edging.

Last but not least, Sherry stresses the importance of finishing your piece with the same care that you began it. She covers backing, edging with brick stitch, embellishing the edging, and even adding a beaded closure.

Sherry’s finished cuff.

Sherry’s finished cuff.

 

Sherry’s Top 5 Tips for Bead Embroidery with Shibori Ribbon

Sherry’s experience with the materials, the techniques, and the subtle nuances of artistic design make this workshop a pleasure to watch. Here are five great tips from Sherry to keep in mind when trying this technique for yourself.

1. Keep your stitches small.

Stitch the shibori ribbon down with very tiny stitches, making sure no long threads are visible on the front. To avoid snagging the ribbon, keep your stitches straight up and down. If you get a snag, though, don’t worry – just cover that spot up later with beads!

2. Stay flexible.

Don’t worry about tacking the entire ribbon down. Having loose areas will allow you to push the ribbon around later as you embellish it.

3. Fit the pieces together.

Think about your project as a puzzle: the white beading foundation is your puzzle board, and your beads and components are all the pieces that you will arrange to fit together.

4. Make it outstanding.

Choose beads that work well together while making the others stand out. For example, combine extremely shiny beads with some that are matte, glossy, or metallic. Use contrasting sizes and shapes of beads as well. Keep in mind that you can create unity in your asymmetrical piece by using the same colors at different points in your design.

5. Finish with care.

When completing your edging, aim to keep the back of the piece as clean as the front. You put a lot of time into it, so finish it with the same enthusiasm as you put into the design.

I have a feeling you’ll find shibori ribbon as fascinating as I do. To get started with Sherry’s step-by-step tutorial, check out her workshop. For a bargain, subscribe to Interweave’s Online Workshops for $9.99 a month and dig into even more bead embroidery courses taught by Tammy Honaman, Kinga Nichols, Nancy Eha, and more.

Go be creative!
— Tamara Kula
Bead & Jewelry Group


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