Illustrated instructions on how to work Shisha Stitch

Shisha stitch is wonderful stitch that has a long and rich history associated with Indian embroidery. Most people have seen little mirrors secured to Indian textiles and for this reason it is also known as mirror work. This form of embroidery has travelled and is frequently found in the traditional textiles of not only India, but also Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and throughout Asia.

Today embroiderers around the globe have adopted and adapted this stitch to contemporary techniques. It is most often used to secure not only mirrors but also small flat objects, coins, stones shells etc to their work. I have also seen cut pieces of CD attached to embroidery using shisha stitch. You can cut an old CD into interesting shapes with heavy duty scissors. You can also cut up all sorts of coloured plastics

If you use real shisha do be aware that it is glass. As you stitch take care not to run your fingers along the side as it can cut you.

How to work Shisha Stitch

How to work Shisha stitch tutorial step 1Commence by securing the glass with two long straight vertical stitches placed at thirds across the disk. If the glass slips get a little piece of double sided sticky tape and stick it to the back of the glass. Make sure the tape is small enough not to poke out from behind the edge of the glass. It does not have to be a big piece just a piece big enough to hold the glass from slipping.

How to work Shisha stitch tutorial step 2Imagine that the disk is the face of a clock. Bring the needle out at the right side of the disk at approximately 4 o’clock.

Take the needle over the first bar stitch and pass it under the thread as illustrated.

How to work Shisha stitch tutorial step 3Pull the needle through. The thread will form a loop around the bar.

Take the needle over the second bar stitch and pass it under the thread as illustrated.

How to work Shisha stitch tutorial step 4Pull the needle through. The thread will form a loop around the bar. Take the needle through the fabric as you have created the section of a frame of stitches that will secure the shisha in place.

Repeat these steps to create the second part of the grid. It looks at this stage a little like a tic-tac-toe grid which is why some people call shisha stitch, anchored tic-tac-toe. You now have the foundation for a frame of stitches that will edge the shisha glass

How to work Shisha stitch tutorial step 5The next step is to bring the needle out at the point indicated in the photograph.

How to work Shisha stitch tutorial step 6Take the needle over and then thread it under the point where the foundation threads cross. Pull the needle through.

How to work Shisha stitch tutorial step 7Make a small stitch along the side of the disk and wrap the thread under the needle as illustrated. Pull the needle through.

How to work Shisha stitch tutorial step 8Then repeat taking the needle over and then thread it under the point where the foundation threads cross. Move along and repeat this around the disk.

Work your stitches close together as these form a frame that contains the mirror.

You can work in a clockwise or anti clockwise direction. Choose what ever direction you are comfortable with.

 

Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods on how to design and make a crazy quilt. Topics such as fabric choice, tricky challenges like balancing colour, texture and pattern, and how to create movement to direct your viewers eye around the block are covered in detail. I also explain how to stitch and build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

Stitchers templates

My templates aim to help you take your stitching to the next level. Designed by an embroiderer for embroiderers. With them you can create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish your seams  with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

using my stitchers Templates set 2These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Stitchers Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 

 

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Long and Short Stitch Tutorial

How to work long and short stitch sample 1Long and Short stitch is used for shaded fillings and often used in ‘thread painting’ as it is wonderful to shade from one tone to another. People often think of Long and short stitch as one of those challenging stitches that mark you out as an advanced embroiderer. Long and short is almost a rite of passage into the world of thread mastery. You often see it worked in silk and adapted to shade the forms of detailed thread paintings.

How to work long and short stitch sample 2There are two “types” of long and short stitch that of the regular straight stitches that block in colours. I have worked this in the first demonstration. The second is Long and Short stitch that radiates or is worked on a curve. When worked on a curve often only the first line is ‘long and short’ establishing a staggered line. From there stitches are added  and adapted to fill the area. The main thing to consider is the direction of the stitches and keep them in line or if you are thread painting follow the form.

As a tip when learning this stitch don’t worry about shading at first. Just focus on mastering the stitch. Use a hand dyed or variegated thread that changes shade if you want to give it a bit of zest but just focus on filling a shape with the stitch. Then once you have that more or less under control change your thread colours to shade a design. Of course it depends on the design but usually you have 3 to 5  shades working a couple of rows of each until you have shaded from light to dark or dark to light which ever the pattern requires. If you are wanting to work something like a leaf or a flower petal in long and short stitch, work from the outside in shading as you go.

How to work Long and Short stitch

These samples are worked on even weave fabric in the thread that is fractionally too thin so that you can see how the stitch is worked. Normally a thicker thread would be used to ‘fill out’ the stitch

To start you work a row of alternating long and short stitches

How to work long and short stitch tutorial step 1The second row and all rows after that are stitches of the same length.

How to work long and short stitch tutorial step 2The last row is worked in half stitches to fill the area evenly.

How to work long and short stitch tutorial step 3

Here I have a sample where the top block is worked in cotton and the bottom block is worked in wool and you can see how the area is filled out with stitches better because the thread is slightly thicker than the demonstration thread.

How to work long and short stitch tutorial step 4This is the way most books illustrate long and short stitch. It means readers have the impression that long and short stitches must be on every line and that the stitches must be an even length. It is not the case it is Ok to adapt long and short stitch to the shape you are working.

How to work long and short stitch tutorial step 5Long and Short stitch radiating inwards, outwards or on a curve.

Many stitchers get themselves in a fluster when the shape they have to work needs to radiate inwards, outwards or the shape requires curved shading. To work long and short on a curve or in a radiating manner first work 3 or 4 radiating long stitches.

Between these long stitches tuck smaller shorter stitches as illustrated.

Continue radiating the stitches outwards tucking the stitches in on each row. To do this place the point of the needle between the stitches, not back in the same hole as the previous row of stitches. This ‘tucking’ between stitches will mean you can you work long and short on a curve or radiating outwards.

How to work long and short stitch tutorial step 7This tucking in method produces a smooth surface.

How to work long and short stitch tutorial step 8As I have just said this stitch can be used to fill areas very effectively and shaded to produce some painterly effects. In the samples above both the butterfly and the unicorn was stitched in single strand DMC cotton.

How to work long and short stitch sample 4This is a contemporary sample which was shaded using long and short stitch at the top right hand area and chain stitch is mid way. It is interesting to compare the two as both can be used to shade areas and it is wonderful to work with hand space dyed threads.

How to work long and short stitch sample 3Here another contemporary sample that is contrasted with highly textured stitches. I hope you enjoy long and short stitch.
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Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods on how to design and make a crazy quilt. Topics such as fabric choice, tricky challenges like balancing colour, texture and pattern, and how to create movement to direct your viewers eye around the block are covered in detail. I also explain how to stitch and build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

using my stitchers Templates set 2Stitchers templates

My templates aim to help you take your stitching to the next level. Designed by an embroiderer for embroiderers. With them you can create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Stitchers Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here