Thursday, August 11, 2016

Making Silk Ribbon Ornaments with Ellen Byron

It's Crafty Thursday and author Ellen Byron is here to show us how to make Silk Ribbon ornaments. Ellen has been nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. The second book in the Cajun Country Mystery series, Body on the Bayou, launches September 13th. Before Ellen became a novelist, she wrote for TV, where her credits include Wings, Still Standing, and Just Shoot Me, as well as network and cable pilots. Now get ready for some crafting. 

I love silk ribbon embroidery. The results are lovely, and it’s less complicated – and costly – than other needlework crafts. Not only can you can stitch it on all types of fabric, you don’t have to follow a diagram or painted canvas, so you can free-form a design.

For this blog post, I made a felt ornament. (If you’re interested in making a sachet instead, I recommend using a lighter, more porous fabric.) To celebrate the trade paperback release of Plantation Shudders, and the upcoming release of the second book in my Cajun Country Mystery series, Body on the Bayou, I decided to embroider two iconic Louisiana blossoms, the iris and the magnolia. I also went with a thematic New Orleans color scheme of purple, gold, and green. 

Here's what you'll need:

  • An embroidery hoop
  • Needles
  • Four colors of green 4mm silk ribbon for the leaves
  • White and 3 colors of purple 7mm silk ribbon for the flowers
  • Embroidery thread
  • Sparkly thread
  • Felt

A few basics before you begin…

To anchor a fiber, tie a small knot at the end of it, leaving a short tail. 

To tie off at the end of a fiber strand, thread the fiber through other fibers on the back of the project, make sure it’s secured, then snip off the excess. 

Now, let’s stitch!

For the magnolia: Using white 7mm silk, stitch enough puffy straight stitches to make the blossom. (I used eight.) You can use the flat back of your needle to fluff each stitch out. Place one green 4mm silk straight stitch in the center, then add three small straight stitches using a single strand of yellow floss. (See photo of the magnolia for placement.)

For the magnolia leaves: Below the blossom, use green 7mm silk and the ribbon stitch to make two dark-green leaves. Sew veins using a stem stitch and a single strand of green floss.

For the iris: Using dark purple 7mm silk, make three ribbon stitches. Add a straight stitch from a single strand of yellow floss to each of the three petals.  Above them, make one light purple (7mm) ribbon stitch. 

Sew the stems using the stem stitch and a full strand of green floss. Sew the leaves using either a straight stitch or twisted straight stitch.

To assemble:

Using your hoop as a guide, draw a subtle circle around your project. (If you look closely, you’ll see my green marker circle.) Cut out your project, and then use it as a pattern for a backing circle. (I made mine out of purple felt.) Place your stuffing on the backing circle and pin the two circles together. (FYI, you’ll see that I used some old surgical squares that I had lying around as stuffing. You can use cotton, pillow stuffing, fabric. Pretty much anything will work.)

Use the blanket stitch to sew the fabric circles together. You can add beads like I did. If so, make sure you buy the right size of bead. It has to fit over both your fiber and needle.

And there you have it - a charming, folksy ornament to hang around the house or on your Christmas tree. If you’re interested in pursuing this hobby, I highly recommend this series of books: 

Have fun, and send us photos of your finished projects!

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