How to End a Stitch in Silk Ribbon Embroidery

There are a few ways to end a stitch in silk ribbon embroidery. There aren’t any strict rules which method to use in any particular design or with any particular stitch, so you can pick out the one you like the most and stick just to it, or you can alter them whilst stitching. Some methods work only for narrow ribbons, so the options are quite limited with 13mm ribbons, but as for the most popular 4mm silk ribbon any method works. All in all, it’s a good idea to look through all the ways of ending stitches with silk ribbons, so you are fully armed with the basics.

Method One: Securing with Sewing Thread

This method works well for all ribbon widths, and it is recommended especially for wide silk ribbons (7mm and 13mm width). Using sewing thread that matches background fabric and Finishing off the stitchan embroidery needle, stitch the tail of the ribbon with tiny stitches to the back of the fabric (see photo on the left). If you use two layers of fabric to support your ribbon embroidery, try to pierce only the lowest layer of fabric, so the stitches holding the tail in place are not visible on the front. In case you use only one layer of fabric, position the stitches so that they are hidden under the embroidery on the front.

High quality silk ribbonsIt might be a good idea to secure ribbon tails only after the whole embroidery is finished. If you decide to go for this option and leave all the fastening off to the end, try not to leave long ribbon ends dangling on the back. Clip them short, about 1 to 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) in length. Otherwise you’ll be catching and pulling those tails accidentally all the time, whilst stitching. You can also ‘weave’ those tails over and under the stitches at the back, so they are out of your way, but be sure to secure them with a sewing thread after you finish.

Method Two: Finishing with a Knot

This way of fastening off is good only for narrow silk ribbons (2mm and 4mm width).

Finishing with a knot- silk ribbon embroidery (1)1. Using a blunt tip of your needle, where the eye is, pass it under the previous stitch on the back of the fabric,  leaving a loop.

Finishing with a knot- silk ribbon embroidery (2)2. Then bring the needle through the loop.

Finishing with a knot- silk ribbon embroidery (3)3. Tighten the loop very gently, pressing the stitches on the back with your finger while pulling in order not to ruin them on the front.

Method Tree: Stitching Through the Tail

The method is perfect for 2mm, 4mm, and 7mm wide ribbon.

Fasten off - ribbon embroidery (1)1. When you want to change a colour or a ribbon, leave the ribbon tail dangling free at the back.

Fasten off - ribbon embroidery (2)2. Thread a needle with a new ribbon, and knot it with a regular or a soft knot. Then whilst making a stitch with the new ribbon, piece the free ribbon end, so it securely pinned to the back of the fabric.

Fasten off - ribbon embroidery (3)3. Clip the tail short and carry on stitching with the new ribbon.

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Whether the method you prefer, do not be put aback by using knots in silk ribbon embroidery.  As you know, it is not recommended to stitch with knots in traditional techniques when you stitch with floss, like, for example, in crewel embroidery, silk shading, stumpwork, blackwork, and so on. It is absolutely fine to use knots when stitching with ribbons, as here you usually have two layers of fabric supporting stitches. Moreover, silk ribbon embroidery pieces tend to have rich texture, so tiny knots here and there do not add any discernible bumps to your embroidery on the front. So relax and enjoy!

2 thoughts on “How to End a Stitch in Silk Ribbon Embroidery
  1. Catherine Armstrong

    I learnt ribbon embroidery recently in Tanzania. Now back in the UK I find it very hard to get the ribbons I need so any advice would be appreciated! Haven’t come across many tutorials like this so am very interested in seeing more.

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