Generally speaking, almost any fabric will work for stitching with silk ribbons. If your fabric is good enough to stitch with embroidery thread, then it should be good for ribbons too. You do not need any special fabric for silk ribbon embroidery. The only thing you need to pay attention is how tightly woven your fabric is. A tight fabric weave puts more friction on the ribbon and ravel it out. It is also much harder to pull your needle with a piece of ribbon through that sort of fabric.
How to check if fabric is good for ribbon embroidery
Here is an example of shredded ribbon because the chosen fabric is densely woven (photo on the left).
In case you aren’t sure that your fabric is suitable for stitching with ribbon, try to pierce it with a chenille (size 18) needle. It should go through easily. If you cannot pass the needle through, than the fabric has a high thread count, so you better take another one. Follow this rule of thumb if you have any concerns about your fabric.
Trying various fabric for stitching with ribbon
Whether it cotton, linen or silk fabric – all of them are good for silk ribbon embroidery. You might also like to try stitching on velvet or denim fabric, but they are slightly harder to deal with.
Felt is a good choice too. It is very soft, and it does not damage ribbon as much as any other fabric. It also does not fray which is always an advantage when you make your embroidery into something. I stitched a few cushions some time ago using felt, and it was very easy and enjoyable. I posted a tutorial with some of them here on the blog: cushion 1 and cushion 2.
Using patchwork cotton for ribbon embroidery
Another my favourite fabric is cotton that is used for patchwork and quilting. It usually has weave that is loose enough to pull silk ribbon through easily without damaging it. Cotton for patchwork comes in a huge variety of colours, and you can buy it everywhere, almost in any craft shop which is very handy. Not only plain fabric is suitable, be adventurous and try patterned fabric as well! The finished piece will look more interesting on it. I prefer using polka dots, checks and stripes or more complicated patterns in subdued colours that do not dominate over my stitching. For example, in this tree tutorial, I am using a leaf patterned fabric which goes well with my embroidery. I think if I use cotton, I prefer pattered fabric over plain one. It just makes even a very simple embroidery look more interesting and even cute!
There is another tip a want to share about using two layers of fabrics in case you embroider on silk, and you can find it in my next post.
Stay safe and enjoy stitching with ribbons!