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February 12th 2008
archived under: Crafts, Sewing, Step by Step Crafts

Shisha (the Hindi word for “little glass”) embroidery is also known as mirror-work or abla embroidery. Originally, pieces of mica were used as the mirrors, but later, thin blown-glass pieces were broken and used. Today, small mirrors are commercially available for shisha embroidery. If you use these, make sure to file the edges first so the mirrors aren’t sharp.

I like using paillettes, those large sequins with a tiny hole in the side. They’re extremely lightweight, not sharp at all, and readily available in many colors. They worked perfectly in my “Local pride” apron. I also think it would be really neat to use coins from around the world in shisha embroidery.

I’ve recently gotten really into playing with embroidery, and I decided to at the very least do this one tutorial to share my love of the art form with you all. All you handcrafting/DIY-type folks, get ready!

Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to






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  1. Gather your materials. You’ll need fabric, an embroidery hoop, a sharp needle, a shisha mirror (or paillette or coin), and embroidery floss.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  2. Secure your fabric in the hoop tightly. Thread your needle and knot the end of your floss.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  3. Place your shisha on the fabric, and secure it with a crossing of foundation stitches.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  4. Now, duplicate the foundation stitches, but turned 45 degrees… like this.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
    Until you get this.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  5. Now, you could leave it at that, and decorate around it. It’s pretty secure and it looks pretty, right? But if you’re more interested in creating a solid frame for your shisha, continue. Poke your needle up through the fabric beside your mirror.
    Then, slide your needle under the foundation stitches, from the center toward the edge.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  6. Pull your needle through and tighten the stitch, then work one backstitch right next to your mirror.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  7. Now, your next stitches will be like blanket stitches. Again, thread the needle under your foundation stitches from the center to the edge, but make sure your thread is looped UNDER your needle as you pull the stitch tight.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  8. From now on, when you work the backstitch after your blanket stitch,make sure to initially poke your needle through the previous backstitch. This will create an attractive chain around your shisha.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  9. Once I get mine shishsa started, I like to take it out of the embroidery hoop. You can if you want to, but you don’t have to. Keep working steps 7 and 8 around the mirror.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
    This is why I like to take it out of the hoop. It allows me to sort of bend the fabric backward to have more control over my backstitches.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  10. Keep going until you’re finished!
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  11. Are you proud of yourself? You should be! You could stop there, or you can decorate it some more (back in the embroidery hoop for this). I started with a border of turquoise chain stitches, to match my paillette.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  12. And then… oh look! The shisha is shining with happiness!
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  13. I finished mine up with some delightful little french knots.
    Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror-work) embroidery, diy, handmade, needlework, how-to
  14. Enjoy! And join the flickr group to show off your own shisha embroidery.







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