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

  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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229 Comments

  1. Very Useful Tutorial about embroidery

  2. Great idea Wonderful designs

  3. These are the best instructions I have found for sewing mirrors in embroidery, thank you ??

  4. Very useful content for beginners. Beautiful embroidery stitching techniques. Also feels good when someone shares this kind of experience.

  5. Lovely design great mirror embroidery.

  6. Very useful tutorial. I tried to stitch one and it looks beautiful, and loved it much. Thanks for it.

  7. excellent tutorial, love it

  8. Hi!
    Your blog is really wonderful and helped me a lot in my college assignments. It was great fun to work according to your instructions which were really simple even to a newbie like me. Thanks a lot!

  9. Just gave me a great idea for reusing CDs, rather than throwing them away. CDs are easily cut into shapes and then the shapes could be embroidered onto fabric…I’ll post it when I get some done. Thank you, Gina

  10. Finally someone who actually knows (one of the words) the meaning to Shisha, and I found this tutorial very helpful and the idea is very cute, and to those who think Shisha is a “slang” term for smoking, well you are all wrong

  11. That was a great tutorial and very easy to follow. I hall be making myself a bedspread soon. Thank you!!!

  12. very nice take me back in memory lane with that shisha… i first learn that embroidery 30 yrs ago on a coin …still lov doing it … enjoy reading it..

  13. […] I don’t think they will work, they are too thick, like 3mm or something and even with them being embroidered onto the octagons, I’m afraid they will stand out like ti..is, ungainly sight if you ask me. […]

  14. […] to the homeless shelter, where it will find someone less endowed who will love it. I also learned how to apply shisha mirrors to embroidery. Actually, I am substituting large paillettes for the mirrors, I read that mylar was easier to work […]

  15. […] also learned how to apply shisha mirrors to embroidery. Actually, I am substituting large paillettes for the mirrors, I read that mylar was easier to work […]

  16. It’s looks absoluetely amazing! 🙂 I was looking out for the steps to do this embroidery stitich..thnx a lot! It was very helpful!(Y)

  17. I am just about to start a knitting project that “needs” windows. I think that I can adapt this technique for knitted and felted fabric. Thank you!

  18. I appreciate, result in I found exactly what I was looking
    for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a nice day. Bye

  19. It´s wonderful. I love it. cann wait to start doing it

  20. An excellent tutorial – clear and easy to follow. Thank you. I’ve not tried this before, although I’ve seen it, so I must now go ahead and do it.

  21. Tutorial Indian Shisha (mirror) Embridery Joyful Abode
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  66. these are gorgeous! I have so many outfits with mirror work, but never figured out how it was done.

  67. Thank u very much, you have saved my time a lot as i working on this. The you have shown the tutorial was excellent. Once again thank u.

  68. Thank you so much for your clearly photographed and written instructions! I am so excited to try this with shells, stones and other found objects besides mirrors! Also have enjoyed reading your blog!

  69. Wow thats so cool n super easy thnx fr sharing jazakallah

  70. How cool is that?!! We have a bunch of paillettes–I’ll give this a try today. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  71. Hand embroidery artwork for sale. We wholesale and retail traditional Chinese hand embroidery artwork for your home decoration and everyday use. Buy silk embroidery from us at a reasonable price.

  72. nice tutorial.really loved it..can u just tell me how to do mirror work in a triangle shape

  73. Love the detailed post! What camera are you using to get those macro shots? Sorry, I’m still new at this embroidery thing and I wanted also to try out DIY stuff. Your blog is an inspiration 🙂 Thanks again!

    Kristine
    http://wear-diyfashion.blogspot.com/

  74. Thank you, your explanation is really good and clear. I have always wanted to have a go at these pretty decorations and now I can.

  75. wow!!!..its wonderful..n very nicely illustrated..

  76. Olá, Emily… Este tutorial é tudo que eu a muito tempo queria!!
    Obrigada por compartilhar!!!

  77. Thank you so much. I want to teach my Year 10 Textiles group shisha embroidery and your tutorial made it so easy to pick up the technique. I am yet to try it myself but thanks once again

    Kind regards

    Debbie Smith

  78. 2 2 2 cool…I’ve got to try that!!!

  79. What a great tutorial. The photos are clear, and the mystery is solved! Thank you.

  80. Hi
    you works very beautifull,please send me enother your works.thank u

  81. Oh, well. It is such a nice stuff but it’s hard to do it I know that. Cross Stitching make me bad, (not too bad actually). Great tutorial for everybody, it is great and I appreciate it!

  82. beautiful- this art form has always caught my eye and now i can make an attempt at it. thanks so much for the tutorial! 🙂

  83. Thanks so much for this. I’m making hip belts for bellydance and this is perfect.

  84. Great tutorial. I love the word “Shisha”, it is a simple mirror that can be hang inside in your house. I want to try it. Thanks much for sharing this great tutorial. Keep sharing!

  85. […] the more i read, the closer to perchta i felt. and then, the final, amazing coincidence; i read that in some regions, perchten are decorated with small pieces of mirror… and literally HOURS beforehand i had linked, ON the krampus makers group on facebook, to a tutorial about shisha stitching — the stitching of small mirrors on to cloth. […]

  86. Have you regarded as adding extra video clips in your websites to help keep readers a lot more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was really great but as I’m more of a visual learner,I found that being more useful. Just my my idea, Good luck

  87. Wow it is really simply amazing handicraft! I love to have it but i hate to make it because for me it is really hard to do especially using needles, gosh I’m afraid of using that kind of stuff. The craft is really nice and thanks for sharing.

  88. You’re awesome to write this wonderful tutorial! I thought I was going to have to buy a bunch of pre-stitched shisha, but heck, I can do this. Thanks so much! Now I’ll go look at the flickr group!

  89. […] Для написания статьи использовался материал – Tutorial: Indian Shisha (mirror) Embroidery […]

  90. Thanks Emily! its a very nice and clear tutorial. I have been wanting to learn this for such a long time. I have already finished stitching four mirrors onto some block printed cloth. Going to try get some large pieces of mirror and stitch em up 😀

  91. hi…
    love this shisha work.. but the problem is, i cant find these mirrors in us.. can u tell me how did get them?
    thanks

    • Hi, I stay in India and I can help you getting the mirrors. These mirrors are available in our markets. I can supply crafts in very reasonable rate with appropriate shipping. Please mail me at sonu.eyes@gmail.com if you need such mirrors.

  92. Thanks,i was searching for mirror stitch i got it in a very easy n clear way.very very Thanks

  93. and i always wondered how those cute frames are done… so simple and so beautiful, amazing tutorial! cheers from ireland, eliane

  94. There are definitely a assort of particulars same that to stomach into . That may be a discriminating train to carry up. I cater the thoughts above as popular inspiration but there are questions fitting the one you transmit up the area crucial aim testament believable be working in dear keen faith. I don?t bang if someone practices individual emerged around things like that, I am certain that your job is recognised as a fresh gamy. boys and girls rattling believe the scrap of exclusive a second’s pleasance, for the intermit of their lives.

  95. Great step by step clear images – fantastic!
    Will use them in my textiles classes.

  96. Absolutely amazing tutorial. Thank you!

  97. It’s really awesome.. But could you please upload this technique as a video in youtube?? It’ll be more easy to understand..

  98. do you think it’s possible to do this w/ larger mirrors? I’m thinking mirrors about the size of my hand, or something like that. perhaps if I used a dab of glue to help support the weight?

  99. I really like your tutorial. It’s very informative and helpful. I really appreciate that.

    Thanks for sharing information with us.

  100. Great tutorial! Nicely taught. Would definitely try it out!!!!!!

  101. loved the shisha tutorial.
    where can i buy these mica-shisha mirrors.

  102. Can you tell me where I can BUY these little mica/shisha mirrors? Can’t find them in a google search.

    Love the tutorial, nicely done!

  103. This was a very good tutorial. I love the colors, too. Now to work it into my decor…hmmmm. Shouldn’t be a problem!!

  104. Very useful tutorial.I tried to stitch one and it looks beautiful,and loved it much.Thanks for it.

  105. Thank you for such a detailed & well structured tutorial. I cant wait to start! 🙂

  106. I was longing to learn shisa-work it was simply supreb teaching which i could learn so easily. I wish u teach also the kutch-work.

    Thank u .
    ushamouli

  107. Wow,
    I excited and really thank you for teach me the mirror work I ever like. I Expect more embroidery..

  108. I just got back from India and have been eying all my mirrored purchases, wondering how I could do the same. THANKS!

  109. The clearest pictures of how to sew on shisha mirrors I have seen!

  110. My mother used to teach me the art of embroidery when I was 12 years of age. And now I'm 27 years old and managing an embroidery business. This business is really in demand most especially in teens who loves bags and other accessories with a touch of style and uniqueness.

  111. I used to use this application back in the “70's.” AHA, the good ole days. Alas, too much time has gone by and I couldn't remember how to do it. Thank you so much for your detailed tutorial.

  112. Thanks so much for this beautifully clear set of instructions.

  113. hi really helful tutorial, bt do you know were i can buy ready made material with this embrodiary, i want to sew an indian outfit.

  114. i think this is helpful to people outside india,to learn

  115. thanks. can u send me some other methods and designs to stitch shisha mirror

  116. Thanks a lot for the easy to follow instructions. could u pls. instruct me to stitch diamond shaped mirrors on to the fabric?

  117. Thanks a lot for the easy to follow instructions. could u pls. instruct me to stitch diamond shaped mirrors on to the fabric?

  118. loved the shisha tutorial. it was simplified and explained beautifully! thanks so much! love u guys!

  119. It's georgeous!! can't wait to try it out

  120. thanks for this site and tutorial, i love embleshing and embriodery and shisha just grab my fancy, wanted to learn for so long, atlast now will try it couldn't have done it without you. =) God bless!!!

  121. Thank you! I got the shisha idea from my British magazine and couldn't find the shishas to complete the sampler! Awesome instructions. Thanks for taking your time to do this for us newbies to Hindi embroidery art! You ROCK!

  122. Thank you for letting me know… how horrible! I can't believe that someone would steal my entire post including my photos and then TAKE THE CREDIT too!!! Everyone is like, “Wow, you're a star! Great tutorial – thank you so much! Beautiful photos!” and that lady is like, “You're so welcome, everyone.”

    B*TCH… (yes it makes me angry)
    I think I will have to make an account so I can respond there. I am SO upset.

  123. thanks very much
    some mirorr of this work(gray mirorr) is lead reflective layer
    Iam persian conservator haritage & reserch of this mirorr wrok
    can you help me

  124. thank you sooooooooooooo much …..i found the right thing i was looking for….im doing the shisha stitch on my cushoin 4 mu JC homeeoconomic exam so i was looking for instruction
    …………………again thanks its helping me….

  125. thanks for such a wonderful material . it is really wonderful.u explained it with a neat photograph . thank u for sharing such a needful work with everybody

  126. Thank you for your clear instructions and photos. This is the best that I have seen yet and feel confident that I can decorate dance clothing with shishas now. Best to you, Beth

  127. Thanks, this was perfectly clear and very helpful.

  128. WOW! Thanks for sharing such a fantastic tutorial. I’m really looking forward to trying out this technique on a tank.

  129. Thank you so much for posting this helpful tutorial. I had struggled with the basic dictionary of embroidery stitches guide and had ended up with just s mess. Your explaination was so simple and the pictures so clear. Many thanks.

  130. Very beatiful “Mirror work”. You explained with photos is the core of this mirror work learning and you made it so simple with photos.
    Thanks for sharing your art work.

    Payal

  131. wow a lovely clear tutorial with good pics
    i feel i might be able to tackle a plush team challenge now
    cat xxxx

  132. Hi
    wonderful tutorial. Even though I had learnt it as a child, ( Long Time back ), I had forgotten the basic how to .
    Recently I read a query in About.com Cross stitch forum about attaching a penny. I have taken liberty of forwarding your photo and URL to them of this excellent tutorial.

    Bless you !
    shobha

  133. Its a wonderful tutorial! helpful for me to design a frock for my swetteeee….

  134. Barbara, the large sequins are just from a craft store… you can also get small mirrors at craft stores, but they are heavier than traditional Shisha mirrors. So if you want to go authentic I’d suggest googling for an online source!

  135. Looks great tutorial. Any help with suppliers of sisha mirrors or the very large sequins you used would be helpful.
    Look forward to having a go.
    Regards,
    Barbara

  136. hey this is amazing…its my parents’ 25th anniversary and i wanted some mirror work on a lehenga (indian) … just that i dint really get a clear picture of how it wud be done or how it wud look after the thread on it… and it looks fab… im gonna get the same thing done with golden and silver thread!! thumbs up!

  137. This is a great tutorial! I’ve wanted to know how to do this for some time and you’ve made it seem so easy! Thank you!

  138. A lovely, well-explained and illustrated tutorial. I have been looking for a supplier of the mirrors for quite some time. I live in Saskatchewan, Canada, and cannot find them locally. Can you suggest a source?

  139. Beautifully explained and neatly executed!

    Excellent!

    I will try and get this listed on my website.

  140. Paulette, I’m not sure about doing the ovals, but the idea is the same… just create a “web” over it in a way that you think would hold it steady, then do your shisha stitching around it. I’d get a couple of similar mirrors and practice on other fabric before restoring your antique choli. Good luck!

  141. I was wondering if you have bit larger inch oval mirror to restore missing shisha mirrors on an antique choli, do you make the same kind of spiderweb design on it. I think some of the threads would be too far away from the edge and create an uneven edge. What do you think? I will be looking forward to hearing from you.

  142. […] learned how to do shisha embroidery from my tutorial, then used it to add a gemstone to a hat she made for a […]

  143. This looks really easy to do based on your tutorial. I’m going to bookmark it so that I can come back to it later and try it!

  144. […] Joyful Abode has an easy to follow tutorial on how to embroider shisha mirrors.  What are shisha mirrors you ask?   They are little mirrors that are used to embellish clothing, […]

  145. This is great – the photos really helped explain the ‘blanket stitch’ part. And the suggestions of coins, big sequins and the like were great!

  146. Nice. Its just a shame nobody uses stuff like that anymore. Oh well…

  147. I just “stumbledupon” this tutorial…it’s really great…can’t wait to try it!

  148. that’s just too cool, i like it!

  149. That is so pretty. I just love the look. Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks!

  150. Wow. That is sooo gorgeous and inspirational! Thank you for sharing! The flickr photos are amazing as well.

  151. Wow, than you so much!!! I have wondered about this for years and have wanted to do it for just as long. Why I didn’t just google it, I have no idea…but the tutorial is fabulous and I’m going to give it a whirl this weekend. Who knew it was that easy??? I’m thinking if I can embroider than, what else can I add to clothes? LOL. Thanks again, it’s a great tutorial and it was fabulous of you to share.

  152. Wonderful tutorial. I can’t wait to give this a try later today. Thanks so much!

  153. I have always wanted to know how to do this. This is so exciting, I can’t wait to try it! Thanks, very well explained!

  154. Found you via the CRAFT blog — what a great tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ll have to try it sometime!

  155. This is the best tutorial for this kind of stitching I have found! The photos help a lot!!! Thank you for putting this online.

  156. This is by far one of my favorite tutorials you’ve done! Thank you so much for sharing it =D

  157. This is a great tutorial!! Your photos are fantastic and the tutorial is really full of details! Got to give this a try 😉

  158. That’s gorgeous! My mother had a shirt like that, and I absconded with it sometime when I was in grade school because I /loved/ the “mirror shirt.” In fact, I think it’s still in my dresser at my parents’ house. Thanks for the nostalgia fodder and for telling me what that kind of decoration is called.


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