Unruly ribbons

While we were away in The Netherlands I worked on a few small projects which had been languishing, half-finished, on a pile surrounded by More Urgent Things. They were two Shisha Tiles and a Christmas Wreath. Getting kits ready for the workshops in October and November I’ve been stitching a fair few of the latter, and I like them better every time. But the ribbon can be a bit of a challenge.

Once the wreath is completed and the bow attached, I arrange the ribbons nicely by curving them slightly (as in all the best Christmas illustrations) and pushing them against the wreath stitches to keep them in place. This usually works, but the problem is that it isn’t a very permanent way of arranging them. Make the wreath into a card or try and push the card into an envelope and suddenly the ends of the ribbon stick out very straight instead of in nice decorative curves. Sometimes this happens without even touching the embroidery, with the ribbon straightening itself out by a sheer effort of will the moment your back is turned.

Curved ribbon ends on the Christmas Wreath Straight ribbon ends on the Christmas Wreath

Incidentally, the second photograph above also shows a different distribution of beads. When teaching non-counted embroidery I’ve found that the “free” in freestyle makes some people nervous. They’d much prefer to have dots showing exactly where the French knots are to go rather than be told to “work some random French knots inside the circle”. So it occurred to me that placing the beads on the Christmas wreath, for which there is no chart or guide, might put some people off. Could a simple circle of alternating red and gold beads down the centre of the wreath be a usable alternative? I think it could; personally I prefer the random distribution, but this looks quite effective as well and will definitely be offered as an option for those stitchers who don’t enjoy randomness.

Anyway, back to ribbons. Would it be possible to secure the ends of the ribbons where I wanted them without it looking as though they were secured? Well, I will let you be the judge – do you think the ribbons in this wreath look as though they are flowing naturally?

Curved ribbon ends, secured

In a completely different project, I was doing some ribbon embroidery. I tried and tried to get a gathered ribbon right – but it just wouldn’t work. It kept coming out far bigger than I had expected and planned. I had originally charted it for either 3mm or 4mm ribbon, so I knew that the 4mm ribbon I was using would come out a little bigger than a 3mm ribbon, but even so it looked ridiculously big. Then it finally dawned on me that the ribbon I was using was actually 6mm instead of 4mm…