Playing With Shibori Ribbon

February 10, 2017 , In: Fiber, Jewelry, Tutorials

If you’re like me, you tend to spend way more time than you should looking at other people’s creations. I justify my hours spent on Pinterest, Instagram and Etsy as research and inspiration! It really is a good way to see what other artists create and keep up with new techniques and products. The very first time I saw silk shibori ribbon used with bead embroidery on Pinterest I was mesmerized by the folds of the silk and the movement that the ripples create. I kept searching for bead/jewelry artists that use it in their work and took visual notes of how they use it. I just had to figure this thing out!

So the first thing I did was google a supplier of the beautiful ribbon. I found that Shibori Girl has the best colors on the market-they are yummy! When you take a look, you will want them all. Problem is, she sells out so quickly that it’s hard to get sometimes. There are a few beading and craft sites that carry her silk ribbons if you just google Shibori Girl you will come up with a few. If you are lucky enough to get to some of the larger bead shows you may be able to find suppliers there as well.

Shibori Girl ribbon looked so beautiful that I was worried about buying something that I might make a mess of- soooo, that led me to try and create my own before purchasing her fabulous ribbon. I found 4″ raw edge, bias cut silk ribbon and used the technique that I found in the book ‘Shibori Designs & Techniques’.  Fire Mountain Gems also has a great tutorial.

Silk Shibori Ribbon

My results were not even close to the beautiful ribbon that Shibori Girl has but it was a good learning experience and something that I may try again one of these days. The ribbons I dyed and pleated are the rust/gold and dark purple. My pleating is not as uniform but can still be used in designs. I believe my problem was not allowing it to steam long enough to set the pleats.

I was still a bit skeptical of trying it in jewelry designs so I used it in one of my beaded pieces from my year long project of ‘Goddesses’. And since it was my first attempt ever at using shiborri ribbon I used my own purple ribbon and just left the raw edges hanging at the bottom. (photo below)

May’s Beaded Goddess

When I finally got brave enough to use a piece of the Shibori Girl ribbon I paired it with one of fellow AE member Jenny’s polymer clay goddesses. (below)

Goddess Brooch Using Shibori Ribbon & Jenny’s Goddess

After some pondering over what I created and how I could do things differently-I decided to try again. This time I decided to do 2 pieces pretty much simultaneously and keep a record of what I was doing as well. The pieces I have created are completely different as far as using the shibori ribbon goes & one piece is a pendant for a necklace and the other is a bracelet.

I am sharing with you my details just in case you have always wanted to try it and like me, was afraid!  Disclaimer: I am not an expert, just trying to figure it out on my own.

The pendant I created is done using one of Jenny’s ceramic goddess pendants. I cut the shibori ribbon in half lengthwise because I didn’t want so much bulk on this piece. I also cut it crosswise to fit under the pendant before I glued the pendant down so that the pendant would sit flat on the bead foundation. BEFORE you glue down your pendant & shell, make sure that your ribbon is placed where you want it and take very tiny tacking stitches through the ribbon into the beading foundation. These tiny stitches will hold the ribbon in place until you start adding beads.

Top L-Placement of Ribbon, Goddess & Seashell; Below L-Beaded Bezel; R-Beading Around Shell & Close-up of Tiny Tacking Stitches

As you can see from the photo above in the lower left, I am beading across the ribbon at the top to not only tack it down but to create a nicer edge than just leaving the raw edge of the ribbon. The excess will be cut away once I glue the backing on and then edge stitch. Once I beaded a bezel around the goddess and a semi-bezel on the shell I continued adding more beads. I had drawn an outline initially just as a guide, which of course I didn’t fully use. (I rarely use guidelines-I just wing it!)  I used beads sparingly along the folds of the ribbon. I have seen others bead the ribbon so heavily that you can barely see it. For me, it kind of defeats the purpose of using this beautiful ribbon. So I just do a sprinkling of beads. With the shell at the bottom and the color of the ribbon it felt like this was a goddess rising up out of the sea. I thought just some small beads as ‘bubbles’ in the water would be sufficient.

Upper L-Finished Beading; Upper R-Trimmed Excess; Lower L-Trace Around Pendant; Lower R-Substrate Glued On Back

When I was satisfied with the beading I trimmed away the excess leaving about 1/4″ or less around the beading.  Since this is not fully beaded the piece felt a little ‘floppy’ in the area between the goddess and shell so I added a substrate (I used watercolor paper, but any heavy weight paper will do) I always do this on any beaded pendant/brooch if the piece is rather large and feels like it might fold over in the center. I just trace around the pendant, then cut the piece out about 1/4″ smaller than the traced area. I don’t want the substrate to go all the way to the edge since I will need to pull a needle and thread through it when edge stitching. Once the heavy paper was glued down I glued my backing fabric on-I always use ultrasuede. Once the was glue set, I trimmed the backing fabric and edge stitched as well as created a bail to attach the pendant to whatever necklace I decide to hang it from. For photo purposes I grabbed this beautiful golden sari ribbon that Lindsay sent me with the leather cab from last month’s Component of the Month. It looks so good I may keep it this way and just add clasps.

Shibori Goddess Pendant

For the bracelet, I measured my wrist to determine the length, keeping in mind that I was going to stitch on a clasp. I drew a template measuring 6 1/4″ x 2 1/4″ and cut out my beading foundation this size.

I decided to go BIG with the ribbon this time-I used the full width of the shibori ribbon on this piece. I played with the placement & drape of the ribbon as well as where I would place the focal stone which is a heart shaped druzy agate.  I decided to twist the ribbon and see how that would work. Once I was happy, I pinned it down to hold it in place.

Top-Shibori Pinned In Place; Bottom-Deciding On Placement of Focal Stone

With the bulk of all that shibori ribbon where I twisted it I knew there was no way I was going to glue the stone down. So I glued it to a separate piece of bead foundation and beaded the bezel first. (photo below) I could have just bezeled without any bead foundation but opted to go with the foundation since it raises the stone up a little higher. I like it sitting up a bit especially since I have that big pouffy ribbon rising up beside it. Once it was beaded I trimmed around the stone. (below photo)

Bezel Beaded Separately & Trimmed

The shibori ribbon was tacked down with very tiny stitches and I stitched through the bezeled stone to attach it firmly to the ribbon and bead foundation.

Top-Shibori Tacked Down & Druzy Tacked down; Bottom L-Beading Around Heart; Bottom R-Beading In the Pleats.

After tacking down the heart I beaded around it with some freshwater pearls. The colors of this shibori ribbon just begged for pearls so I went with it. I used freshwater pearls, some 3mm glass pearls and some size 11 seed beads. No particular design just covering up the bead foundation and using beads in the pleats to ensure the shibori is firmly attached.

After I was satisfied with the beading, I placed it on my ultrasuede backing and traced around the bracelet, then cut it out and lightly glued the ultrasuede on.

Upper-Trace Around Bracelet Bottom-Cut The Backing Fabric

After the glue was dry I beaded around the edge and added a clasp.

Finished Shibori Cuff Bracelet

Additional Views Of Shibori Cuff

Now that I’m not so afraid of using this beautiful shibori ribbon in jewelry I hope to be making more pieces. I also plan to explore using it more in bead embroidered wall art like the purple goddess above.

I hope I have inspired you to take the plunge and try using shibori ribbon in your designs. It appears much more fragile than it really is. I was worried while I was beading the bracelet that I was going to crush those gorgeous pleats and curves, but it survived.

If I come up with any new tips or ideas for using it I will let you know. Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have questions.




Cathy Spivey Mendola

Cathy Spivey Mendola has been creative her entire life. After a short career in the medical profession she became a stay-at-home mom which allowed her to dabble in various arts and crafts. Many years and mediums later she has finally found her passion-bead embroidered jewelry. When she needs a break from jewelry she creates bead embellished art quilts and wall hangings.
  1. Reply

    This is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing this interesting technique.

    • Reply

      Thank you Karen! The silk ribbon is luxurious & surprisingly easy to work with.

  2. Reply

    Oh my gosh that ribbon is fantastic! Love what you’ve done with it, especially the green Goddess brooch 🙂

  3. Reply

    So gorgeous! The color blends and pleating of the silk give a sculptural quality to
    your beautiful bracelet. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

    • Reply

      Thank you Laura! Yes, the colors of the ribbon are just amazing. The computer screen doesn’t do them justice. And the folds in the pleating is just perfect for tucking beads into.

  4. Reply

    Gosh, all the pieces are beautiful! I am surprised by myself that the bracelet is my favorite of all since the other colours are more “me” but your way to use the ribbon and let it be the main actor is really stunning!

    Oh, and I also have to admit… our own purple silk was my personal favorite of all silks… and I would have chosen your golden/rusty one as my second favorite 🙂

    • Reply

      Thank you Claire! I am normally drawn to the darker colors like the purple and golden silk that I dyed. But the colors of the ones I bought are just so yummy and I really love that gray piece even if it does fade into a pinkish color (which is not my favorite). I think the sublety of the colors and they way they blend together is just so wonderful.

  5. Reply

    Absolutely stunning!

    • Cooky
    • February 12, 2017

    Simply beautiful!

    • Arlene
    • February 13, 2017

    I love what you did with the ribbon I’ve bought some silk pleated ribbon but haven’t made anything to completion but bought to do jewelry design and am inspired with your blog and will get mine out and do some more…. thank-you arlene

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