Monday, 26 January 2015

Shi-Sha Embroidery with Fly Stitch

Continuing my exploration into variations on the basic shi-sha stitch, I found a very pretty variation, which combines the basic shi-sha stitch with fly stitch, which is a bit like an open-ended detached chain stitch. After completing the stitches all round the shi-sha mirror, the overlapping fly stitches are whipped with a contrasting thread – I used double thickness to make it stand out a bit better.

This is a very pretty effect! For my first piece, I used one of my extra-large shi-sha mirrors, that measures about an inch across. Some of this is covered by the stitches holding it in place, of course.

15 Large Shi-sha with Whipped Fly Stitch

I didn’t actually do the middle quite right, and had to fudge it a bit, which makes it a bit messy. Just to make sure the mirror didn’t drop out, I added an extra row of stitching inside the “setting” – a row of detached buttonhole stitch in the red lurex thread (the sparkliness doesn’t show up on the photo, of course). I used the same thread for the inner outline of the motif. I also added a detached chain stitch on the point of each fly stitch. This single, large shi-sha mirror makes a lovely focal point to the design, I think.

Here are a couple of detail shots.

16 Large Shi-sha with Whipped Fly Stitch Detail

17 Large Shi-sha with Whipped Fly Stitch Ultra Detail

The green and red centre, covering the edge of the shi-sha, is actually more raised than shows in the photo. The whipping over the fly stitches is done with double thickness yellow thread, and I have used the same thread for the detached chain stitches around the edge.

I decided to do another one, this time getting the stitch correct, and adding an extra dimension by making it asymmetrical. This worked very well, and when I added the contrasting whipping, I added extra rows over the longer fly stitches.

18 Asymmetrical Whipped Fly Stitch

Again, a couple of detail shots.

19 Asymmetrical Whipped Fly Stitch Detail

20 Asymmetrical Whipped Fly Stitch Ultra Detail

In this second one, I added some French knots and other embellishments in my turquoise lurex thread. On the three circles below the main motif, in reality there is a lot more contrast between the centre and the edging but this doesn’t show because the camera won’t pick up the sparkle of the lurex thread. I also added a stitch in the centre of each of the larger overlapping fly stitches, using the same thread, to draw the design together.

Like with my recycled mini-album, this project is a learning curve and I am developing my skills as I do it! I love learning new things. I am very pleased to have found this website which has some brilliant tutorials on different embroidery stitches.

I am finding this embroidery project very therapeutic. Like Zentangle, there is a certain rhythm to embroidery, which is very absorbing and calming, and time seems to stand still! I am enjoying this particular project very much at the moment, because I am feeling pretty unsettled after hearing the news that I have cancer, and I am finding it impossible to settle to anything in my studio. Each of these motifs which make up a much larger whole, are like individual small projects and each one can be completed in a few hours. I am averaging about one per day, with the applique ground work having been done several years ago. I am working on them in the sitting room on the recliner, spreading my materials out on my small work table which lives in front of me. My creative mojo hasn’t exactly departed, I realise – it’s merely changed direction a bit.

I have updated my Cancer Diary page today.


  1. Sorry to hear your news about cancer. I'll be following your story and praying for you. Xx

  2. You clever so-and-so! This work is beauqtiful. I can see it is a learni g curve but nevertheless.... well done you!

  3. Mostly I have no idea what you said in your post but I like the idea that a Shi-Sha stitch exists. It sounds very energetic, like doing the cha-cha but with thread. Love what you've been working on. It is just such exquisite work. I don't doubt it is therapeutic as well!

  4. Hi Shoshi, nearly caught up with all my dear friends, that's what happens when you go on holiday. I love your stitch work, gorgeous. Hope you have a great week, Angela x


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