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Shisha stitch (variation 1) icon
Shisha stitch (variation 1)

Shisha stitch (variation 1) main image

Shisha stitch is used to stitch small mirrors onto fabric.  It has two stages: the functional element which anchors the mirror firmly and provides a framework for the second, decorative, stage. Two different methods of anchoring the mirror are shown in the image on the left; the decorative element for this version consists of alternate buttonhole and chain stitches which form a decorative ring.

Shisha means glass or mirror in Persian and Hindi.  Mirrors have been used in embroidery across the Islamic world although they are especially noted in embroidery from north-west India to Afghanistan and in central and eastern Europe .  Pieces of mica (a shiny mineral) were used before the invention of glass and are still sometimes used especially in western Sumatra.

Mirrors were not merely viewed as decorative: their reflective properties are credited with deflecting evil spirits. Asian shisha work is normally embellished with other stitches, whereas in Hungary and Croatia woollen and leather garments featured mirrors alongside leather or wool motifs.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) is generously sponsored by Fiona Peters

Method

There are many ways to stitch down the mirrors and other flat objects such as coins, but you could use some glue if you wish to stabilise it before you start stitching.  It can also be used for objects which are not circular (although the foundation stitches may need to be adjusted).
In the method below, the foundation stitch on the top left in the image above is shown without using glue.

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Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 1 photograph
1

Start with a waste knot and make two tiny starting stitches, which will be covered with a circular disc or mirror.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 2 photograph
2

Bring the needle up at the lower left-hand edge and make a horizontal stitch, pulling your thread taut.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 3 photograph
3

Come up at the upper right-hand edge and make another horizontal stitch.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 4 photograph
4

Come up at the upper left-hand edge to make a vertical stitch. Wrap the thread around first the upper horizonal stitch ...

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 5 photograph
5

... and then the lower one. Take the needle down at the lower left-hand edge.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 6 photograph
6

Repeat the process to work another vertical stitch on the right-hand side. This grid forms your foundation.
Now bring the needle up at the lower left-hand edge.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 7 photograph
7

Take the needle under the lower left intersection of the foundation, keeping the thread to the left.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 8 photograph
8

Take the needle down where you first emerged, keeping the thread to the left to make a loop.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 9 photograph
9

Bring the needle up inside the loop to make a chain stitch. The size of the chain stitch depends on how densely you wish to cover the mirror.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 10 photograph
10

Repeat the process: take the needle under the grid foundation stitch, keeping the thread to the left.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 11 photograph
11

Take the needle down inside the previous chain stitch and bring it up to make another chain stitch.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 12 photograph
12

Continue working around the mirror.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 13 photograph
13

To connect the last chain stitch to the beginning of the chain, take the needle under the first chain stitch. Then take the needle down inside the previous chain stitch.

Shisha stitch (variation 1) method stage 14 photograph
14

Finish off the thread on the reverse, catching some stitches to secure the thread.

Shisha stitch (variation 1)

Common uses

Embroidery Techniques

References

  • Mary Thomas, Jan Eaton, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (Revised Edition) (1989) , p.73
  • Sheila Paine, Embroidered Textiles - Traditional Patterns from Five Continents (1990) , p.146-7