How to use Shibori Silk in Beading

What is Shibori Silk?

Shibori Silk is a type of ribbon, that uses a Japanese dyeing technique involving binding, stitching, folding, twisting and compression of silk fabrics.  When used in beading projects, it provides a beautiful backdrop for adding beads and embellishments to.

I've never tried making it myself. I tend to buy pieces from beading suppliers like Beyond Beadery. It comes in a multitude of colours and differing lengths - usually about 18in x 4in, and is pleated and dyed, ready to use. 

beyond beadery shibori silk

How to use Shibori Silk in Beading

As a background fabric, Shibori Silk is the perfect addition to bead embroidery projects, where the gorgeous colours of the silk ribbon can be a feature, especially when the swirls and pleats of the fabric form around a cuff or statement pendant piece.

I like to use Shibori Silk as a feature in pendants, earrings and cuffs, and first used this in a project I leant from Sherry Serafini at a class at the Bead and Button Show in 2014.



This cuff's sutble grey silk is finished with pearls, captured bezeled crystals and lots of shiny seed beads and edging. Using the Shibori Silk gives a textured feel to the piece, without having to overwhelm it with beading. 

Bead Society of Victoria Challenge

In 2015 the Bead Society of Victoria had an annual challenge, using a theme of blue and purple beads. I created this Shibori Silk cuff as my entry piece, with an asymmetrical closure, and a netted edge. Techniques I'd learnt with Sherry are also applied with this piece, such as the bezeled crystal. 



Steps for Using Shibori Silk

1. Cutting the Shape

With the fragile nature of the silk, it needs a foundation fabric to hold its shape. A stiffening fabric like 'Lacey's Stiff Stuff' is ideal for this. 

I first cut a piece that will be the base of my piece out of foundation fabric. I usually add a 5mm edge, so that the piece is a little larger than the finished piece. This will be trimmed away later. 

foundation fabric shibori silk

I then cut a piece of Shibori Silk the same shape as my foundation piece. So, if I am making a tear drop shape, the silk will have to be carefully trimmed to the same shape, keeping the pleats and folds intact.

2. Attaching the Silk

Carefully tack the silk to your foundation piece, using a stitch about 5mm apart. Try and keep the 'long' thread of your stitch to the back of your work, and only have a tiny front stitch showing through the silk.

Attach the silk all the way around the edge, stitching as close as you can to the edge of the fabrics, being held together (foundation and silk). 

3. Decorating the Silk

Use a range of bead embroidery methods (couching stitch, fringing, capturing a bezel, bead embroidery etc) to decorate the front of your piece, going through the silk and the foundation fabric. 

The key is to keep the silk in focus, and not cover it too much with the bead work, but to make sure that the silk is firmly attached with the beads and edge stitches. 

4. Finishing the piece

Once you've added all your decorations, the piece needs to be edged in bead embroidery 'blanket stitch' method. To make sure the back is neatly covered as well, you'll need a piece of ultrasuede, cut in the same shape as your piece and glued to the back of the foundation fabric. At this time, check the size and remove any edge that is too large for your piece, making sure that you don't cut off any beading thread holding beads to your piece.

Glue your ultrasuede to the foundation piece, and then use the blanket stitch to finish the piece.

5. Decorating the edge

With bead embroidery and Shibori Silk, there can be some slight fraying of the edges of the silk, so you will need to embellish the edge of your blanket stitch edge on the 'inner' side to your piece. Adding a 'netting' or 'fringed' style stitch covers over any frayed edges and gives your piece a beautiful edge. 


Thank you! I do hope you enjoyed my methods of working with Shibori Silk and Beading! 

Until next time, 


Chief Beader

On A String

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