Mirror Work Embroidery Techniques

Written by susan deily-swearingen
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Mirror Work Embroidery Techniques
Adding mirrors to embroidered patterns is a method craftspeople in India use to add dimension to their designs. (embroidery image by vnlit from Fotolia.com)

Mirror work embroidery is most often associated with Indian and Asian design. An important part of Indian cultural designs in general, “minuscule mirror embroidery is done on heavily embroidered yoke with white thread, mingled with red, orange, blue and green, by the Garari Jat community," according to India-Crafts.com. Vibrant colours and threads of cotton or silk are important components of this type of needlework.

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Types of Mirrors

Not all mirrors used in this style of embroidery are created equal. Indeed, not all reflective additions used in embroidery are even mirrors. Sometimes shiny minerals such as mica or handblown glass are substituted. Sequins and other shiny man-made embellishments can also be used.

When mirrors are used, they are not restricted to a circular shape. Mirrors are available in round, square, triangular or polygonal varieties.

Mirror Usage and Placement

Mirrors are used to accentuate the bright designs of the embroidery. They can be used to create a specific component of a literal design or merely as a point of interest in an otherwise abstract geometrical pattern. Either way, the reflective quality gives an almost three-dimensional look to an otherwise flat design. The mirrors are placed in holes that have been cut to shape in the fabric. They are then held in place by a set of structural stitching that is covered over by the visible and more elaborate embroidery stitches.

Stitches

As with most needle crafts, there are many types of stitches used in mirror work embroidery. The majority should be familiar to those skilled in needlework. The stitches used can include chain stitch, detached chain stitch and herringbone stitch. In some pieces, experienced embroiderers will also spot stem stitch, satin stitch and blanket stitch around the mirrors.

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