Monday, 5 October 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks July - Sari Silk Ribbons

Am a bit behind on my posts for the travelling sketchbooks considering we are now into Autumn and these are July's pages but no matter. My inspiration for July then was to use recycled sari silk ribbons which are the waste produced from factories in India making silk saris which get sewn together end to end and then wound into 100g hanks, approximately 60 yards of vibrant jewel toned colours that can be knitted, crocheted, spun, woven or used to wrap gifts in place of ordinary ribbon.

The manufactured waste which are the left over scraps that get swept up off the factory floor would normally be destined for landfill but groups of enterprising women from India and Nepal have got together to produce the hanks of ribbon which they can sew from home and then sell enabling them to become self-sufficient and provide an income for themselves and their families to buy food, medical care and send their children to school. 

So then, what to do with said ribbons.  I turned to experimental textile artist Maggie Grey's book Stitch, Dissolve, Distort which she co-wrote with the late textile art designer Valerie Campbell-Harding. Full of inspirational techniques using machine embroidery combined with all sorts of mixed-media.  One of the techniques in the book was to weave strips of paper and organza so I substituted the organza for sari silk ribbons instead. I used black paper which had previously been used for experimenting with acrylic paints and printing.

I then free-machine embroidered over the woven fabric and paper. 

Another technique I used was to needle felt the sari silk ribbons onto fabric.  I used a piece of black cotton here which I thought would be an ideal contrast for the jewel like colours of the ribbons. 

I love using my Janome embellisher which looks like a sewing machine but has no thread, just 5 barbed needles that quickly does the job in minutes. 

I can highly recommend working with sari-silk ribbons because they are so versatile.  You can pick  them up on the internet and they are always on sale at any of the quilt and textile shows and the money you pay for them goes to such a worthy cause. Happy stitching.


  1. Try back stitching with the sari strips into carpet canvas…. or knitting with them…. or creating braid with them….. lots of uses - I love them too!!!

  2. Yes I love them. You can get a lot of mileage out of them.