Shisha mirrors are small, round mirrors used to decorate fabric, often a feature of Asian/Indian clothing.
Shisha embroidery – almost as old as glass itself – has long adorned the clothing of dignitaries and common folk worldwide. Its enduring popularity is no wonder: with the addition of metallic and silk threads, beads, sequins, and other embellishments, shisha mirrors can produce stunning effects.
The combination of geometric shapes in elaborate designs look intricately embroidered, but is quite easy to achieve. The following techniques for shisha embroidery work on ready-to-wear clothing as well as garments of your own making.
Attaching Shisha to Fabric
There are several easy ways to attach shisha to fabric. Before you begin, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want the stitching to show on the inside of the garment. If you are really ambitious, you can remove
the lining from purchased garments, do your embroidery work, and re-line the garment.
If you are new to shisha embroidery, circular mirrors are the easiest shape to begin with (there are no pointed corners to stump you when stitching), but no matter the shape of the mirror, the surrounding embellishment can take any shape. To determine where to place the mirrors onto the garment, first cut paper circles, pin them in place, and hold the garment to your body to see if the arrangement is flattering.
If the base fabric is lightweight, use an iron-on interfacing behind the area where you plan to place the shisha mirror. If necessary, mirrors can be stabilized with a dab of fabric glue. An embroidery hoop also makes it easier to work.
Once you've determined placement you're ready to use embroidery techniques such as needle weaving, modified spider web, needle lace, and French knot to secure the mirrors.
Sound like fun? Check out the article "Shisha Simplified" by Sandy Jandik in Quilting Arts Magazine Spring 2002.