China Ribbon Embroidery

China ribbon embroidery is a form of decorative needlework using narrow China ribbons instead of an embroidery thread of some kind. 

This type of work was fashionable from about 1820-1850, when it was often used to decorate dresses and men's waistcoats. Favourite embroidery motifs included sprays of flowers and leaves. The leaves and stems were often made using chain stitch, satin stitch or stem stitch. China ribbon embroidery fell out of favour in the 1850's, partially due to the popularity of Berlin wool work.

It was revived in the 1880's under the name of China ribbon work, or Rococo work (this should not be confused with a form of cutwork, with the same name). It was used for indoor caps, as well as domestic furnishings, such as table cloths, mats, sachets and so forth. The ribbons were sometimes made into three-dimensional flowers tied with ribbon bows.


  • CAULFEILD, Sophia Frances Anne and Blanche C. SAWARD (1882), The Dictionary of Needlework, London: L. Upcott Gill, pp. 67-68.
  • CLABBURN, Pamela (1976). The Needleworker’s Dictionary, London: Macmillan London Ltd., pp. 60, 227.


Last modified on Tuesday, 09 May 2017 19:47
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