Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some New Gold Stitches

Moving ahead on Tricia Nguyen's gold masterclass, I've been working on learning some new (new to me, that is) goldwork stitches.  Here is my sampler to this point with the several little new spots of gold, followed by a close up of the my doodle cloth.

From top to bottom, the new stitches are detached buttonhole, chain stitch with buttonhole edging (first try and second try), and guilloche stitch. 

The DBH isn't a new stitch for me, but working it in gold was. . . and I must say, IMHO this is not the very best use for the gold.  To me, it just looks rather messy. . .but then again, maybe in the right application it might be super effective.  On the sampler, gold DBH is done in a small spot sample and then in little triangular patches in a geometric medallion.   As shown in the photo, it doesn't really pop in good overall light. . .but does look much more impressive at night under less even light.  This was a really interesting point Tricia made during the creation of the Plimoth jacket.  The garments were made to be worn in the evening by candle light, and the gold work does look most impressive under that kind of flickering light.

The second stitch is a composite created with a base of chain stitch. . . with buttonhole worked along either side.  I really liked this stitch -- once I worked the kinks out.  I think it would make a really nice wide line. . . possibly an alternate to plaited braid.

The final stitch of this group was guilloche.  I LOVED the concept of this stitch but was frustrated by my inability to keep it quite as even and pretty as it seemed to be in the stitch diagrams.  Maybe I'm too close to it right now, and it will look much better to me after a week or two.  Here are photos of the stitch in the heavier gold and as the veins of leaves made with the thinner silver thread.


So Months 1 through 5 complete. . . Months 6 through 15, here I come.


  1. I think the tension (ie even loops) in your Guilloche stitch is really really good!

    The DBS IS a bit of a mess - but metal thread isn't really designed to make a series of tiny knots, is it? How often do we see gold DBS in extant pieces, anyway? Only for something very small, that I can remember (like a strawberry)

    I notice you've got a bit of thread stripping going on. Will you try one of the alternate gold metal threads Trish sent, and see if they are any easier to use?

  2. I too don't think I remember seeing much DBH in metal threads. IMHO it just doesn't have the same punch as some other stitches in the gold. . . but I know I HAVE seen it...probably in a small motif like you say.

    As to the thread, I am not not NOT a big fan. The Jane Zimmerman piece used a Kreinik cord that was made completely differently than these threads. . . and in some ways that much inferior (in terms of historical authenticity) thread was much easier to work with.

    This stuff ravels like crazy. . . and as you see. . . strips as you work as well. I've started using the very smallest Japanese needle (its eye is really small, especially for the larger thead) to help minimize the raveling, which has helped.

    I'm reminding myself that the stripping issue is at least historically accurate. I think almost all the historic pieces I've seen show some stripping of the thread, so it seems like no one got very bothered by it. I think the key is that these threads were supposed to sparkle in the candle light and given the BEAUTIFUL glittering effect, no one would notice the occasional stripping. Try turning off the lights and looking at a gold work piece lit by a candle or even a flashlight (is that a torch in Australia?). The difference is truly amazing.

    I plan to stay with these treads on this piece. I haven't thought about the others (and don't know where the other metal threads are right now).

  3. I've been having trouble with guilloche stitch too. I think it's partly a matter of scale (as I've been commenting) but partly also that you need a certain sort of stiffness in the thread for the stitch to work.

    The Japanese needle does help, with the stripping, at least. Now I've managed to thread it!

  4. Hi,
    have just discovered your blog and ALL your works are lovely !And how beautiful are the cats too!
    I love historical embroidery but is so difficult to learn it here in Italy, no teachers or classes...
    Have added you in my Blog,


  5. Hiya dear,

    I remember other people commenting the Kreinik in Jane Z's Elizabethan Sampler piece WAS easier to work with - but it is a bit modern, huh.

    Yes, torch, tho we are educated to 'translate American' without thinking about it much. The one I have trouble with is lifts, elevators and esculators.

    The smallest Jap needle? I thought you'd use a larger one. Must have gone mad again. Will have to check my notes. Nope - nothing there. I thought a larger needle eye would help with stripping.

    Did you see the entry on threading gold metal thread with a half hitch?

  6. Hi Megan and Francesca,

    Francesca, thanks so much for your nice comment. Sorry not to write back to you sooner, but I've been on vacation. . . and busy catching up since then. I've enjoyed looking at your blog too@

    Megan, you're right. My experience so far with needle size goes counter to ALL expert advice. ...and I may change my mind as I work further. But so far, I'm finding the thread CONSTANTLY falls out of the larger needle as I work. Worse, since the thread sits rather loosely in the larger eye, there's space that allows the gold wrapping of the thread to unwrap...creating a LOT of raveling issues.

    Please look on this as ONLY my personal observation -- at a fairly early stage of stithcing this piece. Everything I've been taught is that the larger needle would give better results because it creater a larger hole, and thus lessens the friction on the thread.

    I will check out lilystitch's technique. I've used that approach with rayon thread and with "invisible" monofilament thread...but not with the gold. As soon as I catch up with some other stuff, I hope to get back to the gold work, so I'll let you know how it works.

    And how funny that you all tend to automatically translate American English. I'm fairly fluent in British English (have never been to Australia), but sometimes get flumoxed... I do have trouble with "torch". For us that's a flashlight, while a torch is an open flamed light source, and I've had some bewildered momemnts when I imagine all sorts of odd goings on (like using a torch to help you change a tire. . . or is that tyre). LOL.