S-ing along

Fun! Fun! Fun! After a week of debate, indecision and uncertainty, I took the plunge and decided how I was going to work the border of the Colors of India Project.

It’s heart shaped and quite wide. I always envisioned it as being quite an important part of the design and wanted to use different metal threads and techniques for the border. I was inspired by borders on the designs in Jane Nicholas’ new book Stumpwork and Goldwork Embroidery Inspired by Turkish, Syrian and Persian Tiles.

I finally decided to begin with S-ing using deep orange purl I got when I visited Benton and Johnson. It’s a rich color, not brassy and cheap looking as are so many of the colored metal threads.

Following the very clear instructions in the A-Z of Goldwork with Silk Embroidery, I had immediate success. In fact, I was so pleased with how it looked after about 8 pieces were attached, I cried out – “Ohh!” and my husband came into my studio to see what the noise was about. Isn’t it a great feeling when you try something new and are successful?

The next few photos give you and idea of how easy it is to do. I used stranded cotton (doubled) to attach the purl. Don’t forget to wax the thread – it makes it stronger so the ends of the metal thread won’t cut through it.

It’s really important to cut each piece of purl to the same length. This will ensure that each “stitch” is even and that the finished line of stitches looks like stem stitch (which is the idea). I used my ruler to make sure the pieces were the same length – I don’t trust my eye for this kind of work.

To begin, bring the thread up from the back one cut purl length from where you want the first stitch to go. You will be taking the purl back along the line on which you are stitching.

Slide a piece of purl onto the end of the needle. It’s so much easier if you bring the little tray to the needle. (The tray is from Tracy Franklin – she makes hers and you can make one too. It’s a large yogurt lid with a piece of velveteen glued in the bottom. Ingenious!)

For the next stitch, the thread comes up half a purl length below the first stitch.

Slide the purl onto the needle and down to the base of the thread, right next to the fabric.

Take the needle back and next to the previous stitch. Pushing aside the piece of purl slightly with a mellor, laying tool or tweezers, take the needle to the back on the stitching line. The end of the second piece of purl should be tucked under the first stitch slightly.

As you add one piece after another, a line forms that looks just like stem stitch. It’s really quite magical! On the bottom point of the heart shape, I carefully manipulated the piece of purl to go around the corner by holding the middle with my laying tool and then couching down the bend so it didn’t move. It worked really well. I have no idea if it’s the “right way” but it worked, so I’m happy.

I like the texture that the metal thread adds to the embroidery. It looks especially good when looking at the work from the side.

Now it’s time to move on to the next segment of the border. I’ll let you know how it goes in a few days…

11 thoughts on “S-ing along

    • Hi Alison,
      I’ve backed the silk with muslin type fabric. It’s actually a thin cotton of some kind that I bought at the Stoff Markt (fabric market) and I don’t know what it is but it works great! Muslin would be just the same…but I couldn’t find it! Here’s an article about how I set up the project, including backing the fabric. Hope this helps!
      Liebe Grusse,

  1. How lovely to see how the effect was acheived and the result is really lovely. You should be really pleased with yourself.

  2. Pingback: Beetle wing embroidery: the design and accompanying goldwork | Wear When Why

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