Leaf brooch: finishing and finished

Once all the metal thread work was done, the last steps were to assemble the brooch so I could wear it. The metal threads make the brooch quite stiff, especially the pearl purl on the outside edge and up the center vein.


The calico that the brooch is stitched on is a good, relatively thick backing fabric so that also gives strength to the brooch. The first step was to cut the finished brooch out of the larger piece of calico on which it was stitched, leaving an edge of calico all around the metal thread work. This edge of calico is folded back under the metal thread work before the felt backing is glued on.


The first thing I did was to stitch the tip together. I will go back later and finish the tip. To bring the sides of the calico together, I stitched it the same way you would lace up an old fashioned corset.


As I worked down the sides, there was extra fabric that needed to be eased in using small holding stitches. You can see it in the photo below.


Once the sides were pulled together, I snipped the bottom curve into sections so it could be eased together, each piece overlapping the one next to it. The last step was to snip the point and fold those ends onto the back and tack them down. To be honest, I knew what I wanted to achieve and had a vague idea of how to do it but didn’t have “A PLAN”. I wouldn’t change what I did but I think I’ll refine it in the future.


The next thing to do was to stitch the pin onto the backing felt. For this I used gold colored sewing thread.


Lastly, using a small brush, I brushed some PVA glue into the middle of the brooch. I then used a toothpick to run glue around the edge of the brooch and then gently pushed the edge of the felt down to meet the gold pearl purl. I kept rotating the brooch, gently pinching the felt and the pin together to ensure a good bond.


Lastly I had to leave it alone for 24 hours so the glue could set. Finally I could take this photo, in the sunshine, so you could all see how it looks! I am REALLY pleased with it and would not have had enough knowledge or confidence to create my own brooch if I hadn’t done Jenny Adin-Christie’s brooch first. Her kit taught me so much! Thank you Jenny!


I’ll be wearing my brooch at the Knitting and Stitching Show so if I see you there you will get to see it up close and in person!

Has my experience encouraged you to try a brooch of your own? What shape would you choose?

Leaf Brooch: How to attach Silk Purl

After I’d attached the pearl purl to the outline and center vein of the leaf and before I attached all those lovely little pieces of purl, I needed to attach the thread that would form the veins that run from the center to the edge of the leaf. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use the beautiful silk purl from Benton and Johnson. I also knew that the veins had to be slightly curved. Usually with metal purl you cannot slide  couching thread between each of the individual curves. However, with silk wrapped purl I was able to do this and it made attaching the purl in a curve very easy.

The first step is to insert your needle up from the back and through the fabric exactly where you want one end of the purl to be attached to the design. Next, slip the piece of purl onto the needle and gently slide it down the couching thread. I used a #12 needle as anything larger wouldn’t go through the narrow purl.


The next step is to slide the silk purl all the way down the couching thread ( I use waxed sewing thread) so the end of the silk purl is sitting on the fabric where you want it to be. Insert the needle into the fabric on the top side, ready to go through to the back exactly where you want the other end of the silk purl to sit. This is why it’s important to ensure your purl is the correct length whether you want it to lie in a perfectly straight line or to be slightly curved. In this case I wanted the silk purl to be slightly curved so I cut the purl a little longer than the distance between where it would be attached.


Once the piece was attached, I used my wooden laying tool to gently nudge it into place so the curve was going in the correct direction – following the bottom curve of the leaf. I then brought the needle up right next to the top edge of the purl. I placed the needle on the opposite side, making sure that the angle of where the thread would lie was in line with the split in the purl. This way the couching thread would slide easily into the space and not crush the purl.


Gently, slowly, carefully I pulled the thread through until I felt and saw the couching thread ‘click’ into the groove in the purl. As I moved toward the deepest point of the curve I made sure my couching stitched followed the curve.

I followed this procedure all the way from the bottom to the top of the leaf. I couched down two pieces of purl in each of the four colors moving from darkest to lightest toward the tip.


The spaces that were created by the divisions of the purl were now ready for the chip work with all those tiny bits of gold and copper metal purl.

One of the things I like best about the silk purl is that it doesn’t bruise as easily as the metal purl. Already i can think of loads of ways to use this beautiful thread and I’m hoping to purchase more colors when I’m at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London!

Have you ever used silk wrapped purl? How did you use it? Do you like it? Let us know!



Leaf Brooch: Purl chip work

If  you’re interested in metal thread work and not familiar with Hazel Evertte’s book “Goldwork” you should try to find a copy to look at and decide if you can honestly live without it. It’s packed with information, instructions and ideas. In fact, her book gave me the courage to try an idea I had for the leaf brooch. It wasn’t a new idea and certainly not original but she talked about it and has a photo of it in her book so I had no qualms about using this technique on my leaf brooch.

What’s this technique? Chip work using purl threads rather than check thread. Often chip work is done using check thread because the jagged edge of the check really sparkles when it’s applied in tiny chips. For this project I didn’t want sparkle as much as I wanted a glow and a mix of colors.


To fill in the areas between the silk wrapped purl veins, I decided to use a mix of gold and copper colored purl cut into tiny, tiny pieces and applied in a random pattern. You can see in the photo above the mix of the two colors of purl thread.

Now, lots of people don’t like chip work. They find it tedious and too fiddly. But I love it! It’s like doing very delicate mosaic work with beautiful, miniature, metal tesserae.


The secret is knowing how to do it and what tools are indispensable. For this project I used a #12 needle (very thin!) # 2 gold and copper purl threads, metal cutting scissors, gold coloured sewing thread, wax and a shallow box lined with velvet. The threads are cut into small pieces inside the box with the scissors designated only for metal threads. I tried to cut them so the length of the thread was no longer 1 and  1/2 times the width. It’s always a guesstimate and it’s easy enough to cut the pieces again if they’re too long.

When threading the piece of purl onto the needle, keep the purl in the box. The velvet lining in the bottom of the box keeps the purl from jumping out and sliding all over, so it’s easy to catch the piece on your needle. This is my “top tip” and it makes it SO much easier!


Once you have the tiny piece of purl on your needle, tilt your needle tip up towards the ceiling. The purl will slide down the needle and onto the thread. Keep yur eye on it because it might need a gentle nudge with you finger to help it slide down the thread.


Slide the piece of purl all the way down to the fabric where you will attach it. Then insert the needle through the fabric right at the end of the purl. Give it a very very gentle tug if it doesn’t sit securely down on the fabric.

To achieve the random effect, alternate the colors you choose each time. You may place the same color side by side but the overall effect will be a blend of colors. Try not to place many pieces of purl lying in the same direction – ie – three next to one another all going vertically or horizontally. This will catch the eye and ruin the effect of randomness.

DSCF3433Here is the leaf partly finished. you can see how beautiful the mix of colors is and how the pieces of purl have sometime bent to snuggle in together. This is OK as far as I’m concerned when doing this kind of chip work. If I was laying the purl down to make a formal pattern where each piece was meant to lie perfectly straight next to one another, the twists and kinks would not be acceptable. In that instance I would always strive to make each piece as perfect as possible. Here, however, that isn’t the effect I want and I like the kinks and bends.

In Havel Everette’s book you can see loads of examples of different metal threads used in chip work. I love them all and can’t wait to try another one!

Do you like chip work? Have you tried it? Let us know!