Mary Corbet

writer and founder


I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (61) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Goldwork Sampler – Pattern


Amazon Books

Goldwork is a surface embroidery technique that’s been around for a long time. It has enjoyed popularity since the Middle Ages, and recently is enjoying the renewed interest of needleworkers around the globe. Because of the nature of the material used in goldwork (hammered gold wound around a thread core) and their expense, couching has always been the primary needlework method in goldwork. Just like any other kind of needlework, a great way to learn the technique is to work a sampler. Here’s a design for a somewhat intricate sampler that covers many aspects of goldwork.

This sampler comes from an old book, Church Embroidery by Hinda Hands, which is out of print and no longer in copyright here. The sampler itself is not necessarily church-related in design, as you can see. The author’s purpose in including the sampler in her book is to instruct on the techniques that one should master in goldwork.

My intention here is to give you the sampler pattern, which may certainly be adapted to different uses, and then to unfold for you the techniques suggested by the author for working the sampler.

I think the pattern is really nice, but it’s not really for “beginner” needleworkers. You should at least have some knowledge of embroidery, such as setting up a project (including transferring your pattern), basic embroidery stitches (especially couching), and a certain comfort with embroidery. Now, that’s not to say that, if you’re determined, you couldn’t just set out and try. The hang-up with goldwork is that you do have to lay out a bit of an investment in the materials, but as I unfold the directions for working the sampler, I’ll talk about materials, where to find them, what to use as substitutes (names of materials have changed a bit since the book was written) or less-expensive alternatives, and whatnot.

Here’s the pattern, which you can click on for a larger image. You’ll want to increase the size of the pattern to no more than between 10 – 14 inches across. You can do this by using an image editing program, or you could just use a copy machine.

I’m thinking about working this sampler with willing ladies in our guild this summer, so it will be a while before I can give “live photos” of progress.

Regarding the design itself, the first step I would take is enlarging it to the size I want, then tracing the lines of the design (without the stitching images) on vellum with a fine black pen. Then I’d go from there. There are some modifications that I would make on the pattern before beginning it with needleworkers new to goldwork. For example, some of the spines on the larger leaves call for plate – I would alter this, because plate is not so easy and it would be even more difficult worked in close spaces.

So what do you think of this pattern? Do I aspire too high for beginners in goldwork?

I’m thinking it may also do well “re-designed” for a sampler in silk shading, although I’ve got a different practice sampler for that! If you can think of any other uses for this design, I’m all ears!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(16) Comments

  1. Well, you’ve found my goldwork sampler for me! Definitely my favourite out all of the samplers I’ve seen (and I’ve been looking).

    Probably won’t be able to do it for a year – too many projects already.

    Hinda Hands not help in an Australian library – will have to buy it. (any excuse for a new book! It’s gone on my blog wishlist)

  2. Good morning, Mary!

    I hope that you are enjoying your well scheduled vacation and thank you for continuing to post.

    Are you going to be completing this stunning project any time soon? I would love to follow along.

  3. Hi:
    I have been experimenting with goldwork and metallic threads, including the ones that aren’t thread at all but hollow strands of metal and I am dying to print and try this. Thanks so much for putting it up!

    1. Hi, Sherry – you can copy any of the patterns on the site to your computer. Some of the patterns (most) come with a printable PDF. You can download and print any of them for free! – MC

  4. Hello Mary,

    Did you ever make this sampler? Did you ever work out what threads to make it with? If you did, I would love to know what they were.


  5. Hi Mary,

    I did a workshop a few years ago in Lismore, New South Wales, where I live. The project was the sampler you are featuring on this site. I was immensely proud of my finished result and I had so much fun completing my embroidery. I stitched onto red velvet and I had it framed in a gold frame. It now has pride of place in my living room.

  6. Hello Mary, I’ve just found your web site from another site (Hand Embroidery Patterns) and I already love it!

    For the goldwork sampler, I think it would make a great embellishment on the bottom front of a long(ish) Asian-style tunic; on both sides.

    Thank you for your free patterns, Mary. They will help me immensely.

    ~ Dawn ~

  7. First of all I would like to thank you for a wonderful website, this is simply fantastic! I have examined the Gold work sampler in some detail, and find it stunning. I have an idea it would be exquisite worked facing out and down the length of my dining room table. With te motif repeated facing out and down toward the opposite end of the table. Provided enough space was left between the motifs to allow for a center piece, so that it would not sit directly on your work. If desired a border worked perhaps in simply outlined acanthus leaves might add an elegant touch.

  8. I love this sample pattern. I have not done gold work before. However; i am going to make this and enter it as my embroidery master work for our Medieval teaching group. After I will teach what I learned working with this medium. I have to write a term paper about the history of this art form..I am so excited!!!

  9. Hi, This is just beautiful. Would really love to do it. Could you give me a list of supplies that I would need please. If you can.
    Thank you,


  10. The goldwork sampler is so gorgeous, but I cannot find any directions for the pattern. Do you have them? Or a key to working it? I would love to undertake this project, but all I can find is your printed pattern labeled with alphabet letters…
    Thank you!

More Comments