Mary Corbet

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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

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Goldwork Iris & Threads…


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Last time I mentioned the goldwork iris project, I was befuddled over what threads to use for couching. I went out to the studio, then, and decided to end my befuddlement.

I went through my selection of silk threads to see if I had anything I’d like better to use as the colored couching threads. While out there, I also dug through all my other threads, and happened upon – shock! horror! – some Sulky machine embroidery threads.

So I brought everything I found inside to the iris to do some pondering.

I pondered thus:

Goldwork Iris Project - thread selection

I like the fineness of TESS silk. This is Helen Stevens’s silk thread line, made by the same folks who make Piper’s Silk. But alas, as you may already be guessing…

Goldwork Iris Project - thread selection

… I don’t much care for the colors I have on hand. The greens are ok – in fact, I like them! But the purples leave a lot to be desired, as does the closest color I came to “coral.”

Goldwork Iris Project - thread selection

Pondering further, just for the fun of it, I lined up the Sulky threads. Oh – you have to admit – the colors are really nice! But something…. something…. just grates against the thought of using a polyester machine embroidery thread. *Sigh* Am I a fiber snob? I don’t think that’s exactly it. It’s more a matter of the combination. Silk and gold just belong together!

Goldwork Iris Project - thread selection

But wow. I do like the colors. I like the purples especially…

I furthered my pondering by stitching over the gold with all three threads, the Soie d’Alger I originally started with, the TESS silk, and the Sulky machine embroidery thread.

Goldwork Iris Project - thread selection

The Soie d’Alger is on the left, followed by the TESS in the middle, and the Sulky on the end.

My heart longéd for the right colors in the TESS! I love the look of that fine, flat silk over the gold! And it stitches well over the gold – very nicely! And the fineness of the thread is most excellent for the couching of the gold, varying the distance between the stitches and so forth.

Alas and alack, without the right colors, though, I knew I would not be happy.

I didn’t much like stitching with the Sulky threads. I sort of knew I wouldn’t. It looked ok, but not that great.

What do you suppose my conclusion was?



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(8) Comments

  1. Can;t wait to hear your conclusion, but meanwhile a comment on the subject of threads. I can see why you prefer the silk over sulky quite easily. It is so beautiful! Color is so important and so is the fiber. Good Luck!

  2. Yes, you followed your bliss and went with TESS! I think that there is something wonderful about natural materials. Maybe that is why many of us are more drawn to silk, cotton, wool, and linen.

  3. Mary, we all seem to be in agreement. I admire you. This is a technique that I cannot imagine doing. You are an inspiration.

  4. I think being a fibre snob is a good quality to have. Too many times I have seen something pretty which could have been “stunning” had they gone the extra mile to full silk or real pearls/gems, etc. Time truly is our most expensive comodity so why spend 100 hours making something in polyester, when you could wait a little longer in the planning stage, save up for that lucious silk and spend 100 hours on fibres worthy of that time and effort!!! Hurray for fibre snobs!

  5. Mary i think another way to look at it is your material is to course a weave ,calico or homespun cotton are better for this work check Alisons instructions in her book on the subject

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