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 Ribbon – A Pretty Find


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It is true. I’m a sucker for goldwork. And while I love to do it myself, I also like to find other textiles embellished in goldwork. When very fine goldwork is involved, most textiles embellished with it are beyond my pocketbook, but when I come across a small piece hither and yon, I am just twitterpated enough with goldwork to pocket it. Or, in this case, to buy it.

This past weekend, I was hanging around Kansas City waiting for a flight to arrive, and, as usual, I couldn’t resist I stopping in at Florilegium (in Parkville), which happens to be the same shop where I picked up the Frog Concert button a while ago. And while there, I noticed, up high on a shelf, a couple spools of ribbon spilling over the edge. They were gauzy, and embellished with goldwork, beads, and sequins.

And, as usual when I go into this shop (which I am determined to avoid for the next year because this happens every time I go there!), I’m sure it was whispering to me from on high!

Goldwork Ribbon

And you know… I just had to buy half a yard of the stuff. What really intrigued me was the filling pattern on this leaf. There are three types of metal thread used – a rough purl (top petal), a check purl (the lower right petal), and a bright purl (the foremost petal) and check purl combined. The other petals are worked with beads. All the petals are outlined with ivory thread, worked in chain stitch (I suspect it is tambour work).

Goldwork Ribbon

Looking at the threads up close, I think the bottom thread is a stretched checked sadi thread.

Goldwork Ribbon

This other leaf on the ribbon is worked in the same filling pattern, with the check sadi thread on stretched in lines, and then couched over with purls in an alternating brick pattern.

Goldwork Ribbon

This photo captured the real color of some of the metal threads – a rosy gold, just slightly, and very pretty against the ivory stitching and the white gauzy background of the ribbon.

Goldwork Ribbon

The check purl filling the this petal also has a pinkish hue. But it’s very subtly pinkish.

Goldwork Ribbon

Here’s a distant view of the main motif on the ribbon. Do you like it? I just had to share it with you and get your opinion! Finally… any ideas for a half-yard smidgeon of this? Because…. you see… I haven’t the foggiest.


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(26) Comments

  1. That’s amazing work on a ribbon. I wonder where it was made, and how much the person who made it was paid for it?

    It’d look great on an evening bag – edging a clutch bag or around a little dolly bag (I have no idea what you call them in America, sorry!)

  2. Wow, Mary, that is gorgeous! There is a lot there to serve as inspiration. I don’t know what I would do with it either but I think I would have had to buy half a yard. I think that I would look for a round box, use that on the lip of the lid and embroidery something to compliment it on the top.

  3. Hi, Mary! I totally understand you leaving your precious money in that store… the ribbon is gorgeous! Maybe you could use it on the edge of a small table top… it definitely needs nothing else to distract the eye from this ribbon.

  4. Wow – you did very well keeping yourself to just 1/2 yd. That is gorgeous. I’m not sure how wide it is, but my first thoughts were to use it around the neckline of a square-necked linen blouse, or as an inset waist of a dress. If you had more (not that I’m encouraging you or anything), you could use it as trim along the front and neck of a simple jacket (without lapels). Have fun!

  5. Hi Mary, they are pretty! (And I have a lot to learn to understand what you mean – more searching through your site coming up! XD)

    It looks a bit delicate for decorating anything that will actually be used, like quilt squares or shirt collars. All I can think of right now is to keep it on hand to fondle and gaze at occasionally 🙂 (Which is, in my opinion, a perfectly legitimate function.) Maybe for a wall hanging?

  6. Hi Mary,
    It is just stunning…how about laying it over a lucious piece of dark velvet and framing it in a tall skinny frame and hang it up where you can enjoy it every day? Better yet, grab another piece of it, frame it and use the two to sandwich a tall skinny mirror.

  7. Oh, that is beautiful! I’d not be in too big a hurry to use it; for one thing you need to have plenty of time to admire it and for another, the project needs to be “just right” for something so special to be a part of it.

    I live hundreds of miles from any such store as your Florilegium but since I really daresn’t go in them anyway (have to buy groceries around here or the others object) I suppose that’s a good thing. It surely sounds like fun though!

    Thank you for sharing your finds.

  8. Ohhhhhhhhhh I would’ve grabbed some too! How beautiful. I would find a holiday ornament design or if you’ve any family weddings coming up, perhaps a keepsake bag trim for the bride?

    I’m glad I don’t live near this store 🙂 Now, I just need to keep out of NYC’s garment district (which is sadly shrinking at an alarming rate).

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving,
    Chris R.

  9. Oh Mary!
    That is so gorgeous! And it would be beautiful over the waist of special dress…oh, a flower girls dress or a wedding gown! Of course, I’d probably use it on a crazy quilt project…LOL!
    Great find!

  10. It is exquisitely beautiful !!! So delicate and dreamy !!!
    I’m with Tessa, this should remain in a special treasure box along with your frog button. Imaging this… bad day after a long tiring day at work, no motivation to pick up some needlework…. but,
    Oh !!! My treasure box !!! While opening, eyes getting firsts glimpse of your precious possessions… a satisfying smile forms… you reach for them and rejoice in their beauty.
    (Your day was made and motivation is back !)
    I think we should all have a special treasure box… just because 😉 !

  11. Hi Mary,
    That is drop dead gorgeous ribbon! I don’t know how I would use it most effectively right off the top of my head (although I can see it in conjunction with velvet as a starting point), but what I really know is that I would go back and buy it al! When you decide on a project, you might not be able to find it again. Happy Holidays
    Peg in NJ

  12. My first thought was on a an evening bag clutch. It is a remarkable and beautiful piece of work…made in India possibly?

  13. I know this may seem rather off-topic, but this is so beautifully photographed – the clarity of colors and detail in the focus are perfect especially in this piece that is 3-dimensional. I have struggled for ages trying to get good pictures of my work, especially the pieces with some dimension and just haven’t found how to do it. Either the colors are wrong or the focus doesn’t have enough depth or the lighting isn’t right. Can you say a few words on good photography and presentation?

  14. I used to shop at Florilegium when they were in Madison, WI. I thought they had closed up shop and disappeared! So glad to hear they are still around. LOVED their shop.

    Thanks for mentioning it in your post; I’ve already found several things from them that I need to have…


  15. It is so lovely. I would use it on an evening dress around the neckline, then add some similar embroidery around the rest of the bodice. Or maybe a favorite niece’s wedding dress? I admire you for keeping the purchase to 1/2 yard.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. I would just frame it! It’s beautiful … and I would’ve bought some, too … not knowing what to use it on! I know what you mean about staying out of certain stores. I take it one step further – I have to be careful about which online stores I visit. If I start reaching for the credit card, I have to leave the site!! LOL

  17. I would use it as a trim on a crazy quilt seam Or part of a border on a project. Down the center of a embroidered piece with other embropidery and bead and gold work on each side.

  18. Very nice indeed. My first inclination would be to use it on one side of a very simple gardern-theme sampler/quote like they used to do when illuminating manuscripts…

    My next would fall in with the ‘mount that sucker on black or deep midnight velvet and frame it’ idea….

    It’s not as bright and contrasty as your usual goldwork (that I’ve seen here, anyway), but oh, it is lovely…

  19. I’ve seen similar ribbons being sold on eBay, although I’ve forgotten the name of the seller. Gorgeous ribbons, so I also bought a yard in a green that I’ve still not figured out what to use it for.

    My first thought for you would be the cuffs of a jacket, but that’s not a good place for something that might end up snagging on things. While mounting it would make it nice to look at, the beauty of this type of ribbon is in how the gold sparkles in the sun. So my final thought is maybe putting this on the edge of a silk velvet scarf, which would allow you and others to see it whenever you are out of your home.

    Whatever you do with it, enjoy it.

  20. Wow, Mary, that is to die for gorgeous. I confess I too have succumbed to items of such exquisiteness before today and never actually done anything except drool. If one could afford it, I think it would look fabulous around the fronts and neck of a sheer overshirt, but I am thinking one would need substantially more than a measly half-yard,sadly.
    Good luck with coming up with and idea, and when you do can you tell me too please?

  21. For those who are speculating about where it’s from, and how much the embroiderer would earn:

    Judging from the design and the workmanship, it’s almost certainly Indian, and almost certainly from Kashmir, which is famous for both its goldwork, and its tambour embroidery (called ari embroidery in India, and a type of embroidery almost always performed by men).

    About a year ago, I had the good fortune to visit the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum in New Delhi. In addition to their displays, they have people at the museum producing regional handicrafts for sale. One of the Kashmiri embroiderers had several large samplers with goldwork designs on them, many extremely similar to this design.

    And as to how much they are paid. Well, they won’t starve on their wages, but won’t live particularly well either.
    On my last visit to India, I bought a length of cloth for an Indian kameez (knee-length shirt). It is completely covered in highly detailed Bengali embroidery (running stitch), and yet it, plus extra cloth for trousers to go with it (also embroidered, though in less detail) , cost just 8 dollars.
    Even though the cost of living is lower than in the West, that still represents an awfully low income for the embroiderer. I would imagine that the worker producing this type of ribbon would receive a similar income.

    1. Andrea – thanks so much for your information on the ribbon and its possible origins.

      And thanks, all, for your comments about the ribbon and suggestions for use! Very good ideas! I like the thought of framing the piece, but I think it would have to be on a white background. The ribbon itself is made out of a very gauzy, light fabric, so all the threads that pass across the design are visible, if the ribbon is placed on anything dark. But it would be very pretty framed, in white, in a long frame, and I just may do that! It’d be like having embroidery on the wall for decoration, that I didn’t have to stitch!

      For those who asked, the ribbon itself is about 6″ wide, but the actual embroidered area is only about 2 – 2.5″ wide, so there’s a lot of fabric on each side.

      Thanks again for your input!


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