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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Gilt Faconnee: Real Metal Thread for Embroidery


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Gilt Faconnee is a metal thread that’s new to me. I’ve never used it before, and when I saw it the first time, I thought, “Hm. This is different.”

In a sense, it is different. But in another sense, it isn’t.

Gilt Faconnee Real Metal Thread for Embroidery

This is gilt faconnee. The name is odd – translated, I think it means “shaped,” “fashioned,” and maybe at a stretch, we could say “crimped.” And if you take it at its literal value, it is shaped – it’s a “shaped” check purl.

Check Purl Goldwork Thread

This is check purl, cut into chips for sewing onto a goldwork project. I used it a bit in my goldwork pomegranate, if you’d like to see how purl chips can be used in goldwork.

You can see that check purl (also known as bright check purl and frieze brilliant) is shaped, too, in a sense. See the faceted look to it? These facets give it a really nice sparkle!

Gilt Faconnee Real Metal Thread for Embroidery

Faconnee sparkles, too. But there’s a little something extra to this thread, that differentiates it from bright check purl.

Gilt Faconnee Real Metal Thread for Embroidery

Notice that there’s an extra ridge in the thread, that gives it a kind of “spiral wrap” around the tube.

Gilt Faconnee Real Metal Thread for Embroidery

Up close, you can see this spiral jutting out from the rest of the thread, like tiny flower petals. Oooooh. Sparklies. I do so love them!

Gilt Faconnee Real Metal Thread for Embroidery

Purls are tube-like springs made of gold wire, and they’re pretty much all the same type of metal wire, just treated differently as each type is made. From left to right, there’s smooth purl, which is a very smooth, bright and shiny tube; next to that is a “rough” purl, which is still smooth, but the gold isn’t as shiny – it has a nice gleam, but not a high shine; next, is the gilt faconnee, and last is the bright check purl.

The gilt faconnee is not quite as faceted as the bright check purl, but that extra little jutting spiral around the thread gives the faconnee a really pretty texture.

So there’s another real metal thread to add to your arsenal.

Some day, I’ll try out this neat little metal thread. In the meantime, if you have any ideas for it, I’d love to hear them! Have you ever used faconnee in a goldwork project? Any tips? Feel free to leave a comment below!

You can find gilt faconnee at your favorite needlework shop that carries goldwork supplies. If you don’t have such a shop close by (how many of us do?!), you can order it online. Tanja Berlin (Canada) is an excellent source for goldwork supplies. In the UK, you’ll find supplies through various sources, such as Golden Threads, and Benton & Johnson. In Australia, try Alison Cole Embroidery, Mary Brown Designs, and Jane Nicholas Embroidery.


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(13) Comments

  1. Love check purl… look forward to seeing this new stuff and using it soon. I learned goldwork from a teacher named Cindy Jackson, here in Ottawa, who went to the Royal School of Needlework in London. She was a member of my embroidery guild for many years. Have a look at her stuff:


    Its Canada Day tomorrow (Canada’s Birthday), so have a great Canada Day folks!

  2. Hi Mary

    Faconnee is a fairly new wire and is just a variation on the bright check.

    In the spinning process there is a more relaxed spin, therefore the spiral is less often, You can see on the bright check that the spiral is very close together.


  3. I had intended to use some faconne in a piece of heraldic needlework I did on commission about 20 years ago. It looked so lovely whole. However, when chipped up it was barely discernible from the check purl. For that reason I didn’t use it. It remains unused in my stash today. That doesn’t mean there is no good use for it, only that I haven’t found one yet.

  4. Curious how soft these material are? I know that the check purl is quite soft. I am interested in using the faconne on a priestly vestment.

    1. Hi, Peggy – I think it’s the same type of wire. Both – check purl, faconnee, smooth purl, rough purl – they’re all the same type of wire, really, only treated differently. The faconnee won’t be shown off to advantage as “filling” chipwork, I don’t think, but it would look great in chipwork that covers, for example, a vine or a curved edge, or a monogram, or what-have-you. But it’s the same type of spring construction, liable to cracking or smashing if it’s not handled correctly, just like the other purls. Hope that helps! ~MC

  5. I like it Mary, it really shows gold as glittering gold not to be hidden away but shine in its beauty.
    Thanks once again, I’ll contact either Alison or Jane.
    Cheers – Susan

  6. It is really grate Mary.How can I thank you?Oh! I have no words.I’m going to give you a worm biiiiiig KISS.



  7. This is fascinating. I have never actually done any serious goldwork although I have used some of the ‘threads’ in crazy quilting embroideries.

    I have a question, for which this is probably not the right forum, but here goes anyway. Mary your photographs are stunning. Can you tell me what camera you use please? We are thinking about getting a new one, and can’t decide between a ‘point & shoot’ with better resolution than the one we have, or a digital slr. We both need to be able to take good close ups of our work.

    I do hope you can help.


  8. he comensado a bordar purl liso brillante y rugoso. me pueden recomendar un lugar donde comprar, e comprado con rebendedores

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