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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Outlining with Gold & Silk


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It didn’t take long to leap into the outlining of the monogram on the Medallion Project! I showed you the finished monogram yesterday – yes, it was wonderful to get the lettering all filled up with the long & short stitch! But all the while, I was dying to get to this part, eager to see if my plan would work, if the threads I chose were correct, if the monogram would look “finished” with the outline in place. I’m pretty pleased with the results and can’t wait to charge ahead to finish up the outlining.

Today, I’ll show you what I’m doing to outline the monogram, and down the road a bit, I’ll give you some tips that help make the process a bit easier.

Goldwork & Silk Hand Embroidery

To create the outline, I’m using two threads: Soie d’Alger silk (three strands) in the darkest blue of the four shades of blue I’m using on the whole project, and a real metal (goldwork) thread called Lizardine, in size 1. You can see how to create this kind of twisted silk and gold thread edge by reading this tutorial on stretching pearl purl and winding it with silk.

Lizardine is a goldwork thread that is similar to pearl purl, but not quite the same – it’s flat, compared to the round, beaded look of pearl purl. To see the difference between these two metal threads, you can check out my comparison of Lizardine and pearl purl goldwork threads here.

I’ve found that the Lizardine in size 1 is the perfect size for outlining the monogram. It fits right up next to the raised edge of the long and short stitch. It’s a wonderful thread for this type of outlining. I find it easier to control than pearl purl, it holds its shape very well while still being a bit more flexible than pearl purl, and it pinches easily (with tweezers) into nice sharp corners.

Goldwork & Silk Hand Embroidery

In this photo, you can see all the threads I’ve used on the Medallion Project so far. In the scheme of things, it’s not a long list! We have, from the background up, Soie Ovale (a flat silk) in creme; Elizabethan Twist (a real metal, 2% gold thread) couched in squiggles with a 100 wt silk sewing thread; Soie d’Alger (stranded silk) in four shades of blue, and Lizardine.

Goldwork & Silk Hand Embroidery

The outlining works up fairly quickly, so I should be able to finish it over the next day or so. Then I’ll share some tips with you on the whole process of this type of stitchery. There are a couple little handy things to know, to help make this particular technique a bit easier.

Not that it’s hard, mind you! That’s the funny thing about goldwork embroidery – it’s an exquisite embroidery technique and rather labor-intensive, but if you take the stitches themselves at face value, it’s not really a difficult technique. So more on that, later!

You can follow along with the whole Medallion Project from start to finish if you like, by visiting this index of articles related to the project.

If you’d like access to all the tips and techniques discussed in the Medallion Project, including complete step-by-step coverage of the Tudor-Style Rose, conveniently collected in one document, interlinked, referenced, and indexed, why not add the Marian Medallion Project e-book to your library? It’s packed full of all kinds of embroidery tips for undertaking a project like this, all in a convenient electronic format for easy searching.


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(34) Comments

  1. Wow – all of your work with the long and short stitching through the felt pays off with the outlining. It is perfect! Very beautiful. Wishing you fast stitching for the rest of the project.

    1. Full Disclosure: My college colors are blue and gold, so…yeah, I’m gonna loooove this color combination anyway.

  2. I LOVE the combination of the blue silk with the lizardine rather than couching solid gold purl around the letters! I think it gives the design more richness and sophistication–great choice, Mary!

  3. Home Run Mary! I was already in love with pearl purl & you’ve managed to put another metal thread on my shopping list. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or dollars on the money tree! Thanks.

  4. Oh, YUM….it looks like you had this glorious spiral of gold that just happened to get threaded on the deep blue silk.

    Absolutely incredible. I bow to the absolute expertise and mastery involved (not to mention the persistence and patience!).

    Just gorgeous.

  5. Woah!! The edging makes the monogramming really stand out. From a distance it almost has beaded effect (at least in the picture). Really gorgeous.

  6. Mary, nice tip about how being flat the lizardine snugs up so well to the raised split worked area. I had not thought about that. I can see how that would keep a crisp look to the raised edge and not give you the slight wavy look you get with pearl purl. Good thinking! I shall give that a try – thanks for the idea!

  7. OK – yesterday you said “it was all filled” so I thought it meant the initial was done. Imagine my utter amazement…surprise… gasp when I opened your email today. WOW! The outline took the piece over the top.

  8. Thanks very much for your comments, everyone!

    I’m itching to get out there and get the rest of the outlining done. Now that I know it “works”, I can’t seem to get it off my mind! This is the part of goldwork that is addicting!

    Thanks again!


  9. Do you ever have those moments when you see something, and you instantly know that it’s perfect? That’s how I felt when I saw the outline on those monograms. 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have seen similar finished edges on goldwork projects but never knew how they were achieved. Now that I have seen it and with your wonderful tutorials I am anxious to try it. Thank you again for sharing.

  11. Mary, thank you so much for sharing your progress with us. On this and your other projects, I’ve learned such a lot about all aspects of embroidery. And the beautiful designs and colours and skill are really inspiring.

  12. This is beautiful Mary. I know you padded the letters the gold outline really makes the monogram stand proud of the rest of the medallion.

  13. Oh, I like this. When you first talked about outlining the monogram with gold, I pictured a solid gold cord couched into place. But I like this much better. It complements the gold “squiggles” perfectly. You seem to know just what will go with what…. lots of practice, I guess. Will you be outlining the “fleurs” too?

  14. You are doing a fantastic job on this design! I am looking forward to your next post. I always love your work, but this one takes the cake!

    Dawn C.
    SouthCoast, MA

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