Many moons ago, after compiling and publishing my e-book Favorite Monograms – a collection of 16 monogram alphabets for embroidery – a reader wrote in with a specific embroidery project in mind, using initials from the book.
She wanted to combine two initials into one monogram and work the initials in real gold threads, and she needed some suggestions on how to go about the whole thing.
Today, I want to share with you the results of our correspondence, the methods behind the project, and some thoughts about the whole thing, since I think Debra’s adventure demonstrates a really good lesson on simplicity and success in embroidery.
Debra’s question was clear. She needed a very simple monogram design, with a small C superimposed on a larger T. She wanted to avoid floral lettering, since the gift was for an older male friend.
Her plan was to work the design in real goldwork threads. Although she had never done goldwork before, she understood what it was all about, which made it easier for me to help her out.
I suggested she look at the Modern Roman alphabet in Favorite Monograms, since it’s a clean, trim little alphabet with no extra adornment.
I sent her the example above, on how she could superimpose the C over the T, and she liked it.
A Simple Approach
For stitching approaches, I figured simple is better. For one thing, the alphabet lends itself to a simpler approach. And for another, I knew Debra hadn’t done goldwork before, so I figured simple would be more manageable for her and more likely to end in success.
For the T, I suggested couching gold passing thread or Japanese gold thread just on the outline. You can read about these threads and how to work with them here.
For the C, I figured outlining with a pearl purl and filling with chip work would be a good approach – it would achieve some contrast in the letters and prevent them from being muddled. The whole result would be a simple, clean combination of the two letters in gold. You can read about pearl purl and how to work with it here, and you can read about chip work here.
An Excellent Outcome
Debra took that advice. She enlarged the letters to about 5″ tall and transferred them to a dark purple dupioni silk. The bright gold stands out in beautiful contrast to the ground fabric.
The design is simple and the stitching approach is equally direct. This keeps the project doable in a reasonable amount of time and manageable for a beginner in the techniques. The materials contribute to the richness and beauty of the finished piece, making it an appropriate – and impressive – handmade gift.
The Moral of the Story!
The moral of the story: keep it simple! Embroidery doesn’t have to be complicated to be impressive! I think Debra did a terrific job!
Now, go forth and accomplish equally impressive embroidery feats!
You can find the Modern Roman alphabet available in Favorite Monograms, here, along with 15 other decorative alphabets for hand embroidery. You can find all kinds of tips and techniques that have to do with goldwork embroidery in this collection of goldwork-related articles on Needle ‘n Thread.