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 Embroidery Frame: Linen, Felt Padding, Silk & Gold


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Friday at Last! Happy weekend!

Today I’m going to show you a little progress on my goldwork frame project that I started a few weeks ago. We’ll talk about what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and what I’m doing it with, while sharing a few tips along the way.

And, if you’re keen to try goldwork, or you want to read more about it, you’ll find some links at the end of the article for further explorations.

This is the bit that we’ll be talking about and looking at up close:

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

If you’re just joining in, you can find the set-up for this project here, and a discussion of materials that I’m using here.

Once the slate frame was set up with the linen ground fabric and once I’d gathered all my threads and appropriate goldwork tools (like this tool and beeswax), I was ready to start stitching!

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

Before the fun stitching got underway, though, I had to tack the felt padding onto the linen. (Actually, I like this part a lot – probably because it’s too easy to mess up much!)

I use 100% wool felt for padding under this type of goldwork. I usually get it here from Weir Craft – I like their European felt, which is affordable and comes in a really nice range of colors.

If you are looking for a yellow wool felt for padding goldwork, they offer two colors that I think are decent – “butter” (which is a light gold-yellow with the very slightest orange tint that gives the gold look) and “yellow” (which is a pretty straightforward bright yellow).

Incidentally, don’t go by the color on your monitor! I ordered their swatch card because I had bad luck with choosing colors based on those shown on the website.

I pinned the frame in place before tacking it on, making sure that the whole thing was good and round.

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

Using a coordinating yellow 100/3 silk (Soie 100/3), I tacked the felt into place along the inside and outside edges.

When you tack felt padding into place for goldwork, bring the needle up in the ground fabric and take it down into the felt, about 1/8 – 3/16″ into the edge of the felt.

If you bring the needle up into the felt first and then down into the ground fabric, this can shift the placement of your felt. You’ll get a much neater edge and much more accurate placement going from ground fabric into the felt with your tacking stitches.

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

The first thread down is the Facette Gimp – a silk-wrapped crinkled gimb with a wire foundation. I talked about it in this article on materials for this project, and it’s one of the threads available in the Frostings #3 box coming from Thistle Threads this year.

The Facette Gimp is beautiful. It’s wrapped with a flat filament silk (like Soie Ovale) and it’s just lovely! It’s a heavy thread, though – quite fat and plump – which presented a little problem when working it in a circle inside this frame.

I couched the thread with Soie Gobelin in the same color blue, following a line drawn on the felt. By the way, there’s no reason you can’t draw or transfer a guideline on felt when doing this kind of work. It’ll be covered up, anyway, and you’ll get much better results than you would if eye-balling the placement of the thread around the circle.

But what do you do with a really fat wire-wrapped bumpy thread, when it comes full circle and meets its other end?

In goldwork, the norm is to plunge threads to the back. But this really is a rather heavy thread, and I didn’t want the visual disruption of two plunged ends butting up next to each other.

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

Enter: Soie Ovale from Au Ver a Soie, in the same color blue.

I mentioned in my materials article last week that one of the most wonderful things about Au Ver a Soie silks is that their vast range of colors coordinates across every type of silk they offer. So, with this gimp in #277, I just needed some Soie Ovale – which is their flat filament silk – in the same color, #277, to make ends meet.

My ideas was to butt the ends together, with just a slight overlap so that the ends were sitting right next to each other. I wanted to keep the look of the “wiggle” in the thread.

I’d strip a little of the flat silk from the very end of the gimp and plunge those wisps of silk to the back of the piece. Then, I’d satin stitch over the exposed ends with Soie Ovale, securing the ends and covering them.

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

Well…it did work. Probably not as perfectly as I wanted it to, but it worked pretty well – and much better than the more unsightly interruption in the line that I’d get from plunging those ends.

Keep in mind, this is a close-up photo, and all those tiny thread marks around the area will be covered by stitching.

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

When we draw back from the frame, the join is not as noticeable. You can see a little thickening in the line, but I think the eye is drawn to the area due more to the speckling of stab stitching there, where I anchored my threads.

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads


I do love silk and goldwork threads together!

On each side of the wiggly gimp, I worked a line of pearl purl, stretched, with Soie de Paris in #277 run through it. This technique is explained here.

I couched the pearl purl with Soie Gobelin in the 277, too.

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

On the inside of the gimp line, I couched No. 3 pearl purl, run through with six strands of Soie de Paris. On the outside of the gimp line, I couched No. 2 pearl purl (slightly smaller), run through with four strands of Soie de Paris.

The different sized pearl purl lines will hopefully contribute slightly to the bevel look that I have in mind for the frame.

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

At this point, I’m using a make-shift plunging lasso to take the bunch of silk threads to the back, where the two ends of pearl purl meet.

When working the pearl purl around the circle and next to the gimp, I purposely started and ended each round in a different location from where the other rounds (the gimp and other pearl purl) began and ended.

This way, if there’s a flaw in the join that causes the meeting point to be less than absolutely perfect, it’s less likely to be noticeable. If all the threads started and ended in the same spot, they eye would automatically be drawn to that spot, because the pattern would wobble or break there, despite how carefully the join is made.

The arrow on the right points to the join where the gimp ends meet. It’s not too bad, is it? I’m kind of pleased with the way that came out – I was nervous about it!

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads

Stepping back away from the frame for a full shot (in crooked lighting), I think the starting and ending points of the three threads (the gimp and the two lines of stretched pearl purl) are fairly unnoticeable, so I’m satisfied and ready to move on to the next section of goldwork.

Want to Learn More about Goldwork?

If you want to learn more about goldwork embroidery, here’s some further reading and resources for you:

This goldwork stylized pomegranate / artichoke project develops step-by-step here on Needle ‘n Thread, and it’s full of tips and techniques along the way!

This Goldwork & Silk Tudor Style Rose is a little goldwork project – just barely over an inch round. You’ll find all the tips, materials, and instructional information in the series.

I worked through this Marian Medallion goldwork and silk project step-by-step on Needle ‘n Thread, too, and all the articles are listed there in chronological order. Lots of trouble-shooting, instruction, tips, and techniques!

If you want to know what’s behind old goldwork, you might enjoy this series of articles on deconstructing goldwork.

Goldwork Instructional Books

Here’s a list of my favorite goldwork books, with links to my reviews of each book so you can see what each one has to offer.

Beginner’s Guide to Goldwork by Ruth Chamberline

A-Z of Goldwork from Search Press

Goldwork Techniques, Projects, and Pure Inspiration by Hazel Everett

RSN Essential Stitch Guide: Goldwork by Helen McCook

You can find all of these books available through my Amazon Recommendations page here.

This article contains an affiliate link to my Amazon Recommendations page, which means that Needle ‘n Thread receives a small kickback from any purchases made through that link, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for helping to keep Needle ‘n Thread going!


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(8) Comments

  1. Looking really good Mary. The join in the gimp is a masterpiece, and hardly noticeable. Can’t wait to see if you use the s’ing!

  2. Hi Mary….do you find Au Vers à Soie threads true to the colors on your monitor from the site you purchase them? As for the felt, you’re using yellow as opposed to butter, right?

    1. Actually, this is the butter. It’s fairly bright, but it has a little more gold to it than the straight yellow. When I realized it was brighter than I thought (based on what I saw on my monitor), that’s when I bought the swatch card.

      It’s hard to judge whether or not the color is true on a monitor or not. On my monitor, the blues look right, but I could not know what it looks like on your monitor. That’s the problem with trying to judge color online!

  3. Oh goodee!!! – I’ve been very much looking forward to watching you work on this project – – I do just love the gold and the sparkle! Mary the photography is very good on these images – we get a great view of what you are doing and I especially liked the explanation on joining up the gimp – – I thought the join was pretty darn good too! I’ve ordered Frostings #3 – such fun!

  4. O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
    By that sweet ornament which THREAD doth give!☺

    (With apologies to the Bard)
    Inspiring, Mary!

  5. I would dearly love to subscribe to your news letters fot Needle’n Thread. I so look forward to receiving them. Kindest Regards Di. Pervan.

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