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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Silk & Goldwork Kits by Liz Tapper


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A week doesn’t go by in my life that I don’t receive inquiries about where to find good embroidery kits these days.

There are many, many embroidery kits available today – from large companies producing kits for retail sale in craft stores all the way to designers who manage their own small needlework businesses, producing their own kits for their own designs.

I prefer needlework kits in the latter category, for at least these three reasons:

1. Kits coming directly from a designer usually (practically always) include higher quality materials.

2. The designer knows all the nuances of the piece, so if you run into trouble while stitching the design, you can usually contact the designer you purchased from for help.

3. When you purchase from an individual designer, you are a. supporting needle art at its very roots; b. you are helping an individual make a living; and c. you are contributing to the longevity of that person’s ability to keep designing. Without clientele, individual designers could not keep producing their goods, and the needle arts world (which is enjoying a good boom these days) would suffer indeed.

Embroidery Kits by Liz Tapper - The Art of the Needle

Today, for those of you who are looking for accessible goldwork and silk embroidery kits – and especially if you like Art Nouveau designs – I want to show you a kit from Liz Tapper, a needlework designer in the UK at The Art of the Needle.

If you are eager to try out goldwork and silk embroidery – even if you are brand new to the techniques – Liz’s kits are perfect taster kits for the techniques.

Embroidery Kits by Liz Tapper - The Art of the Needle

The kits come with everything you need to complete the embroidery project, except hoop (or frame) & scissors.

You’ll find silk thread (she uses Piper’s silk, which is a more-or-less flat silk), silk satin for the ground fabric, a heavy cotton for the backing of the ground fabric, and two sizes of pearl purl, which is a real metal thread. There’s also a spool of couching thread for the goldwork threads, and a scrumptious small heart-shaped cake of beeswax for coating the couching thread.

Embroidery Kits by Liz Tapper - The Art of the Needle

Because the Piper’s silks are flat silks, I wouldn’t necessarily slot this kit as a kit for beginner’s to embroidery. Flat silk (which you can read about here) can be a bit tricky or frustrating to use, if you’re not used to it.

If you’re already into embroidery – you know the basics, you’re familiar with working with different types of thread – and you’re ready to expand your repertoire, then the kits are fine for beginners (and beyond) to silk and goldwork.

Embroidery Kits by Liz Tapper - The Art of the Needle

If you’re intimidated by the idea of the goldwork, the pearl purl is a great thread to get started with. It’s not complicated to use at all – it’s just a matter of couching it. There are some tricks to stretching it, cutting pieces, and butting them up to each other, though, and these are covered in the instructions.

Embroidery Kits by Liz Tapper - The Art of the Needle

And, speaking of instructions, each kit comes with a printout of the instructions, which take you carefully step by step through the whole project from start to finish. They include photos and written instructions.

These are printed, it looks like, on an inkjet printer. I would rather see them printed either on heavier paper or on only one side of the paper, because when printed on two sides, the printing on one side can take away some of the clarity of the printing on the other side.

All in all, these are great little kits for getting into silk and goldwork. If you are keen on the Art Nouveau period, you might check out Liz’s other designs in this series.

Liz also has many other kits in her online shop, including all goldwork kits, whitework, a Bayeux-inspired horse kit, several crewel kits (including a lampshade), and more.

You can check them all out here. Remember, if you’re in the US, that there’s a currency conversion to contend with (just Google currency conversion calculator to compare the current currency conversion rates) and overseas shipping.

So that’s another individual kit designer that you can add to your list, if you’re looking for embroidery kits! I hope you enjoy exploring The Art of the Needle!


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(6) Comments

  1. I love her kits, but I did not love the silk thread. I had to use four strands at a time and I found it very fiddly. It also snagged constantly on my rough hands. I do not have these problems with soie d’alger.

    1. Yes, true. Piper’s is not a favorite of mine, but I do like it for very fine details with flat silk. I’ve found that if you unreel the outer layer, the inner layers on the spool are usually a little better to work with. Due to storage (and I think the way they process the silk – I’ve been told this happens because it is not as well rinsed as it could be), the outer layer on the spool fuzzes up and gets a little more snaggy.

  2. Boy those lampshades sure tempt me! I love the one she did with pulled threads.

    I pulled out some wool to try that lazy dazy! whoo hoo!

  3. Hi Mary, so pleased that you are recommending Liz’s kits. I know Liz and attend her workshops in Exeter UK. She is a wonderful tutor, trained at the RSN and together with Helen Jones, also RSN, are bringing these wonderful embroidery classes to this remote, rural SW corner of the UK …France is nearer than London ! Thank you your praise is well deserved. Beth x

  4. I could not agree with you more about small, independant designer’s kits verse mass produced kits. And we are very fortunate to have access to so many wonderful, tallented designers, at the moment.

    I find these kits such a good way to learn new techniques, with all the supplies provided so that I do not have to source them myself. Also, as I am not a designer, I love being able to reproduce things I have admired.

    A big cheer from me to all the designers who put the effort into producing these kits so that those who, like me, simple want to stitch beautiful things, can do so.

  5. Dear Mary

    I agree with you that designer kits are better then mass produced kits sold by large companies. A lovely choice for a Goldwork kit and the colour of Piper’s silk threads are lovely. The instructions look very good and it’s good to know that they are step by step guided. Thank you for reviewing embroidery kits for us and for your views and for sharing them with us and for the photos of the goldwork kit.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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