Friday, October 6, 2017

Goldwork Fox

A couple years ago I started reading Mary Corbet's Needle N Thread, which is the best embroidery blog I've ever found.  She works on great projects so there's lots of eye candy, has lots of great educational content about working on projects, the mechanics of stitching, how to approach planning and design, and everything else you might need for embroidery.  She also has some historical content as well, and its fun to learn a little about past embroidery.

In any case, while reading her blog I learned a little about goldwork, which I had previously seen but never knew anything about.  It's an embroidery technique where you use thread or floss to attach actual metallic bits to the surface of the embroidery.  As it turns out there are a lot of different goldwork techniques, but in general think of the sparkly bits on military uniforms or ecclesiastical vestments.   I thought it might be fun to try, but I wasn't super excited about buying a whole bunch of new stuff until I knew whether I'd like it or not, so when she did a giveaway for one of Becky Hogg's fabulous goldwork embroidery kits, I entered enthusiastically.  I didn't win the giveaway, but I asked for the goldwork fox kit as a Christmas present that year, and Mike got it for me.  

I don't ever make things from kits- mostly I have such strange ideas I'm pursuing that it wouldn't make sense, but you guys this kit was amazing.  It was beautifully put together, there was plenty of all the materials, the instructions were very clear and thorough, and it was a great way to try a bunch of different new techniques.  If you're at all interested in trying out goldwork, I'd strongly recommend one of Becky's kits.  

Anyway, I didn't have much time to work on the fox until the last six months or so, but recently I've been taking it to knit night and working on it there.  And then last weekend I got to work on it during a softball game for Mike's granddaughter and an OU football game, so it got finished!  It came with a cute hoop to finish it in (to hang on the wall), but I decided to turn it into a brooch instead.

The first step was to stitch down felt support padding, and then the first actual goldwork technique was couching down thin gold wire.  You can see all the loose ends in the second picture that had to be buried.  That was very tedious, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The next several techniques were less tedious, but I forgot to take step by step pictures.  All the rest of the techniques utilized different colors and sizes and textures of fine metallic springs.  These were either put on by couching over them and pulling the thread down between the coils of the spring so you can't see the thread (as in the outline of the face and tail), or by cutting pieces off the spring and sewing the thread through the center of it like a bead (as on the tail and ear fill).  These steps were easier than couching the wire, but it was difficult to get the rose gold springs cut the right length for filling the tail.  They were more uneven than I'd have liked, but I got better as I went along!  

To finish him after all the embroidery was done, I hand stitched the edge of the white fabric around then backed it with felt and sewed on a brooch pin. He's so very sparkly and shiny and reflective, it's so hard to get a good picture, but I really love the way he came out!!

I had such fun working on this, it was really very very slow work, but I love the effect, and may use some of these goldwork techniques in a future embroidery project.

Have you learned any new techniques lately?

Linking up with Nina-Marie!


  1. I've never heard of gold work, the fox looks amazing. Looks very fiddly, so it's probably not a new technique for me, but you did a fabulous job.

  2. I've done exactly one piece of goldwork. Like you, it was a kit. I loved the results but also knew this form of embroidery wasn't for me. Since then, I've always loved seeing examples in historic museums. The V&A has an awesome collection. I also know how much precise work it takes to make a piece as beautiful as your fox. Lovely! Keep it up!

  3. Amazing! I've seen some antique crazy quilts that might have had this, although never knew what it was called. I applaud you for trying it and seeing it through

  4. That is beautiful! Thanks for the walk-through. Mary Corbett's blog is amazing.

  5. Oh how lovely! Thank you for sharing it with us! It's gorgeous!

  6. I love how it turned out! Oof - that was a lot of threads to bury!