Friday, January 9, 2015

Stitching before stitching

Guess what I have been doing...

... I have been stitching on a sampler. Not a 'pretty to be framed' kind of sampler but an 'experimenting with techniques, threads and combinations, doodle cloth, before getting stuck into the real thing' kind of sampler.
Ever since my trip to Copenhagen, I have been really keen to do more metal thread embroidery again. Design ideas have been taking shape in my mind and I have finally sat down to sketch up a few ideas.

I have a couple of drawings, but this is the one that I have started working on - or rather stitching samples for.
I know what I want to achieve and I have a few ideas for how to get there. It will be small selection of filling techniques, not necessarily a different one in each shape, in fact I want to repeat the same three or four techniques. The fascinating thing when working with metal is the impact of light and reflection. The appearance of the shapes and stitched pattens within them will differ as the angle of the threads will reflect the light differently depending on the direction of the stitching.
Or so is the plan...

Goldwork is one thing I will do samples for before starting the actual embroidery. I obviously don't embroider the entire piece, just enough of each part to test stitches, techniques and combinations. As soon as I know I am on the right (or wrong) track I move on. Experimenting with ideas on the final piece is not really an option. Unpicking mistakes, yes, but making big decisions and changes... 

... like realising, that no matter how much I want to be able to make beautifully, neat, sharp turns at really sharp points to avoid having to neaten all those pesky ends is not an option! Isn't it funny how, even when we know a short-cut won't work, we still have to try just to be sure? Well, I do anyway and as you can see, it doesn't work.

When the ends are taken to the back individually the result is so much neater. It looks almost like a little braid. This is quicker to stitch but results in the vast amount of tails on the back I showed earlier and they will all need to be sewn down and secured one by one. Just as well this is just a sampler where I don't need to bother with the back - oh how I love magic tape. If only I could use it to hold the ends on the actual piece.

This little shape has even more ends (sigh). The metal treads a couched in parallel lines along the shape and the tails taken to the back at each end. The smoothness and evenness of this filling will sit really well amongst the previous two, somewhere for the eye to rest. I do think it will need just a single layer of felt padding though.
I still have couple of options to try out before starting on the actual piece, and it might seem like a lot of stitching before I begin stitching, but I am confident the effort will pay off.

Besides I was really not sure about the colour of the silk for this project. In fact, I have decided that this won't be it. I want something more cheerful. Despite the sparkle, goldwork can easily appear heavy and I want this design to feel light, and pretty, and elegant, so the choices of colour and stitch are going to be rather important if I want to get it right.

Who knows what colour it will be when you see it next.

Have a wonderful weekend,
Anna x


  1. Anna, how dedicated you are to try out your designs before tackling the actual work. I love these "wings", your couching stitches are immaculate. I read this post with great interest. Thank you.

    1. Hi Jocelyn - trust me it doesn't happen very often :-) But goldwork requires such accuracy and experience tells me it pays off in the long run. Thanks so much for your interest.

  2. Very interesting. I also do a lot of practice when I am coming up with something new. I much prefer to figure out what does/doesn't work on a piece of "scrap" material.

    1. Hi Irene, I must admit that with most things I tend to just dive in and see what happens.

  3. Anna, this is truly awesome. The metal thread embroidery has always been my favorite. I loved your working technique. Thank you for posting this in your blog.

    1. Hi Ellie, Thank you for your interest in my work. There is something really special about the methodical way this kind of embroidery has to be done isn't there. you simply have to respect it.

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