Saturday, 19 March 2011

Goldwork edging

Now all the appliqué’s done, it's time to start edging all the embroidered pieces with gold thread.  I like this stage - it makes a huge difference to the look of it.

As I was already at the right-hand end of the panel, it seemed reasonable to start the edging there, and work my way back along, which more or less means doing the flowers in reverse order to how I stitched them on.

To do the edging, I'm couching a single no. 8 imitation Japanese gold thread around the edge, using one strand of the same stranded embroidery cotton that I used for the buttonhole stitch around the edge of each piece as the couching thread.  The stitches are quite closely spaced, about a millimetre or so apart, which gives an effect which tones with the colour of the applied item but still allows the gold to sparkle through.

So, starting with the last three ferns to be applied, here's one of them edged, using Madeira stranded cotton 1411 as the couching thread:

And another one:

Just as a comparison, here they both are with an unedged flower in between:

It makes quite a difference, doesn't it!  The only thing I've done is couch the gold thread around the edge - I haven't trimmed the linen margin at all, for instance, though I admit that any odd linen fibres that were still visible after I’d finished the goldwork I poked under it with the eye end of a needle, to make sure everything was as neat as possible.

Adding the edging really does transform the appliqué, and really is worth doing - I always edge appliqué, whether with a couched thread or cord as here, or with a row of stitches (usually chain stitch) around the outside in a matching or toning thread.  The way it neatens things up is amazing.

So, here are all three ferns, neatly edged, and making the rest of the flowers look rather messy:

Never mind, they'll all get their turn!


  1. Why just one strand of Jap, not two? Because the motifs are so small?

  2. Hmmm...well, you are outlining, not couching.
    And I might wake up at some point this morning....

  3. Well the threads are couched, but you're right, they're just for outlining and neatening things up, not really forming part of the design as such.