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Elizabethan twist application

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The Elizabethan twist is a very fine 2-ply twist. It can be stitched down in pairs using the couching technique or it may be stitched down in individual strands that require an invisible stitch.  Elizabethan twist is more often used in conjunction with a coloured thread to fill small areas with gold and a decorative pattern at the same time. In the example below, a small leaf with veins is filled.​

Elizabethan twist application is generously sponsored by David Erasmus


Elizabethan twist is usually stitched down in pairs with a single coloured thread. Use a contrasting colour for the stitching thread to get the detailing on the design more visible. The method below needs to be worked before you apply an edging.


Lay two strands of Elizabethan twist at the top of the leaf, leaving a tail. Secure the coloured thread on the design line, and couch the first stitch over the Elizabethan twist at one edge of the leaf.


Bend the Elizabethan twist, and put the second stitch at the other edge of the leaf. Continue to work across the leaf, couching over each side.


Continue stitching, working back and forth across the shape. When you reach the design line for the veins, couch over the Elizabethan twist to form a decorative pattern.


The rows of Elizabethan twist should be parallel. When couching, make sure to take the needle down to the same hole of the previous stitch to form a continuous line.


Continue to stitch both the edges and the design lines, following the pattern. When you finish filling the area, plunge the start and end of the Elizabethan twist and secure on the reverse.

Elizabethan twist application

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

Related Stitches

Identifying Elizabethan twist application

​Elizabethan twist can be identified by the presence of a 2-ply twisted metal thread stitched down in pairs using a coloured thread.


  • Emi Nimura, RSN Goldwork (2021) , p.67
  • Hazel Everett, Goldwork (2011) , p.82
  • Lizzy Pye, Goldwork Embroidery (2020) , p.62

Examples of Elizabethan twist application

Majorie Wilson Diploma piece, RSN Collection No. 2085