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Hard string padding (goldwork) icon
Hard string padding (goldwork)

​Hard string is used as the base over which to stitch couched metal threads to form patterns. These patterns can take the form of chevrons, diamonds, stripes and so on, or can be more complex, in which case they are known as basketweave. When using gold, it is advised to soften the harsh white appearance of the string by dyeing it, generally using tea. Once it is dry, run it gently through some beeswax to help make it a little more malleable, If you are using silver, the string can be left undyed.

Hard string padding (goldwork) is generously sponsored by JoAnne Troy


Hard string padding (goldwork) method stage 1 photograph

To start this technique, begin your thread using the waste-knot or holding stitch technique in an area that will be covered.

Hard string padding (goldwork) method stage 2 photograph

When executing the couching, place your stitches at a distance of approximately 3mm apart.

Hard string padding (goldwork) method stage 3 photograph

Ensure that you finish the ends of the string by putting a stitch from the fabric at the very end of the string and going for into the string itself.

Hard string padding (goldwork) method stage 4 photograph

Couching lengths of hard string down securely and carefully. Make sure that the distances between the pieces of string are even. Generally this should be between 1.5 to 2 times the width of the string, depending on the desired effect and design.

Structure of stitch

Common uses

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying Hard string padding (goldwork)

​Generally not seen as a stitch in itself, it is used under metal thread as a padding and can be identified as a set of strings held together and onto fabric by a row of threads looped around the string and through the fabric.


  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.225

Examples of Hard string padding (goldwork) from the RSN Collection