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S-ing (goldwork)

S-ing (goldwork) main image

​S-ing creates the look of a stem stitch worked in metal purl threads.  Traditionally used to create stems or veins down the centre of leaves, it can also be used as an outline.

S-ing was evidently in use in the 17th century as it features on the reverse of a pocket book from that date, currently held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

S-ing (goldwork) is generously sponsored by Susan Erasmus

Method

Use a waxed double sewing thread.
Cut purls approximately 6mm in length - they should all be the same length.
The beginning and the end of the S-ing may need a half length if a blunt end is required.
S-ing can also be used with spangles.
Using a velvet board when cutting metal purls will help to protect them from being crushed or bouncing away.
Use tweezers and/or a mellor so that you can minimise handling of the metal thread and prevent tarnishing.

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S-ing (goldwork) method stage 1 photograph
1

Cut several small equal lengths of purl. Using a waxed double thread bring the needle and thread to the surface. Thread a purl onto the needle and gently manoeuvre it to the base of the thread. Ideally without touching it with your fingers to prevent tarnishing in the future.

S-ing (goldwork) method stage 2 photograph
2

Secure in position by taking the needle back down through the fabric just short of the purl length so that the purl curves slightly.

S-ing (goldwork) method stage 3 photograph
3

Bring the needle and thread to the surface half a purls length ahead.

S-ing (goldwork) method stage 4 photograph
4

Thread a second purl onto the needle and gently manoeuvre it to the base of the thread.

S-ing (goldwork) method stage 5 photograph
5

Secure the second purl into position by taking the needle down, halfway back under the left side of the previous purl.

S-ing (goldwork) method stage 6 photograph
6

Use a mellor or laying tool to gently lift the middle of the 1st purl to allow the end of the second purl to slide into position.

S-ing (goldwork) method stage 7 photograph
7

Repeat the sequence by bringing the needle and thread to the surface half a purls length ahead of the second stitch
Thread a third purl onto the needle and gently manoeuvre it to the base of the thread.

S-ing (goldwork) method stage 8 photograph
8

Secure the third purl into position by taking the needle down, halfway back under the left side of the previous purl and into the same hole as the end of the previous purl. Remember to use a mellor to gently manoeuvre it into position without cracking the purl.

S-ing (goldwork) method stage 9 photograph
9

Continue the sequence to create a stem stitch of metal threads.

S-ing (goldwork)

Structure of stitch

Common uses

Traditionally used to create stems and or veins down the centre of leaves, can also be used as an outline.

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying S-ing (goldwork)

S-ing can be identified as lengths of metal thread cut and attached to the fabric surface in a way that produces a rope-like appearance.

References

  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.240
  • Kate Haxell, The Stitch Bible (2012)
  • 'Pocket book (17th century)', https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O356976/pocket-case-unknown/. Available at: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O356976/pocket-case-unknown/ (Accessed: 01 November 2023)