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Soft string padding icon
Soft string padding

​This type of padding is created to raise up and support cut goldwork and sometimes plate embroidery. Soft string, sometimes known as cotton bump (or bumph), is run through some beeswax and then cut to lengths that are longer than the designated shape to be filled by about 4cm at each end.

Soft String Padding is generously sponsored by Susan Ward.


Soft string padding method stage 1 photograph

Draw soft string through beeswax, cut lengths about 8 cm longer than the shape to be filled, ie. 4cm longer at each end.

Soft string padding method stage 2 photograph

Twist the soft string lengths together and hold them in position over the shape to be worked, to give you an idea of the padding width and height once stitched into place.

Soft string padding method stage 3 photograph

Add more soft string lengths until you are happy with the appearance.

Soft string padding method stage 4 photograph

Starting at the widest section of the area to be filled, secure the soft string into position by overcasting with a double waxed thread.

Soft string padding method stage 5 photograph

To taper the shape, lift the bulk of the soft string away from the fabric surface.

Soft string padding method stage 6 photograph

Remove a few soft strings lengths from the central underside by cutting them away using a pair of embroidery scissors placing the blades at 45 degrees to the lengths.

Soft string padding method stage 7 photograph

Smooth the remaining threads back into position and continue stitching, systematically cutting away strands of soft string every couple of stitches to achieve the shape required.

Soft string padding method stage 8 photograph

Continue to work your way towards the end of the shape, again angling the scissors to achieve a sharp point

Soft string padding method stage 9 photograph

Make a stitch from the point into the body of the tapered soft string to create a ‘Bridge’.

Soft string padding method stage 10 photograph

Return your journey from the tapered point back to the centre or widest part by continuing to overcast the shape, trapping in any loose ends or fibres to create a smoother finish. The Bridge stitch will help to prevent the soft string from flattening.

Structure of stitch

Common uses

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying Soft string padding

​Soft string padding can be identified by the use of soft string under metal thread that has been stitched down to the base fabric to create a shape of your design. It is most likely to be invisible as the metal thread will have been attached over the soft string padding to completely cover it.


  • Helen McCook, RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Goldwork (2012) , p.39
  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.224