Spangles held on with purls
Spangles may be stitched down in a variety of decorative ways, either individually or in lines, with fancy stitching with coloured silk threads. Alternatively, they can be held down with chips, looped chips, beads or, invisibly, in fish-scale stitching which results in the overlapping spangles concealing the stitch that holds down the previous spangle.
Spangles have a long history across the world: excavations of 6th century royal tombs in Korea have shown that they were used to embellish royal crowns. European artefacts date back to the 16th century: the Victoria and Albert Museum holds a dalmatic and other ecclesiastical garments embellished with them from this time. They continued to be used in England in subsequent centuries: the V&A also holds a burse made for Elizabeth I’s Great Seal plus various high-status garments. Their use wasn’t restricted to garments for royalty and nobility: they feature on a revolutionary cap from the French revolution now held by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
17th century trade records between the Netherlands and Indonesia indicate that cloth embellished with spangles was unsurprisingly highly esteemed; by the 18th and 19th centuries in Lucknow, northern India, spangles and metal thread were used to completely cover shoes; 19th century rules for Madras Foot Artillery officers’ dress included spangles.
Cut a good number of small chips from a length of metal thread, this example shows Bright check
Using a double waxed thread, bring the needle through to the surface of the fabric from underneath
Thread on a single spangle
and gently manoeuvre it to the base of the thread. Ideally without touching it with your fingers to prevent it tarnishing in the future.
Thread a purl chip onto the needle
and gently manoeuvre it to the base of the thread on top of the spangle.
Stitch the purl chip in place by taking the needle back down through the spangle centre
leaving the purl chip on top to hold the spangle in place.
Structure of stitch
Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.242
Susan Bush. (1984) 'Some Parallels between Chinese and Korean Ornamental Motifs of the Late Fifth and Early Sixth Centuries A.D.', Archives of Asian Art pp.60-78. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20111144
'Dalmatic 1480-1510', Victoria and Albert Museum (2021). Available at: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O354205/dalmatic/ (Accessed: 23 September 2021)
'Great seal of England burse', Victoria and Albert Museum (2021). Available at: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O10808/burse-unknown/ (Accessed: 23 September 2021)
'Revolutionary cap', Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Available at: https://collections.mfa.org/objects/120997/revolutionary-cap-bonnet-de-police?ctx=4cd0245f-c981-4af5-aa49-a9cef9e58a7d&idx=0 (Accessed: 23 September 2021)
Barbara Watson Andaya. (1989) 'The Cloth Trade in Jambi and Palembang Society during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries', Indonesia pp.27-46. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3351265
Madhu Sharma. (1970) 'COSTUME AND COSTUME-CRAFT IN NAWABI AWADH', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress pp.177-181. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44138523
P. E. Abbott. (1975) 'THE DRESS REGULATIONS OF THE MADRAS ARTILLERY, 1842', Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research pp.27-47. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44235060