SAL Update: A Start on Seashells

December 18, 2016 at 10:42 am | Posted in Embroidery | 14 Comments
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After finally having finished my paisley pillow cover last time, I managed to get a start on the goldwork project “Seashells”. First, the preparation work: framing the project up. The RSN Goldwork book recommends using a slate frame, but also gives the option to use a ring frame. Goldwork embroidery needs to be stretched very tightly, which is very hard to achieve in a ring frame, and I don’t have a ring frame where I can work hands-free. Therefore I took the more cumbersome option, mounting it on my Millenium frame. This makes it possible to comfortably work with both hands free, but makes it decidedly non-portable.

I also had to replace the backing fabric provided with the project, since the backing was much smaller than the silk with the design. The normal order of work is to attach the silk to the backing, not the other way round! So I grabbed a bigger piece of cotton from my fabric stash and attached the silk to that. That made it possible to frame the whole thing correctly:


Then it was time to start the embroidery. First part for all kinds of goldwork is to work all the non-goldwork pieces of the project, in this case the silk embroidery. The thread provided turned out to be something that may or may not contain real silk, but definitely contains viscose. It’s very slippery, but shiny. I like the effect, although working it is far from easy. (I have no illusions that working with silk would be any easier, although the source of the difficulties might be different.) Here’s how far I’ve come:


Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose, Christina, SusanP, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy and Helen. Welcome to Steph, who’s joining us for the first time!

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.



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  1. wow! I’ve tried sewing with silk thread before but it kept catching on my fingers/nails. I must have rough hands, and in the winter time they’re even worse.

    • This isn’t silk thread, and probably handles differently, I don’t have the catching problem, although my fingers look bad at this time of year. It’s just so slippery it wants to flee from the needle, and sometimes I get unintended loops at the back because it knots up on itself.

  2. Oh dear…..what a great project! This will be very interesting to follow.

  3. Gold work, it reminds me of some of my Mums commissions she worked on

    • Oh, that sounds interesting! Any stories to share? I need to dig out and share the workbooks of my grandmother and grandfather that they made during their apprenticeships – she as a seamstress, he as a weaver.

  4. The prep work for this is very interesting. Thanks for sharing it! I have never done any silk work…hmm…more items for my stitching bucket list.

  5. Wow! Looks like this is going to be a stunning project to watch!

  6. I’ve never done any Goldwork so I’m fascinated to see how it’s done. The pattern looks really pretty too.
    I’ve used silk thread and loved using it. I did need constant applications of hand cream in-between stitching though as my hands do tend be a bit rough.

  7. I have never done gold work but I love watching others do it. As I am not a fan of surface embroidery I doubt I will every try it. It is beautiful and lovely to look at.

  8. Your thread may be a nightmare to sew with but the result is stunning!

  9. I’m looking forward to watching this project grow! I’ve not done any good work before, but will need to be comfortable to do it soon enough as it is part of the RSN Certificate!

  10. This is going to be a marvellous piece of work, and I’m very glad you’re also sharing the preparation work.

  11. Stunning, your satin & chain stitching is smooth & even. Brilliant, this is a project I’m sure many will watch closely as it look so beautiful

  12. Fascinating! I love the composition of the shells, and they will look stunning with their gold and silk embroidery.

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