Create these luxe Chrsitmas decs in unique motifs for your tree this year. We've also added beads for extra sparkle! Goldwork can be traced back over 1,000 years, and in this country it has its roots in church embroidery. It is usually worked on silk or velvet fabrics, although linen is also a popular choice. The technique shows off precious metal threads by lying them on the surface of the fabric where they can be fully seen, and stitching over them. There are a lot of stitches you can use but, as a basic introduction, this project mainly uses couching. Experts use real gold and silver threads, but if you're new to goldwork, it's probably not a good idea to blow the budget on 18-carat gold thread! Opt instead for a metallic cord held down with matching polyester thread.
- Fabric, velvet: pink; purple; ivory
- Felt, purple, scraps
- Thread: sewing, coordinating; silver; gold
- Metallic cord or corded elastic: turquoise; silver
- Braid: flat, metallic, silver; beaded, gold
- Needle: crewel, small; large; sewing, sharp
- Beads, small, glass, assorted
- Gemstones, flat-backed, assorted
- Fibre filling
- Embroidery hoop
- Fish: 6cm x 10cm
- Butterfly: 7cm x 9cm
- Heart: 8cm square
Make a fish
Go to www.sewmag.co.uk, download the templates and print. Place ivory velvet fabric in an embroidery hoop large enough to accommodate the whole shape of the fish. Pin the template onto the fabric and outline the shape with running stitch, using ordinary sewing thread.
Thread a large crewel needle with turquoise metallic cord or corded elastic and bring it up through the fabric at the top of the fish, just in front of the top fin, then back through the fabric on the line below, to create a dividing line between the head and the body.
Thread a fine needle with coordinating sewing thread and couch the metallic thread to the fabric using small, neat stitches. Outline the body of the fish using the same cord, then use silver cord to outline the fins.
Thread a large crewel needle with silver metallic flat braid and bring it up through the fabric just inside the outline of the body, then lay lengths of it in parallel diagonal lines, filling the body area. Repeat in the opposite direction, crossing the first lines, to make a diamond pattern. Couch using coordinating sewing thread.
Sew four beads at every intersection of the flat braid. Add parallel lines of couched silver thread along the tail. Attach a bead as an eye, and couch a circle of turquoise cord around it.
When you have finished the embroidery, trim around the fish shape 5cm from the embroidered edge, then cut a second fish from velvet the same size and pin right sides together. Sew together, working back stitch all round with coordinating sewing thread, just outside the embroidered outline. Leave a 5cm gap on one side for turning.
Trim away the excess fabric to 5mm all round. Clip into the seam allowance on the curves, and turn out. Stuff, then slip stitch the gap closed. Pin beaded braid all round the edge of the shape, covering the seam, and couch in place. Add a loop of thread for hanging.
Sew a butterfly
Place purple velvet fabric in an embroidery hoop large enough to accommodate the whole shape of the butterfly. Pin the template onto the fabric and outline the shape with running stitch in gold. Sew flat-backed gemstones in a line down the centre to create the body. Place gold beaded braid around the gems and, holding it in place with one hand, couch with coordinating thread.
Using the template, cut two large and two small felt pieces and stitch to the wings. Thread a crewel needle with gold thread and work split stitch round each of the felt shapes. Repeat until you have three parallel lines of the stitch. Sew another three lines across the centre of each shape.
Thread a large crewel needle with turquoise metallic cord and bring it up through the fabric at the point of one of the outlined felt shapes. Curve it around the stitched gold outline. Thread a fine needle with coordinating sewing thread and couch to the fabric.
Continue working all the way around the shapes, then bring the needle to the reverse of the fabric and secure. Make up as for the fish, adding two lengths of gold beaded braid at the top as antennae as you sew the pieces together.
Stitch a heart
Place pink velvet fabric in an embroidery hoop large enough to accommodate the whole shape of the heart. Pin the template onto the fabric and outline the shape with running stitch. Sew a flat-backed gemstone in the centre.
Thread a large crewel needle with turquoise metallic cord and bring it up through the fabric close to the edge of the gem, then lay it on the fabric in a straight line out to the edge of the heart. Thread a fine needle with coordinating sewing thread and couch.
When you reach the outline of the heart, take the large needle through to the back of the fabric and fasten off. Repeat to create lines radiating out from the gem, using both turquoise cord and silver braid. Make up as before.