Depending on the day, there are a large number of projects in the works in our Ecclesiastical Sewing Studios. Most of our embroidery on vestments, altar hangings and stoles is done by machine. On occasion, we have small commissions for hand embroidery. There are many different types of hand embroidery used in the church. Whitework is usually done on small altar linens and fairlinens. Silk shading is worked on vestments from stoles to altar frontals, and goldwork embroidery is worked either alone, or with silk embroidery.
Here is something to enjoy for those of us who love hand embroidery and goldwork, and even for those who don’t. These are Imitation Japanese Gold threads available in sizes No. 13, No. 12, No. 9, and No. 8 which are also known as K1, K2, K3, and K4.
The gold threads are used in pairs. Two threads are laid side by side and another thread is used to couch over them to hold the gold threads in place. The gold threads are often worked on a padded surface such as a felt padding. They may also be used as a finishing edge around an embroidered applique.
The Imitation Gold threads are available on our website in 4 sizes. The largest size is No. 13 or K1. It is approximately 1 mm width across the thread.
The next size is No. 12 or K2. This size is approximately 0.85 mm width across the thread.
The smallest thread is No.8 or K4. It is approximately 0.5 mm width across the thread. For anyone that does goldwork embroidery, these threads are lovely to work with. They are not real gold. If they were, the price would be beyond the reach of most of us. Yet they are still lovely when finished. The Thread is made up of a narrow and thin foil that is wrapped or twisted around a thread core. The gold foil has a lovely burnished color that looks fiery – gold in a finished project. It simply shimmers in the light!
These threads to take a bit of work on the part of the embroiderers to learn and understand their characteristics and nature. Please – take the time to learn these traits up front with a bit of practice before diving straight into a project. There are several great books on goldwork embroidery with tips, tricks, and instructions on how to successfully use these threads and I highly recommend the books written by the Royal School of Needlework on the topic. Don’t be afraid to give these a try – once you get started, there is no turning back!
The use of gold threads for embroidering church vestments has a long history. How long you ask? Let’s test your knowledge on goldwork embroidery history:
Does it date to the times of Opus Anglicanum, the 19th Century, or to the days of Moses and Aaron with the Tabernacle?
Soli Deo Gloria