Jenny’s Milleflori button brooch
I really enjoyed the class with Jenny from the short class at Au ver a Soie, and was hoping to be able to finish the piece before starting my RSN Certificate gold work piece. I was originally not overly confident at being able to do this as I thought I’d be short on time. But things didn’t quite work out with the weather, so I’ve actually now finished it! I’m really glad I was able to as well. Whilst it’s not completed to the ‘RSN standard’, I did learn a few things about working with these threads.
Continuing on from the class
In our short class, we worked most of the main techniques, and, this is where I was up to when we left class.
In class we had almost finished the couching around the brooch in passing thread and metallic twist thread. Jenny recommended three rows to be completed, so I was pretty much done this part! To finish this, the threads needed to be taken to the back.
To do this, a small hole is made using a awl. Jenny then taught us a way I had never know before. Using strong buttonhole thread, a lasso is then made and threaded into a needle. Using the lasso, the tip of the thread is grabbed, and pulled through. This is a lot easier than the way I’ve used before of threading the threads through the needle. A great tip!
The next step was to put in an extra couple of rows using a row of pearl purl and a more decorative row with purl and beads. The pearl purl was quite easy, but I did find getting the purl cut to the right size a little difficult. I also started to make a few problems with the original rose, as I managed to damage the rose cutwork in a few different locations!
Reworking the centre rose
As I’d managed to damage the cutwork, and I wasn’t overly happy with the centre of the rose anyway, I decided to re-work the rose.
I’m still not completely happy, as I’ve managed this time to not get it centred! But, I had started the chip work by the time I really picked up on this, so the decision was to leave it as it was. So the cutwork is still damaged, and there are a few pieces which were replaced several times. But, it is a really nice way to make a lovely little rose. It looks a little like a bullion knot rose, but is a bit quicker to stitch up!
I also think I didn’t quite get the ‘leaves’ in the right spot, as it is a little off centre, and there is possibly too much space at the top. Originally I wasn’t happy with the leaves as they were too long. Now they are probably the right size. But because the rose itself isn’t centred, the whole thing is a little lop-sided. So, perhaps I should have changed the location of the rose!
Adding the chipwork
To finish off the main part of the brooch, the rest of the space is filled with chip work. Cutting lots and lots of little ‘beads’, they are stitched on. Again, damage to the cutwork was done by bringing the needle up at the wrong spot. I’ve been told for my RSN piece the cutwork will be the last part worked, and I can see why! This order of work wouldn’t really work here, so extra care does need to be taken if working the cutwork before working other areas.
Finishing off the brooch
To finish off the brooch, a further row of pearl purl was couched around the outer edge – it finishes it so nicely!
Then, a running stitch was placed a short distance from the edge, and the piece was cut out and gathered.
The little ruffle around the edge is a fancy ribbon Jenny has. It is a very sturdy, malleable, ribbon. So you are able to manipulate it and have it stay the way you have worked it. I unfortunately can’t remember what she said it was called!
The brooch fitting is then stitched onto a piece of fabric, and using some PVC glue, it is placed together.
A look at Jenny’s kit
Just quickly, I thought I would show you the kit, as it is a lovely kit.
The kit comes in a nice little calico bag, with a photo of the finished project on the front.
The instructions are not only incredibly detailed and thorough, but they are also bound so you have a little book of instructions. I really liked this way of presenting them as it does keep the notes nice and neat!
And the contents of the kit are all well presented, and clearly labelled, so there is no guessing what to use where (particularly good for someone like me who is new to the technique).
The other thing I really liked, was there was no worry about running out of any of the materials or threads. Even on the rose which I stitched a few times, I still have excess purl left, so I could have replaced those cutwork pieces again. There is nothing worse than worrying about running out of something, and there is no worry about that here!
Some of Jenny’s tips for working metallic work
I thought you might also be interested in some of the tips from Jenny that I found particularly useful when working with metallic threads:
- The direction of your needle is all important in getting the metal threads to sit nicely next to each other. Generally, this will mean coming up, and going down, with your needle at a 45 degree angle
- When couching down Japanese thread or passing thread, move the thread to be couched out of the way slightly to enable your needle to get nice and close to the existing row of stitching (and angled!)
- To help you come up at the ‘right spot’ in your project, and to reduce the damage to your existing thread (very important as you have read above!), bounce your needle from the outside, non-padded area of the piece towards the area to fill. This helps you to gain control of your needle placement
- Specific gold work scissors aren’t actually the best scissors to use if they have a rigged edge on the blade. Instead, dedicate a small, sharp, curved edge pair of scissors to your metallic threads. This will give you the control you need to be able to cut small and precise pieces.
So now, it will be waiting to see what other tips I get when I work my RSN gold work piece!