Finishing Jenny Adin-Christie’s Milleflori button brooch

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You may remember from my recent trip to Paris I took a short class with Jenny Adin-Christie. With a combination of bad weather and no homework, I’ve had the chance to finish off her millefiori button brooch.

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.

And, finished!

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!

38 Comments

    • Catherine

      Thank you! I’m glad I’ve done it ☺️

      Reply
  1. Kathy Reeves

    That is still a lovely piece that will look lovely on a coat or scarf! What a great project to help you get acquainted with the techniques before your RSN project.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Kathy. I find working with the metal threads very different so it’s good to get a feel for them before embarking on the other piece!

      Reply
  2. sue dulle

    This is my goal for this year, to learn Goldwork. You are so lucky to have the RSN and other teachers so close. We, across the pond do not have the selection of teachers and opportunities in goldwork available to us.
    I will watch you closely on your journey and much good fortune to you.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      I do need to make the most of it before the move back to Australia in May! I’m interested to learn the technique- originally everyone I spoke to at the RSN loved it. But now, more people are saying it’s not for them. It could in part be because you are effectively creating a sampler. But, I will see! You should try one of Jenny’s kits, they are brilliant. My friend Natalie, from Sew by Hand, is in Montreal. I’m not sure where about you are, but if you think that would work I can pass on her Facebook page details for you to contact her through if you think that might be of use.

      Reply
  3. Dima

    It looks lovely. My first attempt at cutwork didn’t look that nice either. Practice in this case really helps.
    I’m interested in your comment about the scissors. I’ve found myself sometimes using my embroidery scissors to make precise cuts or trimming, and I’m really worried I’ll ruin them. I’ll have to invest in another pair of pointed scissors for goldwork.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Dima. I think everything about goldwork is practice makes perfect!
      I was quite surprised about the scissors, but it did make a difference. I’m just not sure how long they will stay sharp! I may need to invest in a scissor sharpener…

      Reply
  4. Jessica Grimm

    Well done Catherine! I love my version too, which I made years ago. I love Jenny’s kits and her instructions are simply the gold standard of instruction writing (and illustrating!). I think it is a mesh ribbon and you can get it at The ribbon shop (v.v. Roulleaux?) in London.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Jessica, I really enjoyed this kit, and Jenny was brilliant in person and in print! Definitely a gold standard to look up to.
      Thanks for that information about the ribbon, that does ring a bell.

      Reply
  5. Alex Hall

    A lovely little project and a great finish. Really useful to go through the kit with you as well.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Alex. I’m glad I did manage to finish it before starting my RSN piece!

      Reply
  6. Marlous

    Thank you Catherine for a reminder of Jenny’s comments as I never have time during a workshop to write them down!

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Your welcome 😊 I’m sure they’d come back to you as you work through it

      Reply
  7. Rachel

    That turned out very nicely, didn’t it! The purl does have its own odd little ways, doesn’t it…

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Rachel. It’s very sweet isn’t it? The purl certainly has a mind of its own…

      Reply
  8. Avis

    It’s beautiful! Just like everything else you do. I actually like the rose being slightly off centre as it’s more natural that way. It sounds like you’ve learned a lot on this piece. Well done on getting it fininshed.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Avis. I really enjoyed this piece, and it was a great learning experience.

      Reply
  9. Deborah

    Definitely keep a pair of scissors specifically for goldwork as they blunt quickly. This is a lovely kit to follow – especially when starting out on the goldwork. A great job Catherine, I am sure it will bring lots of compliments when worn.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Deborah, not up to your standard but I’m reasonably happy with the results!

      Reply
    • Catherine

      Thank you! Always nice when it works out reasonably well ☺️

      Reply
  10. Tracey

    Wow, I think it is exquisite 🌹

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Tracey!

      Reply
  11. crawcraftsbeasties

    What a beautiful piece, Catherine! I was actually really impressed with the kit too… It looks so organised and well thought out. What a great way to get your teeth into metallic work before you tackle your next RSN module! I’m sure you’ll enjoy wearing your awesome creation 😀

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Oh thank you! It was a fun little kit, and I’m glad I managed to complete it before starting the next one. I’d recommend her kit if you were ever interested in testing the technique out.

      Reply
      • crawcraftsbeasties

        Someday, hopefully… So many crafts, so little time! 😆

      • Catherine

        Tell me about it…

  12. Lalka Crochetka

    it is beautiful! I can only imagine how much work is needed to make such a Thing!

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thank you! It actually worked up quite quickly 😊

      Reply
  13. Lalka Crochetka

    it looks so delicate and like lots of time needed to make it 🙂 I like the vintage look of this brooch 🙂

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thank you! It does have a lovely look to it, very chic I think!

      Reply
  14. Pamela

    This is gorgeous! Well done!

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks so much Pamela!

      Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Kaye!

      Reply
  15. Super Mom - No Cape!

    Unless someone was a specialist in this kind of embroidery work, they aren’t going to know that certain parts of the process didn’t go as planned. They’re only going to see how lovely your brooch turned out.

    I’m late getting around to visiting everyone but I wanted to pop by to thank you for linking up to March’s Stitchery Link Party.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks for the encouragement! I’m quite pleased with it ☺️ thanks for hosting!

      Reply

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