Stuart Silk Purl Flower – Month 1

Stuart Silk Purl Flower Kit
Stuart Silk Purl Flower Kit

There’s a new course from Thistle Threads, concentrating on the use of silk-wrapped purl threads. It looked like fun, and it includes the bonus of some extra samples of different sizes and colours.

I’m always trying to learn more about the more obscure and interesting corners of embroidery, and the reconstructions of no-longer-current threads and materials play directly into my fascination with early technologies.

Stuart Flower outlined in Gold
Stuart Flower outlined in Gold

The first stage in this case is to work outlines in gold, and on this occasion I deviated slightly from the instructions.

Normal practice these days is to plunge the ends of the gold thread and sew them down at the back, but it used to be more common simply to cut the thread and oversew it firmly on the front. So I’ve done that. It saves a bit of the expensive gold thread, and as this is a small decorative panel and not for a garment or other item which will move a lot, I think it will be successful.

It’s still important to run the thread in the right way over the design to minimise the number of cuts, of course!

Silk Purl Couched in a spiral
Silk Purl Couched in a spiral

The final part of the first month’s instructions is the first element of the silk purl, couched in a spiral to fill a pair of leaf shapes.

You can see that I have rather crushed the silk purl into place, which is a pity as it has introduced breaks or cracks into the purl, but then, this is an extreme close up. Without a magnifier, it is simply an impression of colour and texture.

The spiral is worked inwards from the gold outline, which is probably the only way it could be done – imagine the difficulties of finding the right central point to start from!


  1. Elaine says:

    This looks a fascinating new project, I really like the idea os playing with different purls and goldwork threads.

  2. Lady Fi says:

    Very nice.

  3. Sue Jones says:

    Such a beautifully presented kit – no wonder you were tempted. (Silk pearl doesn’t float my boat as a thread, so I am happy to admire from the sidelines.) You have made a particularly neat job of the gold outlines, and that must benefit the finished piece. The filled leaf looks fine to me. I am sure the original workers had to crush the stuff a little to get it to fit, too.

  4. Jen Mullen says:

    Pretty! The gold outlines are eye-catching.

  5. Our plunging days are over! Far too modern a technique anyways, LOL. Looking forward to seeing this one develop!

  6. Mam says:

    The infill looks very like the technique used in Quilling. I wonder which came first – I suspect the embroidery as it is older, though that does not constitute a proof!

  7. Challenging material, I can see you were tempted to join the course. As always you do such neat work and the purls sit nicely inside the golden outlines of the leaves. Looking forward to following your progress.

  8. Dima says:

    This sounds like a great class. I like the idea of finishing the twist at the front. I wonder if it works with passing.

  9. Catherine says:

    What a fascinating class! Thistle Threads does so much for those threads and techniques of times gone by. I look forward to seeing this develop each month!

  10. Meredithe says:

    Looking forward to seeing more of this!

  11. Carolyn Foley says:

    Oh Rachael, stop tempting me with this beautiful kit and new techniques.