Chip work

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This is a Goldwork technique, which uses Bright Check Purl to fill an area encased in Pearl Purl.

There are 3 distinct stages to this stitch:

1 The outlining of the area

Cut the Pearl Purl to the correct size (if in doubt, cut it slightly too long for now: you can always trim it down further at the end).

Couch it onto the fabric. (You’ll find the Pearl Purl couching tutorial HERE.)

2 The padding stage

Cut a shape of felt to fill the entire area within the Pearl Purl outline.

Place it down and stitch it into position with a few stitches around the edge. They don’t have to be particularly pretty or small – they’ll be covered up eventually.

It’s best to match the colour of the felt to the colour of the metal used – this will ensure that space left between the chips does not show through. As I’ll be using gold metal here, I’ve opted for a golden shade of felt.

3 The covering stage

Turn to the Bright Check Purl, and cut it into small fragments (called chips). Make sure you use Goldwork scissors to do so, and not your favourite embroidery scissors! These scissors have a serated blade to prevent the metal threads from gliding out while you cut them. It’s too fine for the eye, but you can feel the ridges when you rub your fingers over the serated blade. Whatever you do, do NOT use your embroidery scissors to cut metal threads, or they’ll never cut thread again!

These little chips should be as long as they are wide. It is quite tricky to achieve as the Bright Check Pearl is only about 1.4mm wide, so the chips should be really tiny!! It’s not the end of the world if they end up being a little too long, but as a result it will be trickier to achieve good coverage when you stitch the chips onto the felt. So it’s best to make sure they are as square as possible.

It’s best to use a felt pad, onto which to cut the chips. The velvet pile prevents them from flying around everywhere. If you don’t have a felt pad, you can use a beading tray lined with a layer of felt. It’s not as efficient, but it does the trick well enough.

Treat the chips as beads: one by one, thread a chip onto the needle, move it to the end of the thread, lie it flat on its side to hide the hole, and push the needle back through the fabric to keep it firmly into place.

  • TOP TIP: use a SHARP needle for the chip work – it will make it much easier to stitch through the layer of felt!

Make sure that each chip is stitched in a different direction, so that they all look as random as possible, and fill every little nook and cranny. This will create a seamingly messy fill, but precisely because all the chips are facing different directions, they will catch the light and reflect it in a most splendid way, from any angle. It’s quite stunning!

Happy stitching!

Faby xx

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