Friday, April 4, 2014

Elizabethan Black Work Coif, Materials

The inspiration piece for this coif is in the V&A Museum, and can be seen here.  It is made of linen, using silk thread for the black work and silver gilt threads for the metal embroidery.  The black work is done in stem stitch for the outlines, with speckling around the edges of the motifs.  The metal embroidery uses plaited braid stitch for the scrolling vines, chain, vandyke, web and ladder stitches for the details on the motifs.

I used a piece of linen that had been set aside for use as a veil.  In hind sight, I wish I had used a better linen.  The thread count is low, making this very open (as you can see in the close up above.)  This has affected the speckling, as the tiny stitches needed either got lost in between the thread gaps, or were too large.  I finally got into the groove and was able to work with the linen.  It also affected my goldwork.  I had done wome preliminary filling in one of the motifs using Ceylon stitch and the Japan silk I am using did not lay even, so I took the stitches out.  The linen threads loosened and created gaps where the gold had been and I have carefully had to put the threads back, using a blunt tipped needle.

Speaking of threads...I used a black silk from White Wolf and Phoenix, a size 10/2, I believe.  I chose this because I was not certain how much I would need for this project, and a ball of this stuff was only about $4 or $5.  Otherwise, I probably would have used Splendor, as I love the flat sheen in the silk.

The gold is Kreinik Japan silk #5.  While there are better behaving, and better looking, metal threads, I had a bunch of the Kreinik on hand, so it was efficient and economical for me to use.  It doesn't always play well, going in and out of the fabric (it couches much better than it stitches.)  However, with a careful hand and a lot of gentle untangling, it is doing okay.  So far, I have used it for the plaited braid in the vines, and the web stitches in the rose and the pea pods, as well as with chain stitches in the honeysuckle.  I need to practice my vandyke and ladder stitches before I attempt to use them in the motifs, however, the rest of it is looking okay to me.


  1. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it!
    There is a lovely range of stitches in this coif.