of Metal Threads English and (French) Terms
on the blue headings to see a picture of the embroidery thread.
Bullions are very fine wire threads wound into a tubular shape,
similar to purl threads but tend to be stretchier, the making process
of the bullion thread originates in France and was used traditionally
for Military uniforms on the epaulets. The bullion threads range in
size from No. 1 wire bullion being the smallest to No. 10 being the
largest. There are three types of bullion threads, all threads come
as a long tube between 10 inches and 40 inches in length depending on
the type, this tube is cut up into beads and couched down onto the
fabric or over string or felt padding to give the area dimension.
made up of a wire wrapped around a cotton core. The cord has wavy
(kinked) serpentine appearance. Check Thread is couched down
singularly or two strands at a time in the same colour sewing thread
or a contrasting thread. Check Thread is similar to Rococco, but much
finer and more flexible and has a closer wave.
Purl (Faconnee -French)
textured bullion having characteristic spiral configuration.
fine wire tightly wrapped around a cotton core made in France. The
cord has a wavy (kinked) serpentine appearance. Crinkle Cordonnet is
a similar type of metal thread as Rococo, it is easier to turn but
the waves in the thread are not as even. Crinkle Cordonnet is couched
down single in the same colour sewing thread or a contrasting thread.
Worm (Oval Thread)
flattened metal strip is wound around a core yarn giving it a spongy
feel. The thread is then lightly flattened so that the finished
appearance is similar to broad plate but is more flexible and
therefore easier to handle whilst stitching. The thread is couched
down with the same colour or contrasting thread.
the same thread as Pearl Purl in appearance, but the manufacturing
process is slightly different. Jaceron is a
wire that is wound into a tight coil that looks like a strand of gold
pearls. In manufacturing the wire that is wrapped around the needle
to create the coil is slightly larger relative to the needle where as
in the manufacturing of Pearl Purl the wire is the same size relative
to the needle.
metal foil wrapped around a thread core. Japanese threads are
usually couched down two threads at the time (as it fills in the
design area faster) and couched down with the same colour sewing
thread or a contrasting thread in a bricking fashion. If sewn down
with a contrasting thread the Japanese thread can be couched down in
a pattern or in a range of shades, this is known as Or nue.
Back is made up of wire
wrapped around a cotton core. The thread is rounded and smooth in
appearance and turns corners easily when using fine tipped tweezers.
Large Back is couched down singularly in the same colour sewing
thread or a contrasting colour. The thread is
similar to passing thread No. 7 but is about 4 times the thickness.
is a type of pearl purl, and comes in the same sizes . Lizerine is a
flat sturdy coil in comparison to pearl purl and Jaceron which are
rounder with more pronounced pearls.
two part thread, consisting of a central core wire, with a coiled
wire around it. The Milliary wire is couched down in a thread of the
same colour so that the stitches are not visible. Milliary wire is
most appropriate as an outlining thread and
is very interesting to look at.
fine wire tightly wrapped around a cotton core. The thread is
straight and smooth in appearance. Passing is couched down singularly
or double in the same colour sewing thread or a contrasting colour
and is used for the technique of Or nue.
the same thread as Jaceron in appearance, but the manufacturing
process is slightly different. Pearl Purl is
a wire that is wound into a tight coil that looks like a
strand of gold pearls. In manufacturing the wire that is wrapped
around the needle to create the coil is the same size relative to the
needle where as in the manufacturing of Jaceron the wire is slightly
larger relative to the needle.
Purl needs to be stretched before it is used which enables the
couching down thread to slip down between the twist of the wire. Tiny
stitches are used to sew down the pearl purl at 3 or 4 coil intervals
in a thread of the same colour and at the same angle as the twist of
the wire so that the thread slips down between the coils and is
invisible. Pearl Purls metal threads are used as outlines for designs
or in combination with other couched threads as a filling thread for
designs such as leaves. Fine tipped tweezers are a great tool to help
bend Pearl Purl.
are two types of metal Plates:
Plate is a broad flat strip of shiny metal
approximately 1/8th of an inch (3 mm) wide. The plate is laid by
folding the plate back and fourth across a shape, the turn of the
plate is on the edge of the shape (the shape should be simple with a
smooth edge) the couching down stitches are hidden in the turn of the plate.
The plate can also be sewn down by couching a purl bead over the
plate or using a coloured couching thread and sewing down the plate
in a straight line.
Plate is a broad flat shiny metal plate with a wire
wrapped around the plate at an angle. The whipped plate is couched
down in the same method as the broad plate.
threads are similar to Bullion threads and come in the same sizes
but they tend to be firmer and more authentic and are made in the UK.
Purl threads are applied to the fabric in the
same method as the Bullion threads and come in the following appearances:
fine wire tightly wrapped around a cotton core. The cord has wavy
(kinked) serpentine appearance. Rococco is a similar type of metal as
Crinkle Cordonnet, it is not as easy to turn as the Crinkle Cordonnet
but the waves in the thread are far more even. Rococco is couched
down singularly in the same colour sewing thread or a contrasting
thread. Rococco comes in sizes fine, medium and large and is made in
(Paillette - French)
quality metal sequins. The spangles ranges in size from #18 being
the finest to #4 being the largest in gold or silver. The spangles
are couched down with one stitch that crosses the join of the spangle
or with a purl bead couched in the center of the spangle.
Lurex Thread No. 371
is made up of gold synthetic thread wrapped around a cotton core. The
thread is straight and smooth in appearance and turns corners easily
when using fine tipped tweezers.
The thread is couched down singularly in the same colour sewing
thread or a contrasting colour and can be used for the plaited braid
stitch. This thread does not tarnish but has the appearance of a real
(Torsade - French)
are various types of twists.
Twists: Three strands of metal twisted together to
make a cord. Twist size ranges from No. 1 Twist being the finest to
No. 6 Twist being the largest. The twists are couched down in a
thread of the same colour as the cord, by sewing the stitch at the
same angle as the twist of the cord so that the stitches are hidden
in the twist of cord and are invisible.
Metallic Embroidery Thread Light Gold No. 282: DMC
Metallic embroidery thread is a twisted cord. The thread is
synthetic so will not tarnish and makes a good alternative to the
Elizabethan Twist. The DMC metallic thread is
good for filling in shapes in the couching method with the same
colour or contrasting colour. It can also be used in blackwork and
other embroidery techniques as a highlight. The three strands of the
twist can be separated and sewn down singularly.
Twists: The finest of all the twisted cords. The cord
is too fine to be sewn down in the same method as the standard twists
as the stitches would show. The twist is couched down in the same
method as Japanese and Passing threads with the couching down
stitches being a feature.
made up of three separate gold strands made up of a fine gold wire
wrapped around a thread core. The three gold strands are twisted
together to may the Gimp Cord. The strands can be separated. The Gimp
Cord has a mat appearance.
Twists: Four strands of metal twisted together to
make a cord. The Grecian twists tends to be stiffer than the standard
twists an and are sewn down in the same method. Sizes come in fine,
medium and heavy and makes a great outlining thread.
Braids (Soutache - French): A metal braid either twisted
in one colour or a mix of metallic and colour - makes a great
outlining thread and is down by either couching over the braid or
sewing down the center.All
through recorded history fabrics have been enhanced with metal
threads on garments of the kings and emperors, as an aid for worship,
to convey status and to portray wealth.
early thread was a silver wire covered with a gold coating, which
could be drawn out to any thickness and still retain its gold
coating. The thread could then be hammered flat and wound around a
silk core for couching (Japanese threads, Passing threads and
Rococco). The thread could be spun and drawn through a series of
holes in diminishing sizes until the thread was fine enough to spiral
into bullions and purls (Bright Check, Smooth or Rough Purls and
Bullions). The different textured threads were appealing not only for
their colour but for the interesting effect the light played on the
threads when the threads were sewn over padding.
Middle ages brought the greatest use of metal threads in the use on
Church embroidery vestments in what was known as Opus Anglicanum or
English Work. The whole backgrounds of these vestments were worked in
underside couching using silver gilt threads.
new technique called Or Nue came into production in Europe in the
fifteenth century and was used on many vestments. The gold thread was
couched in two strands across the design drawn on the background
fabric with the design lines picked out with the couching thread.
the Elizabethan period gold threads were used on domestic
embroideries, particularly on items of blackwork and silkwork.
the eighteenth century the metal threads were used extensively on
the very flamboyant costumes in the English and continental courts.
nue and church embroidery made a revival in the twentieth century
using the metal threads in new and imaginative ways. with designers
such as Beryl Dean, Jane Lemon and Barbara Dawson and the Royal
School of Needlework.
gold threads today come in a variety of standards:
2% WM is the highest standard gold thread that can be purchased for
Goldwork. 2% gold is also known as Admiralty or Government standard
and are 2% gold on white metal. Gold 2% is a brighter and truer in
colour to real gold than Gilt threads.
is about ½
% of Gold on silver plated copper. Gilt threads are similar in
appearance to the Gold 2% but Gilt tends to be more yellow in colour
and stretchier than the Gold 2%.
of the metal threads come in Gold, Silver and Copper. Some of the
threads are made in blue, red and green colours such as the Twists,
Passing threads and the Russia braids.
these days are made in France, UK, USA and India, standard can vary
from company to company.