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Hey guys, gotta question for embroiderers out there. What type of needle does one use for metal thread embroidery? I am talking about passing thread #5. The problem I am encountering is that normal needles do not have a large enough eye for the metal thread to go through. The ones that do, are too thick and unwieldy and tend to damage the fabric.

The other thing is, I don't necessarily want to couch this thread. The idea of passing thread is that you can pass it through your linen. I want to learn how it is done, and so far I have not found much information out there. Any useful tips will be much appreciated.

I read in my "Metal Thread Embroidery" book that there used to be a "round eye" needle precisely for this, but that they are not making them anymore. However, since people continue embroidering with metals, I suppose that they are solving the problem some other way.

ballistabob tells me that he has a needle among his leatherworking supplies that is thin and has a large eye. I intend to give it a try. But I would like to hear what other people are doing too. I have never embroidered with metals, so this is a new adventure for me.

On other news, I went through my "Dressing the Rapier Fighter" paper, and I realize that it needs to be updated big time. Holy cow! I have really moved away from many of the things that I used to recommend in that class, since I have discovered better ways to make rapier armor that is both functional and cool.

It will take me a while since I basically need to re-write the whole darned thing, but it will be done. Preferably before the end of the year.

Definitely, no rest for the wicked.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 28th, 2006 06:01 pm (UTC)
i've done a fair amount of metal embroidery over the years; i use a reasonably thick and wide-eyed embroidery blunt, in part *because* it will make a larger-than-normal gap in the fabric. the purpose of the blunt is to push warp & weft aside to make a gap, instead of puncturing/rupturing the fibres the way a sharp needle will, thus increasing the longevity and strength of the project - especially important if this is a worn garment or high-use item. you can always comb the base linen a little around the stitched area when you're done to push the weave back together.

the other advantage to the larger hole is that most metal threads - regardless of whether you use real precious metals or the modern mylar counterparts - are foil strips wrapped around a core thread. if the hole in the base linen is tight because you're using a thin needle, you're going to put an enormous amount of pressure on the foil as you pull it through the linen, and eventually strip the foil right off the core. the only really effective way to avoid this problem is to use a larger hole that you can "repair" afterwards; it's a little bit of tedium when finishing, but easier to manage in the long run than constantly stripping your threads because you've been fighting them through a too-tight hole. plus you won't have damaged the base fabric in the process by rupturing the linen with a sharp needle.
Nov. 28th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
That makes a lot of sense. Thanks a million!
Nov. 28th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
First, I gotta tell you that it's very difficult to read this beige text against the brown background. My 40+ non-lasik eyes are very unhappy.

Second, when I couch, I never use metal as the couching thread, only as the thread which is to be couched. I couch with silk. I have used tapestry needles for the metal thread (some are blunt, but I have also used sharpe ones). If you have any questions, I can show you on Thurday what I'm talking about.
Nov. 28th, 2006 07:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks a million. I knew that you couch my metal with silk, not other metal. My problem was related to "passing" metal threads, which are intended to be used like a regular thread, passing through the linen as opposed to couching it with another thread.

I think that Much_Ado has clarified this for me. ;-)
Nov. 28th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
This link might help.
Nov. 28th, 2006 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks :-)
Nov. 28th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC)
Forgive me for replying, but I thought I might help. They still do make round eye needles. If you do a google for "hand made japanese needles" you should get a host of options. You can also get them via Leon Conrad's site. They're darned expensive though. I use a round eye milliner's needle and it works like gangbusters without shredding your passing thread.

Sorry, don't have a LJ for way too many stupid reasons.
Nov. 28th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Needles
Nice! Thank you very much.

BTW, who are you?
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 29th, 2006 03:59 pm (UTC)
Great! I discovered that I had purchased one of those many moons ago at Pennsic, just in case I found use for it one day. Dug it out of my supplies last night. :-)

BTW, where is the Japanese Embroidery Center and, do they have a webpage? Just in case I need to purchase more needles.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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