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  • Publisher: Search Press
  • Edition: BC Paperback
  • Publication: 14 October 2021
  • ISBN 13/EAN: 9781800920170
  • Carton Qty:
  • Size: 216x280 mm
  • Illustrations: 350
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $19.95
  • Series: RSN Essential Stitch Guides
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RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Goldwork


Large format edition by Helen McCook

Edelweiss Buy Now
Book Description

A new, larger format edition of the Royal School of Needlework's essential guide to goldwork, giving you all you need to create beautiful stitched work with metal thread.

A new, larger format edition of the classic reference work on goldwork embroidery by the Royal School of Needlework (RSN). The Essential Stitch Guides provide a set of definitive works on traditional embroidery techniques. 

Written by Helen McCook, Graduate Apprentice, Tutor and renowned embroiderer, this book begins with an historical account of goldwork, then moves on to the materials and equipment required; framing up, how to transfer a design on to fabric and how to start and finish a thread. The main section of the book then covers all of the essential stitches and techniques through clear, step-by-step diagrams and photographs, coupled with beautiful, close-up photographs showing how then can be used in a finished piece.

All the key traditional techniques are included: couching, bricking, basketweave, cutwork, spangles, s-ing, pearl purl, plate and kid. The book ends with beautiful and exquisitely-worked examples of how the techniques can be combined in finished pieces.

The RSN teaches hand embroidery to the highest standard and is well respected all over the world. It not only upholds the traditions of English embroidery that go back many hundreds of years, but is constantly taking embroidery forward in new and innovative ways.

Table of Contents

The Royal School of Needlework 6, Introduction 8, The history of metal thread work 10, Materials and equipment 14, Framing up 24, Design 30, Starting to stitch 34, Order of work 36, Padding 38

Methods 44
Couching 45, Combining threads 45, Japanese gold 46, Turning and plunging 47, Bricking 50, Couching in a circle 51, Pearl purl 52, Twists 54, Basketweave 56, Cutwork 58, Cutwork chips over felt 59, Cutwork purls over felt 60, Cutwork purls over soft string 62, Flat cutwork 64, Kid 65, S-ing 66, Spangles 68, Spangles held on with purls 69

Plate 70
Attaching plate over soft string 71, Attaching plate over felt 72

Stitching with gold threads 73
Chain stitch 74, Feather stitch 75, Pekinese stitch 76, Trellis stitch 77

Using colour 78
Diaper couching 78, Or Nué 80, Or Nué with paint 82

Combining techniques 86
Three Wishes 86, Indian Summer 88, Spring Flight 89, More a Scottish Thistle than an English Rose 90, Pomegranate and Gilly Flower 92, Snowdrops 94

Index 96

About the Author

About Helen McCook

Helen McCook is a tutor for the prestigious Royal School of Needlework. She has extensive experience in theatre and film costume, and pieces of her work can be found in private collections and galleries worldwide, including in the British Royal Collection. Her work has been featured in EmbroiderySelvedgeVogue and Vanity Fair.

Helen was appointed as the first artist in residence for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s educative initiative and works as an associate lecturer at Scottish National Portrait Gallery, National Portrait Gallery (London) and Holyrood Palace. Helen worked as part of the RSN team which created the embellishment for the shoes; veil and wedding dress for Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and has worked on a variety of private commissions.


RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Goldwork is a comprehensive book that seeks to share the history of the needlework technique, the tools required to try it, a breakdown of the associated techniques as well as images of inspirational projects.

The images are sublime and are a testament to the true beauty of this technique and the interwoven elements of colour, light, and texture.

The contents page is clear and inspiring with such rich colours and textures. The introduction includes background information about the Royal School of Needlework as well as the technique of Goldwork itself before then providing a detailed exploration of fabric, threads, hoops and frames, tools and more. It provides clear and easy to follow information about how to frame up or hoop up depending on your preference and project.

What I really like is that this book does not presume prior knowledge, so it really does guide you through the whole process in a way that is useful for experienced stitchers and new stitchers alike.

Next, the book moves onto the methods involved in goldwork. These methods include couching with different threads, finishing your stitching with different threads, how to handle angles when stitching, cutwork, basketweave and more. I had a go at couching with rococo, before subsequently following the instructions for couching angles.

The book then moves onto the stitches that can be used as surface stitches in goldwork (chain stitch, feather stitch, trellis stitch). I cant wait to try these out!

Lastly, the book presents a section on Combining Techniques. In this section, a range of photos are presented along with information about the materials and techniques used.

All in all, this is a beautiful book.


Like most RSN embroidery books, this book is heavily focused on the techniques. With excellent instructions and pictures, you learn a wide variety of techniques from designing to framing up. 


I received a copy of Helen McCooks Goldwork through a competition on Search Press and Im thrilled with my copy. Goldwork is a gorgeous technique which is made very approachable using the step by step treatment  in this book. Following an introduction into the technique and its history the book details all the materials and equipment you need alongside descriptions of the best way to set these up.

The large format of the book means the photographs that go with the instructions are of good size and very clear. The mid section of the book goes through how to use each type of thread and the different effects achievable using different stitches, with clear photographs of each step.

The final section of the book examines some projects done by the author with descriptions of how they were done. These are written in a way to inspire the reader to develop their own work. Overall, this book has a clear and thorough approach which leaves the reader reader to pick up a needle and get stitching.


This book is a reformatted, larger version of the original 2012 edition. Its A4 which makes it much easier to read, see and use because everything is printed larger. Ive seen goldwork mentioned in various embroidery books so I wondered what I could actually learn from a specific book on it and how a whole book could be dedicated just to that technique but wow theres a lot of content and different ways of using gold and metallic elements in your embroidery work.

Its absolutely full of step-by-step pictures and instructions to show you how to use gold thread and add sequins all the way up to much more complicated pieces incorporating multiple goldwork techniques using plate, couching, padding, purl and more. The instructions are clearly worded and pictured in detail so that you can easily follow along. There is a vast array of different techniques and these range from traditional designs to more contemporary and modern.

I have a number of these RSN books and Im always amazed at the sheer amount of information and variety in techniques they provide within each highly specific area of embroidery. It really is the book I didnt know I needed and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to incorporate goldwork in their embroidery because you wont find a more detailed, wide-ranging techniques book anywhere.


I'm a goldwork beginner and feels this is a fantastic book which will help me alongside the kits I've bought. Clear photos alongside clear explanations of the materials and equipment needed, along with illustrated info on different types of stiches and techniques used in goldwork. There are also a few beautiful examples of completed work.

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