Tips for Sewing with Cloth of Gold or Silver
Cloth of Gold. Just the very name brings up images of a knight in armor and kings with all their medieval court in the days of chivalry. Cloth of gold is a fabric steeped in history. It was created from gold or silver. One of the most famous events in history relating to Cloth of Gold is the Field of Cloth of Gold – the meeting between King Henry VIII and Francis I in June 1520 at Balingham. The meeting and site were thus named because each king tried to outshine the other with a vast display of Cloth of Gold used for tents and costumes. The site must have been amazing to behold. I invite you to do a search to learn a bit more about this event in history as our aim is to talk about sewing Cloth of Gold.
Cloth of Gold or Cloth of Silver that is available today is not made with a percentage of real gold as it was in days gone by. Today, Cloth of Gold is made using synthetic fibers or metallic fibers that are gold or silver-colored. The metallic fibers are a thin metallic film that has been wrapped around a fiber core.
So how does one sew Cloth of Gold or Cloth of Silver? Much will depend on the fabric you select and what type of fiber or yarn that has been used in the weaving. The synthetic fiber Cloth of Gold and Cloth of Silver often have more of a lurex type of yarn and they can have a high luster and sheen.
The Cloth of Gold and Cloth of Silver are wonderful fabrics to select for use as full vestments or for accent pieces such as orphrey bands or appliques. Cloth of Gold is also a frequent fabric used for trimming a Bishop’s miter.
The fabric images shown above are taken as a close-up so that the weave pattern is visible. There is a slight diagonal pattern used in the weave of each of the above.
This is the Lurex Diaper Cloth of Gold. It has a slightly different weave that creates almost a zig-zag effect. Diaper is a term that refers to a particular type of repeating pattern. In this case, it is the repeating zig-zag pattern. Again this is a very close shot so that the details of the weave are visible.
Another type of Cloth of Gold is this pattern which is the Gold/Gold St. Hubert pattern. This fabric is created using metallic fibers. The hand is slightly different as the metallic yarns have a slightly more stiff and springy quality to them.
Orleans Cloth of Gold has a two-tone effect with the red accents on the designs. This is a rich and elegant fabric.
The final Cloth of Gold that we will be looking at today is the Tessuto Dorato Cloth of Gold. This is also woven with a metallic yarn. It has a springy quality to the hand and hangs in wonderful folds. For larger vestments such as a cope, this would be a glorious selection, as would the St. Hubert above. The colors are slightly different with the St. Hubert having a brighter gold, and the Tessuto Dorato having a beautiful sheen and luster that is subtle that will not go unnoticed.
When cutting these fabrics, always use sharp scissors that will give a precise clean cut. Pins may be used, but try to select a fine pin and keep the pins near the edges where possible.
It is a good plan to change sewing machine needles frequently. If any of these projects are in the queue for stitching, it would be a great time to start afresh with a new needle for the machine. Care must be taken to use a sharp fine needle in your sewing machine that will not snag the threads, or leave a large hole. Plan your seams carefully so that they only require stitching one time if possible. Seams that are not sewn correctly that need to be ripped out may leave holes or marks in the fabric. Test your stitch length on a sample fabric to make sure your tension is correct and that your stitch length will work without causing puckers. It might be helpful to lengthen the stitch length to a 2.4 or 2.6 setting for your machine.
One should also take care so as not to fold the fabrics if possible to minimize creases. Some creases and fabrics may press out if they are left folded, while other fabrics will not. When possible, I store these fabrics rolled on a tube. Were you wondering about what to do with those empty wrapping paper rolls?……
On to pressing – special fabrics require special things such as a press cloth when pressing. And be sure your seam is exactly where it is needed before pressing. Press the seam flat as it was stitched to set stitches and then press the seam open. Avoid using steam in your iron (unless you test a sample first to be sure there are no adverse effects).
Sewing with a wider seam allowance is a helpful idea so metal threads won’t escape from narrow seams. Serging helps minimize fraying which happens frequently with metallic fabrics.
Other great uses for these fabrics would be as the background for various embroidery projects for both hand embroidery and machine embroidery. These fabrics could be used for embroidered orphrey bands or for embroidered appliques in various shapes such as quatrefoil embroideries. The Tessuto Dorato Cloth of Gold is a wonderful fabric for appliques that are combined with goldwork embroidery.
So what tips might you have for working with Cloth of Gold or Cloth of Silver? And stay tuned for an update on a new project created using the St. Hubert Cloth of Gold…………..
Soli Deo Gloria
Visit our website at Ecclesiastical Sewing if you wish to purchase any of these special fabrics. We are able to order small quantities for those needing smaller pieces for special embroidery projects.