Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tutorial: Or Nue

My Favourite Tutorial - post header

As part of the 12 days of Stitchy Christmas I posted about adding SPARKLE to your embroidery. One of the techniques I suggested was Or Nue and today I am sharing a tutorial on how to stitch Or Nue embroidery.
First gather your materials- you need a metallic floss and some coloured floss. Traditional Or Nue is worked using specialist goldwork threads (gold passing thread) but the good news is you can try this technique with any metallic floss. I've used Maderia metallic floss here as thats what I had to hand but you could use regular DMC metallic floss or whatever you can dig out of your stash.

This style of embroidery is worked by couching the metallic floss with coloured floss. You can do this in a spiral or in rows. I'm going to use two strands of metallic; to start take the ends through the fabric and secure them to the back of the fabric.

To get a tight spiral lay the floss down in a spiral shape and make a few stitches using the coloured thread to hold it in place. Note how I have drawn my design onto the fabric - the design will be formed by changing the colour of the couching thread.

Once you have the start of the spiral you can go back and couch over the threads. Couching just means making stitches over the top of a thread to hold it in place- just like working tiny satin stitches in coloured floss over the top of the metallic floss. Leave bits of gold thread twinkling through here and there. How much you choose to obscure the gold thread is up to you and will give different effects. I would say it's easier to create detail if your design is quite densely couched. Once you reach the end of the metallic floss you have stitched down just keep going- it is only the centre of the spiral that needs stitching down first.

The fun part! When you get to a different coloured part of the design switch to a different coloured thread for the couching. So in this example I have switched to a light beige thread and have couched the gold thread down less densely.

Hints and tips:
When I am swapping threads to change colour rather than snipping the thread I use the needle to 'pin' the length of thread out of the way of my stitching, then when I am swapping back to that colour I just unpin and carry on stitching. So I would have more than one threaded needle being used on a piece.
If you want to use several colours you might find it easiest to use a fine sewing thread to couch down your gold thread first and then work the sections of colour over the top after. Achieve different texture by stitching over multiple rows- I have done this in the blue border.
I hope you give it a go, be sure to let us know if you do!
What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!


  1. I'd encourage people to give the technique a try. It doesn't grow quickly, but it looks spectacular!

  2. I will have to try this. I have a lot of metallic floss and I do not like working with it. This may be a good way to use it up!

    1. Try it! You don't get the snagging and shredding you usually get with metallics because its not having to pass through the fabric.


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