Hawthorne & Heaney: Practical Application of Traditional Goldwork

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It can be hard when you get excited and caught up in learning a new technique, but when it comes to applying your skills to a particular item, one often realises it is harder than first thought. For example, you may have seen some of the traditional goldwork items that we often feature as our specialism. This very niche section of embroidery is undoubted very beautiful, but when trying to modernise it or use it in a working item, it becomes a lot more tricky. In conjunction with our sister company, the London Embroidery School, we like to both teach and display some of the possibilities that goldwork has to offer.

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The most recent example of this is the pieces we did for Joshua Kane’s Spring Summer 2016 collection which was shown at London Collections Men last week. These pieces were inspired by lightening which give the goldwork a very crisp look whilst showing off the complexity of the goldwork. Often, goldwork is shown with some accents of silk work, however by keeping purely to the goldwork it makes it look very bold and fresh.

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Placement of pieces such as these is very important as they weigh a lot so the piece of the garment that they can be crafted into need to be very sturdy in itself and not be subject to too much movement when worn . This is why the collar and high waistband as shown above work well with this technique as they will not be agitated in these positions. As can be seen in the images, the positioning of the embroidery and the garment pieces are worked in careful consideration of each other.

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Along with the weight, the height of the embroidery has to be taken into consideration as the padding underneath, forces the goldwork to stand proud of the fabric. This can make for a really interesting design feature, as can be seen in this example, the shadows created by the height add to the depth and texture of the piece.

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With some careful manipulation, the use of traditional techniques can make a very refreshing to classic cuts which has so much possibility. In these pieces there is only 2 types of goldwork material used, which allows for a clean appreciation of the lines and design itself, allowing it to be an interesting addition to the overall look without over powering the garment as a whole.

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If you have an idea that you would like to see come to fruition or are interested in learning more about goldwork, get in touch with us at Hawthorne & Heaney or the London Embroidery School.

Claire Barrett
Claire Barrett is an embroidery designer who has been working in the embroidery industry for six years. A former Creative Director at Hand & Lock, Claire runs Hawthorne & Heaney, dealing with celebrity clients such as Kanye West and high profile companies such as Henry Poole & Company Savile Row tailors. Claire is passionate about making embroidery accessible to everyone by offering sponsorships to young designers and even running the London Embroidery School to teach beginners classes to those who are interested in getting a taste of what embroidery has to offer.
Claire Barrett


Hawthorne & Heaney are an Embroidery company dealing with design, consultation, management and production.
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