About Bullion & Metal Thread Embroidery

Purl or perl (in English) and bullion (in French) has historically been used to add rich texture to hand embroidery. It is a traditional embellishment for ecclesiastical, military, ceremonial, and formal attire.

Purl is made from fine metal wire which is coiled into a spring-like spiral. It is typically cut into short pieces, using a sharp scissors, and stitched into place like beads, with the needle passing through the spiral�s hollow center. Sometimes these purl beads are stitched over padding. Longer purl pieces may be couched onto the fabric.

    Purl comes in various diameters and several styles, including:

  • Smooth Purl (English), Bullion Brillant (French). Made by wrapping a flat wire around a cylindrical form, smooth purl has a bright, shiny appearance.

  • Rough Purl (English), Bullion Matte (French). A round wire is wrapped around a cylindrical form. Rough purl has a dull surface.

  • Check Purl (English), Frieze Brillant (French). Check purl is made by wrapping round wire around a square form. The resulting angles create a rough, sparkling texture.

When working with it, remember that bullion is delicate. It�s easily stretched beyond its elastic limit, and after that, will not return to its original shape.

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Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Syracuse, Inc.
(Immaculate Heart Convent)
206 Highland St.
Syracuse, NY 13203