Wings of Gold!

I had mentioned before that the gold wings Dallas wore on his crew shirt were some kind of Goldwork Embroidery, and that I would have to figure out how to make them.  Well, now it is done, and here is the epic tale of how it was accomplished:

Dallas's Gold Wings

The gold wings on Dallas’s shirt. They seem to be some kind of military style gold work embroidery.

I have only managed to find a single reference photo on the web.  At this point, I don’t really remember where it came from, but I am fairly certain it came from the RPF forums (If anyone sees this and knows the source for this reference, please let me know.  I would love to give image credit where it is due.)  From studying this photograph I pretty much decided that these were made using a technique called “Goldwork Embroidery.”  I then proceeded to search out the materials I would need to re-create these wings for my Nostromo Crew Shirt.

I ended up purchasing four different types of Gilt Gold “Threads” from Garibaldi’s Needle Works:  No. 2 Pearl Purl, No. 6 Wire Check, No. 6 Smooth Purl, and No.6 Rough Purl.  Materials in hand, I had to go about learning the techniques used to create goldwork embroidery designs.  I found a series of video tutorials on YouTube that formed the basis of my knowledge on the techniques, so rather than try to explain how it is done myself, I will just refer you to the source of all my knowledge on the subject:  Goldwork Embroidery Tutorials by Sarah Homfray.

In the end, I got a little bit carried away with the different types of Purl threads and made my wings a little more fancified than those in the reference photo, but I am darn happy with them even though they may not be totally screen accurate.  It looks like the screen used wings were made with a short piece of Pearl Purl around the center circle and the remainder of the design in either all Rough or all Smooth purl.  I ended up adding a little more “texture” to my set of wings, utilizing all four types of threads mentioned above.  In any case, to my way of thinking, they look a whole lot better than the commercially available gold wing patches that I have ever come across, and were a whole lot of fun to make.

Take a look at the progress photos below, or if you are the impatient type, just skip to the end of this post to see the finished product.

Gold Wings Progress 1

A small circle of felt was sewn down onto the base fabric of cotton twill (the same material used to make the shirt) to provide a little puffiness and dimension to the wire check that would be sewn in place over top. The gold border to the center circle is No. 2 Pearl Purl.

Gold Wings Progress 2

At this point the center circle has been filled in with wire check, and the upper edge of the left wing has been completed using Smooth Purl sewn down over top of a piece of cotton yarn to give this section a more dimensional appearance.

Gold Wings Progress 3

This was the extent of my progress after about 6 hours of work. I outlined the inner portion of the wings with the Pearl Purl and filled in the enclosed area with alternating pairs of Wire Check and Rough Purl.

Gold Wings Progress 4

After the next evening of effort on this project after work, the inner sections of both wings is done, and the feathers have begun to take shape. The feathers are created with alternating patterns of Smooth and Rough Purl.

Gold Wings Progress 5

The next day’s work. Inner feathers are completed and the outer row of feathers has been started.

Gold Wings Progress Completed

The completed wings. Notice the differing textures achieved by using 4 different types of Purl threads. While not exactly like the screen used wings, I happen to think they look pretty darn good.

All together, I think these wings ended up taking about 18 hours of work.  I’ve never done any goldwork embroidery before (or any kind of hand embroidery for that matter), so I am very pleased with how these turned out!

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2 Comments

  1. Very very cool. I have been wanting to assemble a crew costume for ages. Love your accuracy and depth of study. At least one person is reading.

  2. Thanks! It’s nice to know that someone is reading this stuff. Sometimes I think I may be the only one who looks at it. LOL After I made these wings I started wishing I had made them a little more screen accurate. It has been a challenge finding good reference for some of this stuff. I have found some different reference photos for the wings since I made them, so there will likely be another post about the wings when I make the new set. Hopefully I can get closer to what was used on film. I got a little carried away playing with the different kinds of gold work threads, and ended up experimenting with what can be done with them rather than making a really accurate copy of the wings.

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