Mellor, used for goldwork embroidery. Mellor, used for goldwork embroidery.

A mellor is a blunt tool about 6-12 cm in length, which is paddle-shaped at one end and pointed at the other. It is a piece of equipment used for goldwork embroidery. The blunt end can be used as a laying tool, to help place the gold thread in position and, if necessary, to make the accompanying silk thread, used for sewing down the gold thread, lie flat.

The pointed end (called stiletto or awl) is used to manipulate the goldwork threads, create shaped corners, make the contour of a curve, nudge gold threads into place, hold down gold thread when sewing it over padding or padding string, as well as for widening holes in the ground material for passing coarse gold thread to the back. According to the British embroiderer, Grace Christie (1912:44, fig. 8), this tool is also called a piercer and made of steel.

Sylvia Groves (1966:90) writes that the mellor is an ancient tool used by goldwork embroiderers for centuries. Groves suggests that the word mellor(e) may be a corruption of the French metre l’or or possibly menne-lourd (mener l’or), the term formally applied to a modelling tool used for wood or ivory inlay work, as well as being used for leading the gold thread over the moulded surfaces in heavily raised work.

The term mellor(e) does not appear in the main English language dictionaries and it may be a mid-twentieth century term that has spread via the internet.

Also written: melore, mellore


  • CHRISTIE, Grace (1912). Embroidery and Tapestry Weaving, London: John Hogg.
  • GROVES, Sylvia (1966). The History of Needlework Tools, London: Country Life.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 22 February 2017).


Last modified on Wednesday, 22 February 2017 14:39
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