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The Royal School of Needlework teaches hand embroidery to the highest standard, developing techniques in new and innovative ways. This book includes an extensive stitch guide, covering all the stitches necessary for crewel embroidery, a design section, and a history of the Royal School itself. Although it is commonly thought of as a woven tapestry, the Bayeux Tapestry is in fact the oldest surviving example of crewelwork. The illustrations on the piece tell the story of the events leading up to the Norman Conquest, and are embroidered on to the linen surface with a two-ply worsted wool. Laid stitches (see page 43) were used for the characters and scenery; couching (see page 60) for outlines and stem stitch (see page 58) to define detail and to render the lettering. Worsted wools are thought to have originated in the farming village of Worstead in Norfolk. This native resource, most appropriate to the British climate, was manufactured into clothing and became one of Britain's most successful industries. To this day the inhabitants of Worstead continue the tradition of spinning, dyeing and weaving fleece from local sheep. Although primarily spun to produce woollen cloth, at some point it became popular to use this yarn to embroider. At first, monochrome motifs stitched in wool, with a small number of different stitches, such as stem and seeding, (see page 50) were the most common, but embroidered curtains and bed hangings that resembled designs inspired by woodcut prints are known. Foreign trade created by Elizabeth I, initially devised to bring back valuable spices, found a foothold in Northern India where English merchants picked up coffee in Mocha and cloth in Gujarat. Egyptian trade was found to be profitable as they too welcomed cotton cloth in exchange for silver, which reduced the drain on English silver, while the Persians provided a market for the English woollens. Inevitably some of these Indian and African fabrics made it back to Europe, where they were well-received. Pampalores and pintadoes, painted calicos that came to be known in England as chintz, were produced on the Coromandel coast of India and became very popular in the now-furnished households of Britain. By the late seventeenth century, cheap, washable cotton cloth and luxurious woven silks were in huge demand and contributed to the changing fashions in Britain. Fine, beautiful fabrics encouraged less padding to be worn and instead more to be added to the furniture, which during the Tudor period had been fairly stark. Furnishings obviously called for something a little more durable than clothing and designers began to create textile furnishings with easily accessible and more resilient materials such as dyed wools and heavy-duty linens; their designs inspired by the fashionable tree of life patterns found on the pampalores. After the Protestant Reformation there was little demand for ecclesiastic work, so it was more common to see embroidery used for secular and domestic objects. Crewel embroidery thus became more popular, and professional craftsmen, laden with pattern books, travelled the country redesigning the interiors of the wealthy; adorning country houses with cosy furnishings, panels, fire screens and bed-hangings embroidered with exotic illustrations. The lady of the house would then embroider these patterns with colourful crewel wools. Crewelwork reached its peak in popularity during the following Stuart period, after Elizabeth I died and James VI of Scotland acceded to the throne of the United Kingdom as King James I. Increasingly, amateur embroiderers took up needlework for pleasure and to furnish their own home, and it became the done thing for a young lady to accomplish.
Product Details

Table of Contents

The Royal School of Needlework 6 Introduction 8 The history of crewelework 10 Materials and equipment 12 Design and using colour 18 Framing up 24 Positioning the design 28 Transferring hte design 29 Starting to stitch 30 + STITCHES 32 Essential stitches 34 Filling stitches 36 Outline stitches 56 Surface stitches 70 + Building up your design 84 Index 96

About the Author

Jacqui McDonald's background lies in the conservation and restoration of antiquities and she spent seven years caring for the contents of some of the most beautiful houses in the National Trust. It was here that her passion for embroidery was born. Having been constantly surrounded by beautiful textile furnishings such as tapestries, bed hanging's, tassels and furniture upholstered in the most exquisite petit point, her inquisitive, artistic and practical nature inevitably led her to recreate items for herself. The passion for her new hobby was so powerful, that it was not long before she made the decision to sacrifice the perfect job to join the Royal school of Needlework's three-year apprenticeship. The long-term plan was to combine her conservation skills with all the traditional hand embroidery techniques she was learning, to preserve textile heirlooms for the future. Jacqui flourished at the school, and became more confident drawing, designing and working out how to produce ideas with accuracy and precision. On graduating top of the class and attaining a triple distinction, she decided to become a freelance embroiderer and now works from her studio in Hampshire as well as attending the RSN in a teaching role where she enjoys passing on her skills and experiences to others passionate about embroidery. Jacqui's designs are still heavily influenced by traditional interiors and historical architecture that she enjoyed during her time with the National Trust and whilst studying at Hampton Court Palace.


This is a perfect guide to crewelwork. Compact in size, handy to fit into a bag or pocket, with a lay-flat spiral binding, the book contains full colour photographs of great clarity. Jacqui, a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework, covers every aspect of this traditional technique and the detailed instructions will inform and encourage all embroiderers. An excellent, value-for-money volume.-East Kent Embroiderers' Guild Jacqui McDonald shows us detailed instructions on how to work basic and more complex stitches in crewelwork. The book includes an extensive stitch guide, covering all the stitches necessary for crewel embroidery, a design section, and a history of the Royal School of Needlework.-Machine Knitting Monthly In this invaluable stitch guide, Jacqui McDonald, Graduate Apprentice and tutor at the Royal School of Needlework, gives you detailed and illustrated instructions on how to work basic and more complex stitches. The inspirational finished works show how the stitches can be used and also includes an extensive stitch guide and a history of the Royal School itself. If you want to add some embellishment to your quilt or wall hanging, this is a great book to get you started.-Fabrications This new series of Essential Stitch Guides from the Royal School of Needlework provides expert tuition on traditional techniques. At first glance this may look like a specialised stitch dictionary, but 'technique dictionary' would be a more accurate description. There are no designs to copy, but there are plenty of ideas to encourage you to come up with your own designs. Information about transferring your design onto the fabric and stretching the fabric into an embroidery frame emphasises the importance of good preparation - before you get around to the fun of stitching. With every stitch shown in clear step-by-step photos, the biggest decision will be which stitches to use. Jacqui McDonald is a Graduate Apprentice and tutor at the Royal School of Needlework and through photos of beautifully worked pieces her meticulous work really showcases the stitches.-Stitch A beautifully presented book with hard cover and reasonably priced. The author is a product of The Royal School of Needlework, therefore the stitched samples are immaculately worked and instructions for dressing a slate frame and transferring a design are very precise and well illustrated. Doubtful whether many embroiderers use slate frames at home any more but information is useful. Very interesting historical facts on the fabrics, needles and wools used in crewelwork and some lovely old embroideries shown. As the author states this is not a book for particular projects and designs, more it shows you how to form your own design and where to look for inspiration. There are some delightful animals and a Tree of Life worked by the author and an unusual treatment of a leaf in the Contemporary section. There is a large section on stitches with good diagrams and a beginner to crewelwork would appreciate this book.-West Country Embroiderers This is a wonderful guide to crewelwork. Colour photographs cover every aspect of this traditional technique, backed up by detailed instructions that cover both basic and complex stitches. Information on tools, preparation and creating your own designs are included, making this great value for money.-Embroidery Magazine Jacqui McDonald's field of expertise lies in the conservation and restoration of antiquities, so her handy volume on Crewelwork, published in conjunction with the Royal School of Needlework is right up her street. She teaches at the RSN and also works as a freelance using her wide experience of ancient textiles for inspiration. The book is very user friendly with a spiral ring binding which is always easier to manage when stitching. The content is a delight, with page after page of excellent photographs of work in progress and completed pieces. There is reference to the RSN and the history of crewel work and some very informative sections on materials and equipment. Fabrics, threads and needles are described, followed by sections on design and using colour. Traditional and modern Crewel work are both shown in excellent photographs, and there is a lot of inspiration in this book. Stitch methods are not overlooked and there are lots of different stitches illustrated which shoukd be enough to inspire any Crewelworker, new or experienced. This a very useful and interesting

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