Royal School of Needlework

Royal School of Needlework

Delicate antique collars, sleeves and cuffs; christening robes and baby caps; fine underwear and Sunday-best table linen and handkerchiefs exemplify some of the most intricate pieces of Whitework embroideries to form part of the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) exhibition from its Collection from May to December 2015.

Whitework Example from the Royal School of Needlework exhibition

Co-curated by Dr Clare Rose (RSN Degree Contextual Studies Lecturer) and Dr Susan Kay-Williams (RSN Chief Executive) this exhibition demonstrates how Whitework was once part of everyday life with women and young girls spending hours creating these intricate works of art for very practical uses.

Dr Clare Rose comments, “In the past, Whitework embroidery was big business, with professionals producing monogrammed underwear sets for Princesses – and for lesser mortals. Ayrshirework christening gowns and women’s accessories were worked on by teams of embroiderers, with apprentices doing the edging and the most highly skilled doing the delicate needlelace fillings. The value of Whitework can also be seen in the care that was taken to maintain it, from starch glazing and ironing after every wash, to meticulous darns to repair torn muslin ruffles. Whitework is one of the most international techniques, and the exhibition will feature pieces from Bengal and the Philippines.”

Whitework Example from the Royal School of Needlework exhibition

Although the exhibition features one embroidery technique there is a great variety in the pieces on show, for example, an exceptionally fine handkerchief from the Paris Exhibition of 1867 representing the Egyptian Pavilion; a set of miniature garments made in 1844 comprising skirt, boned bodice, bloomers, petticoat, nightdress, shirt and socks; a toddler gown featuring the Prince of Wales Feathers and Ayrshirework, a tea cosy in pulled thread work and bedding featuring a cottage scene.

Whitework Example from the Royal School of Needlework exhibition

Dr Susan Kay-Williams says, “The quality of work is exquisite and features several of the Whitework techniques including Carrickmacross, Hollie Point, Cutwork, Pulled threads, Hardanger and Ayrshirework.”

Contemporary applications of Whitework will be represented by examples from RSN Diploma students and graduates showing how these delicate techniques can be used to create an amazing variety of patterns, textures and designs all without any colour.

Whitework Example from the Royal School of Needlework exhibition

The exhibition takes place at the RSN’s base at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey on set days each month and pre-booking in advance is essential. Tours are 1.5 hours and cost £16 per person and groups are welcome too. You’ll listen to a short illustrated lecture on the RSN and Whitework and then be shown around the exhibition by volunteer tour guides.

To book for the RSN Whitework Exhibition visit or telephone +44(0)20 3166 6941.

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Hello, Mr X Stitch here. I thought I’d tell you about my recent Xploits. It is a life less ordinary.

Two weeks ago today the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show started at Olympia in London. Organised by Upper Street Events, it is a great show for fans of needlecraft with a wealth of stalls selling all the materials you might need to get your stitch on.

New cross stitch learners at the Inspiration Station

It was my fifth year with a space there, and the second year that I was hosting an Inspiration Station with close support from the Royal School of Needlework and the Young Embroiderers Guild.

Young Embroiderers' work in the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station at the 2015 Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

We had a great selection of competition entries for this year’s Young Embroiderers De Denne competition – the theme was All That Glistens Is Not Gold and we had a range of ideas. One of my personal favourites was Laura Clough’s “Dew in the Morning”:

Dew in the Morning by Laura Clough

As well as these fantastic Young Embroiderer pieces we also had the World’s Longest Embroidery draped all over the stand and people were invited to add a motif to it.

Stitching on the World's Longest Embroidery


We had the amazing goldwork of Charlotte “Hanging By A Thread” Bailey which was arguably the finest embroidery in the building. It was Charlotte’s first proper exhibition and great to see her receiving the praise she deserves from needlework fans of all ages.

Charlotte Bailey explains her goldwork to a rapt audience at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

All in all, it was a great show. We spent four days chatting with people, teaching cross stitch to children and adults from all walks of life. We met some interesting amateur stitchers, including the super-fast Powerjen, and also spent a lot of time promoting lovely cross stitch designers like Bobo Stitch and Hannah Bass.

RSN Degree Students Teaching Cross Stitch in the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station at the 2015 Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

The show had the usual mix of stitchy sellers and knitting names, and I enjoyed catching up with Jane Greenoff, Sue and Heather from the Knitting Hut, the guys from Black Sheep, and the mighty Toft Alpaca Farm, whose Crochet Jungle was a magnificent installation.

Toft Alpaca's Crochet Jungle at the 2015 Spring Knitting & Stitching Show


The Show was over before it began and the four days flew by, but everyone involved had a great time and we managed to create a whole new bunch of needlecraft ninjas as well. Thanks to everyone who helped out – we’ll see you at the next event!

Young Embroiderers In Action

Were you there? What was the show like for you?


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It's a newsflash! Embroidery And Textile Art News From Mr X Stitch

If you’re looking for somewhere to buy high quality stitchery supplies (and you’ve been to the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show) then head over to Hampton Court and check out the Royal School of Needlework Grand Sale!

Royal School of NeedleworkRSN Grand Sale

Friday 6 – Saturday 7 March 2015
10am – 4pm
Admission £3, includes entry to our Grand Draw

Join us for our ‘not to be missed’ Grand Sale and buy haberdashery, fabrics, embroidery frames, books, trimmings, canvases, one-off collectables, vintage curios, accessories and more. All the money raised will help our work in keeping the art of hand embroidery alive.

Royal School of Needlework Haberdashery

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Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

Oh yes, it’s nearly time for the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show and I’m getting ready to host another Inspiration Station for everyone! Featuring work from the De Denne competition by Young Embroiderers from across the UK, some terrific work from the uber-talented Charlotte “Hanging by a Thread” Bailey and the mighty Lord Libidan, and some great examples of embroidery courtesy of the Royal School of Needlework, there will be free cross stitch for you to try and it’s bound to be a great place to be!

It's the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

We’ll be at Stand F50 so be sure to come and say hi! I’ll have some free calendars to give to people who ask for them, so if you’re paying attention that’ll be a nice freebie that’s still useful for ten months!

Hopefully you can make it to the show – it’s a great day out and filled with interesting stitchy stuff to look at. But don’t just take my word for it – here’s what the organisers have to say!

Dust off your sewing box and join us at the craft show of the year! The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, Olympia, London. 5-8 March 2015

Spring is the perfect time to start some new craft projects and The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show offers everything you need to get started. Held at Olympia London, from 5th – 8th March 2015 the show offers the best craft products, workshops and inspiration all under one roof.

Shop from over 200 exhibitors offering fabric, yarn, patterns, threads, haberdashery and sewing machines. Treat yourself to some expert tuition in one of The Learning Curve Workshops which offer an extensive selection of practical classes covering knitting, crochet, patchwork and quilting and everything in between.

For those who want to make their own clothes we also offer The Dressmaking Studio* with a series of workshops dedicated to buttonholes, hems, seam finishing, zip insertion, dart, pleats, understanding patterns and everything else relating to dressmaking!

It's the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show

If you’re seeking ideas for interior projects, come along to The K&S Homestyle Theatre in association with Janome where we offer free sessions from sewing experts such as Lauren Guthrie from the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee, on all kinds of home furnishing ideas.

We also have some sensational features this year including Riviera Style Resort & Swimwear from the Fashion & Textile Museum; The Crochet Jungle brought to you by TOFT, plus an entirely Knitted Farm.

For a full list of features and workshops and to book tickets, please visit or call 0844 848 0159

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