Saturday, 11 June 2011

My Time At The Royal School of Needlework

Hello All

I have been doing some quilting this week but nothing that I can show you yet. So in the meantime I have decided to do a post on my time spent studying at the Royal School of Needlework in London.
People get into quilting via all sorts of routes - mine was through embroidery.

I have always sewn, since I was a little girl (age 7). I started with tapestry kits then by age 9 I had moved onto embroidery.
These were worked when i was 9 years old - I know that because my Mum wrote it on the back.

By the time I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to sew on a more serious level.
When I was 19, I applied to the RSN and was accepted. So in 1985, I moved to 500 miles away to London to follow my dream. It was a huge step for a young girl from a smallish town in Scotland. I was terribly homesick for the first few months, but was kept so busy. I stuck with it.

I did the 2 year course which was very intense. 9am til 5.30 everyday then home to do more sewing. The course I did is now stretched over 3 years and is a recognised Foundation Degree.

I graduated in 1987 - which was the year the RSN moved from it's premises at Princes Gate ( just a few doors away from the Iranian Embassy which was raided by the SAS a few years before) to it's current premises at Hampton Court Palace.

I will now take you through some of the work I did. As well as the RSN work I worked on my City and Guilds Embroidery pt 1 at the same time.
I started off with this canvas work cushion.

These are goldwork samples. They were purposely left half finished so one could see the different types of padding used for the relief.


Fleur di Lis

Gold work sample - design taken from the Queen's Coronation robe.

These samples are 25 years old now and although they have been carefully stored ( not carefully enough) there has been some tarnishing. Goldwork will tarnish especially if it is left in the open air. I worked these samples towards the end of my course. not for beginners!

Blackwork Owl.

Smocking sample.

Hardanger sample.

Hedebo sample - a form of whitework.


Sample of crewel work - one of my favourite techniques!

Needlepoint Lace (below)

The photos below are of the most difficult technique - Both sides Alike embroidery. It is used on Regimental Colours and was practically the last technique we learned.




Back - remember this is ONE piece of fabric with the embroidery the same on the back as it is on the front.

Finally, for today I think I will finish with a couple of City and Guild pieces, We had to make a 3-D construction. I decided on a Bedouin tent.

A lot of canvas work in this project!
Finally, finally my Jellyfish panel also for City and Guilds.
My friend Shelley in Australia made the mermaid doll and she now hangs beside the jellyfish.

I realise that some of my samples are looking a bit tatty but they are 25 years old. I have some other work which I just can't find at the moment - a both sides alike crown, whitework cushion and my favourite - a goldwork cross with a saint worked in silk shading. Sadly I fear I have lost this last piece but the others are in the attic. I will did them out one day. Don't forget to click on the photos for a close up view.

I had the best time at the RSN and it will always be one of my proudest achievements. Whilst there, we went to many exhibitions around London, including quilt shows, batik demonstrations at Covent Garden and also a trip to see the Queen's Coronation Robe. I also had the chance to do some restoration work in the workroom 'upstairs' - including working on the funeral pall for Canterbury Cathedral. We ( us students) exhibited our work at the Festival Hall on the Embankment and had a final exhibition at All Hallows Church near the Tower of London, where we presented with our Certificates by the Lord Mayor of London upon graduation.
It really was a blast!
I hope you have enjoyed this post.
Til the next time happy sewing everyone.


Linda Coleman said...

Some fantastic pieces of work

The Nifty Stitcher said...

Thanks Linda.

Liriopia said...

Oh, I so envy you! Wish we had something like that in the states! I started embroidering when I was a little girl and I would love to try some of those techniques.


happydaysquilting said...

What a great post, I am really impressed with your embroidery skills, I loved looking at all the different embroidery methods, Awesome stuff!!

Ivory Spring said...

I am in awe, Rhianon!!! Your work is exquisite.

Paul said...

Rhianon, your talent never ceases to amaze me. Those pieces are beautiful! What a rich history to draw from. No wonder your quilting is so fantastic, it has a solid foundation from which to build.

I enjoyed this post very much. Enjoy your week!


The Nifty Stitcher said...

Thank you Liriopia, Patricia, Wendy and Paul. I really appreciate your comments and I'm glad you enjoyed my post.

Carol said...

You are nothing short of amazing, Rhianon! Absolutely beautiful work!!!

Connie said...

Beautiful work! I have done cross-stitch and some hardanger a long time ago but your crewel is unbelievable!

Wickedly Divine Creations said...

awesome needlework...your mermaid looks right at home too :) I love your owl!

Los Blancos en invierno said...

I envy you too. Like you, I have always sewn.I was taught basic hand sewing and embroidery by my mother and grandmother - and knitting and crochet. The rest I have picked up along the way. When I was 19 I moved to London to do a 15 week intensive shorthand and typing course at Pittman's. I lasted 10 days before deciding that I would never use that knowledge. At 19 and 4 months I moved to the US and 2 months later married the man I had been dating by ail for the past 3 years.

I never knew there was a Royal School of Needlework. I would certainly have tried for it if I had known of it.

Your work is incredible. I imagine that you were one of the star students. I have looked at embroidery in stately homes and wondered how they got it the same on both sides. That is incredible. I hope you do some once in a while just to keep the knowledge.

Like you, my favourite embroidery technique is definitely crewel - especially Tree of Life and Jacobean designs. I have done a few. They end up as cushions and end up getting life washed out of them and then thrown away.

I am so glad that I joined the Quilting Buddies group - if only to see your work. Thanks Beth for pushing me into it.

wilma said...

I so envy you, I to embroidered, knitted, crocheted did tapestry's and made clothes from about age 6/7. both my granny's were great needle women. One did dressmaking, Shetland knitting and millinery the other who only had a thumb and pinkie on one hand and the ends blown of a few of her other fingers from working in the munition factory during the war did all kinds of beautiful needle work. My favourite then was embroidered crinoline ladies. I learnt so much and now have a love of all needle craft. I never thought of doing anything like school of needle work how I wish I had. O my dad is 85 a Taylor and still hand sews or use his treadle singer machine which has a shuttle not a bobbin to make suits or kilts. he still sits crossed legged on a board or the floor !!!! Your work is amazing and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Larissa said...

Oh wow wow WOW!!! I am SOOO struggling with the envy right now :) ... There is *nothing* down here in Australia like the RSN!! What's 'close' is fashion design courses. I love each and every piece you've shown here!! It wouldn't take much to convince me to study through them myself - well, the funds for tuition, living expenses and lodging (for my daughter as well), and a visa & passport, lol! Maybe someday I'll marry a rich man who'll be able to financially support it :)

morganannseaford said...

Your work is gorgeous, reading through your blog was wonderful. I myself am 19 and I have got a place at the Royal School of Needlework starting this September on the foundation degree course! It's so lovely to see the things that you created 25 years ago, it's so surreal! I'm so excited to start to learn all kinds of new things and experience it all! I'm so glad I came across this blog :)

Caraline Howden said...

wow Riannon, such great work, loved seeing the very tight stitching. You have every right to be proud of your work. I can only do a smidge of what you can do. Thanks for sharing your beginnings.

Alena Chenevix Trench said...

I'm in my final year of the RSN 's Future tutor programme. Your pieces are almost identical to ours (coronation gold, both sides alike, goldwork symbols). It hasn't changed that much in years! :)

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