Royal School of Needlework - Crown to Catwalk

Crown to Catwalk

One of the things that I used to enjoy most about visiting the Knitting and Stitching Shows was seeing the work on display in the textile galleries. Even in pre-Covid times, the shows got too busy for me so I stopped going, preferring to look out for smaller exhibitions instead. When I saw that the Royal School of Needlework was holding a 150th-anniversary show at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, I knew that it would be something I would enjoy.

I decided to wait until I had a week off in July, but then this coincided with the UK experiencing record temperatures and, as someone who really doesn’t enjoy the heat, I had to delay my trip. Then there was industrial action on the trains pretty much every weekend after this, leaving me with only a handful of days when I would be able to visit. I finally made it last week and it was so worth the wait. 

A variety of different techniques were on display – goldwork, silk shading, stumpwork, whitework, blackwork, and appliqué – to name just a few.

Gail Beer – Three Ships / Deborah Wilding – Princess and the Pea

Alex Standring – Fear and Faith / Jung Byun – Peacock mirror

Sarah de Rousset-Hall – David Bowie / Martha Blackburn – portrait

The Red Dress Project, conceived by Kirstie Macleod, was the highlight for me. This ongoing project provides a platform for women to tell their stories through embroidery. Over 250 embroiderers from around the world have worked on the dress so far.

Red Dress Project Kirstie Macleod

A section of The Woodland made by the RSN. An appliqué and surface stitching piece commissioned by a company for its head office. Lucky company.

The Woodland - applique and surface stitching - RSN

A close up of the detail on Livia Papiernik’s cloak.

Cloak detail - Livia Papiernik

Advanced goldwork cockerel by April Astley Birtwistle – stunning!

Goldwork cockerel - April Astley Birtwistle

Nicholas Oakwell’s fabulous ostrich feather dress.

Nicholas Oakwell - ostrich feather dress

I came away from the exhibition feeling very inspired. It closes in early September, so if you haven’t seen it yet and fancy a trip, you’ll need to be quick.


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