Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Double-sided panel with inscriptions and the letters A (appliqué), B (blackwork), C (cutwork), and C. Part of a 34-part embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007.

Content description

Double-sided panel with inscriptions and the letters A (appliqué), B (blackwork), C (cutwork), and C (canvaswork). The front of the panel contains three inscriptions and is worked on a white even weave linen with a blue cotton visible through the drawn work. The first inscription is a rainbow cross-stitched alphabet with small eyelets to fill the remaining space and bordered with wrapped bars, woven bars, cross stitched flowers and leaves, knotted border stitch, woven wheel corners, and a triangular satin stitched border.

The second inscription reads, 'I read and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand' in cross stitches of green, orange, and red silk thread. The spaces between the lines are filled with drawn squares and woven wheels and the border is worked in framed cross filling. The third inscription reads, 'Isabel Elliott is my name with my needle I wrought the same', which is a typical sampler verse. This has been worked in Gobelin stitches in white cotton thread. The spaces are filled with blackwork patterns in purple thread and a cross stitched border in reds and yellow silks. The outer borders are worked in double twist, framed cross filling, and satin stitches.

The left and right sides demonstrate a number of drawn thread techniques, including counted satin stitch, woven bars, wrapped bars, woven wheels, overcast edging, and framed cross filling stitch. It reads at the bottom left and right: 'finished 2007'.

The back of the panel, made of unbleached linen of varying sizes, features an inscription on top followed by four appliqued panels. The inscription, rendered in green cross stitch and black back stitch, reads, 'When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less'. The spaces around the words are filled with white satin stitched stars and triangles. This section has been worked in cotton and silk threads.

The 'A panel features a silver leather appliquéd 'A' and the 'pplique' rendered in backstitched squares in dark pink cotton. Above and below the letters are two patterns in white thread, the upper in a Milanese stitch and the lower in a fan stitch. The B panel has a blackwork 'B' with multiple patterns and a couched gold thread outline. 'lackwork' is worked in backstitched squares in dark blue cotton. Three white flowers in backstitch and cross stitch are equally spaced above and below the letters. The first C panel has a 'C' with the letter cut out and surrounded by buttonhole edging. 'utwork' is worked in green backstitched squares in cotton and surrounded by counted satin-stitched motifs in white cotton. The second C panel has a 'C' rendered in blue, green, and red canvaswork stitches in cotton and silk threads, including cashmere, cross, Algerian eye, Gobelin, leaf, and shell stitches. 'anvaswork' is done in dark teal back stitched cotton squares, with leaf, cushion variation, and flat squares in white threads surrounding the letters.

This panel is one of 34 parts of an embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007. Elliott embroidered a large box which houses 32 four-sided booklets. Each booklet focuses one on letter of the alphabet and embroidery technique whose first letter matches that letter of the alphabet (A for appliqué, B for blackwork, etc.). Some letters have multiple booklets due to having multiple techniques. This large and impressive group of objects was made by Dr Isabel Margaret Elliott (1931-2016). She received her PhD from Cambridge in 1958 and became a paleobotanist at the Natural History Museum in London. It is clear that her love of science and the natural world influenced her embroidery. When she married her husband, Isabel was made to leave her job (as the Natural History Museum was then part of the civil service and married women were not allowed to be part of the civil service). She began to attend classes at the RSN after meeting a woman embroidering for a class run by that organisation. After the RSN she joined the Embroiderers' Guild. She became a Life Member of the Guild and gained her City & Guilds, which enabled her to teach. She was Mistress of Embroidery at Gloucester Cathedral and was a travelling tutor throughout the UK. Elliott produced an immense amount of embroidery, much of which is available to view at


width: 30.5cm
height: 23cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework