Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Panel with motifs of P for pulled thread, Q for quilting, R for running stitch, S for shadow work, S for stump/raised work, T for tambour/chain, U for underside couching, V for void/Venetian, W for whitework, X for cross stitch, Y for yet more stitches, and Z for still stitching. Part of a 34-part embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007.

Content description

Double-sided panel with twelve appliqued panels, six on each side, representing the letters P, Q, R, S, and T on one side and U, V, W, X, Y, and Z on the other. Both sides of the panel consist of unbleached linen with appliquéd bleached linen rectangles.

The 'P' for 'Pulled thread' is worked in pulled work with a red slip behind it for contrast. 'ulled thread' is worked in small, back stitch squares in orange cotton thread. Above and below are pulled thread techniques, including honeycomb filling, honeycomb darning, square eyelets, small round eyelets, single faggot, four-sided stitches, and counted satin stitches, all worked in white cotton thread. The 'Q' for 'Quilting' is quilted with white silk threads on a white synthetic ground using back stitches. 'uilting' is worked in back stitches to create small squares out of blue cotton thread. Above and below are geometric back stitch designs. The 'R' for 'Running stitch' is worked in blue and green wool and cotton threads in a series of running and darning stitches to create straight and zigzag patterns. 'unning stitch' is worked in back stitches to create small squares out of green cotton thread. Between the words are herringbone ladder filling stitches and cable chain stitches worked in white cotton threads.

This panel has two S's, as there are two different techniques beginning with that letter. The first 'S', for 'shadow work', is worked in double back stitch using shadow work, with a thin white mesh atop a blue fabric. This is bordered with a white cord. 'hadow work' is made of back stitches in purple cotton thread. Above and below are four rows of herringbone stitch in white cotton thread. The second 'S', for 'stump/raised work', features lilac and green cotton threads used to create what appear to be back stitches over padding. The background is worked in single corded Brussels stitches. 'tump raised work' is picked out in lime green cotton thread in back stitches, with rows of single corded Brussels stitches, single Brussels stitches, double Brussels stitches, buttonhole stitches, and a variation on a diagonal stitch. The 'T' for 'Tambour chain' is worked on blue silk with blue, red, and orange silk and cotton threads in chain stitches. 'ambour chain' is picked out in dark green cotton, worked in back stitches to create small squares. Above and below are chain, cable chain, and detached chain stitches in white cotton thread.

On the reverse are the letters U to Z. The 'U' for 'Underside couching' is made of couched and underside couched beige and lilac cotton threads. 'nderside couching' is made of green cotton threads in back stitched small squares. Zigzags are worked above and a row of couched cotton threads are positioned underneath. The 'V' for 'Void/Venetian' is made of green and blue wool threads in a series of running stitches on an unbleached linen ground. The 'V' is voided. 'oid enetian' is made of purple cotton back stitches and there are two cream rectangles of trellis and burden stitch made of white cotton thread.

The 'W' for 'Whitework' is made of padded satin stitches in white cotton thread on white linen. 'hitework' are stitched in blue cotton in back stitches, and there are two rows of satin stitch in white cotton thread. 'X' for 'cross stitch' is made of rust and orange cross stitches in silk and cotton threads. 'cross stitch' is made of orange cotton threads in back stitch and cross stitched X's of varying sizes and styles are made of white cotton thread.

The 'Y' for 'Yet more stitches' is worked in chain and stem stitches in blue wool thread. It is bordered by back stitches in darker blue wool thread. 'et more stitches' is made of green cotton in back stitches, creating tiny squares. Feather and fishbone stitches in white cotton dot the empty spaces. The 'Z' in 'still stitching' is made of gilded leather which has been appliquéd. 'still stitching' is worked in cross and back stitches in red cotton thread. The remaining space is decorated with honeycomb filling, honeycomb darning, buttonhole, cable chain, stem, four sided, leaf, running, and single Brussels stitches in white cotton thread.

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