A, Applique

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating appliqué and motifs starting with the letter 'A'. Part of a 34-part embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007.

Content description

This is a four-sided book worked in appliqué and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'A'. The first page, on the left, shows a collection of wild arum lily flowers using cotton and silk fabric. The unfurled bud in the top left corner is padded silk. The flower with leaves in the bottom left corner is cotton appliquéd using back stitch in contrasting cotton thread. The berries above this motif are silk and cotton padded with small French knots at the end of the berries. The central flower is appliqued using buttonhole stitch, with the spadix worked in French knots using cotton thread. The cream flower is a synthetic fabric outlined with a couched twisted thread. The centre of the flower is a contrasting plain weave linen material and the spadix is maroon silk. The pale green flower is padded silk appliqué. The right-most flower is worked in couched padded threads. The outer thread is green silk followed by couched gold passing thread. The seed box is cut gold check, with a piece of gold leather between it and the spadix which is created using small French knots. Behind the spadix is couched silk floss in green and beige, couched with a single maroon cotton thread in a trellis. The right hand side of the flower is metallic bronze purl. The inner right page has a large 'A', which is made of orange silk appliquéd to blue linen with couched orange cotton thread.

The other two pages are covered in ammonites. The left-hand page shows 11 ammonites in a variety of fabric including suede, cotton, silk, knitted metallic, and textured cotton. The suede ammonite on the top left is cut out using pinking shears. The large ammonite on the left is worked in different coloured silk material with three pieces in cutwork. The top area of cutwork is buttonhole stitch with net in the middle. The middle piece is overcast stitch with net in the middle and the bottom hole is net held in place with wrapped bars. The small cream ammonite is outlined in padded satin stitch in cream wool and has on its inside a series of straight stitches. Below it is an ammonite viewed from the side. It is a silk organza couched in buttonhole stitch. The metallic ammonite on the right hand side is outlined in stem stitch in wool. The small ammonite in the bottom right hand corner is couched silk thread. The final page shows five ammonites in felt, appliquéd onto a synthetic fabric. These ammonites are made of felt, metallic leather, and a knitted synthetic fabric appliquéd using running, whip, back, buttonhole, and split stitches, as well as couching.

This booklet 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: 61cm
height: 23cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework