C, Cutwork

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating cutwork and motifs starting with the letter 'C'. 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 mostly in cutwork and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'C'. The first page, on the left, has a tabby cat, front and back facing, worked in buttonhole stitches with brown cotton thread on a light brown cotton ground. Where the portions of the cat have been cut away there is brown suede. The opposite page, made of green silk, has three appliquéd cyclamen leaves worked on fine cotton. All have borders of buttonhole stitches and veins buttonhole bars, and the top leaf has small picots at its centre. The central motif is a monogrammed 'C' in buttonhole stitch with large eyelets and three woven webs. Like the leaves, it is made of white cotton with white cotton threads. In the right-hand corner is a caterpillar on a leaf worked in cotton thread on a green spotted cotton background with a central panel of netting. All of its borders are worked in buttonhole stitches.

The third page depicts coral in various cutwork techniques and stitches, including stem, eyelets, detached buttonhole bars, and single Brussels stitch infills. The ground is beige synthetic fabric which when cut away reveals a tan-coloured silk. All of the embroidery has been worked in cream-coloured cotton thread.

The final page has a cone, crab, and cockerel on a gold silk and a red linen ground. All motifs are worked in buttonhole stitch in a variety of cotton and wool threads. The cone is embroidered in flecked wool on a brown cotton ground. The crab is worked in pink cotton threads and has a pink synthetic padded body. It sits on a web of dark green cotton threads worked in buttonhole stitches and picots. The cockerel is worked in buttonhole stitches in red cotton threads and has a body of red linen and red and gold brocade. It has a buttonhole wheel eye.

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