D, Drawn Thread

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating drawn thread work and motifs starting with the letter 'D'. 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 drawn thread work and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'D'. The first page, on the left, contains three dragons on a grey synthetic ground. The leftmost is woven bars on a sparkly blue faggot stitch over an iridescent green base fabric. The upper right dragon is worked in yellow and brown threads cotton and metallic threads. The eye is rendered as a square eyelet in red metallic thread and the tongue is woven bars in the same red thread. It is outlined in gold woven bars. A segment of the ground fabric has been worked in single faggot stitch and the iridescent green fabric is visible underneath. The lower right dragon is in shades of red cotton thread, worked in woven bars on a ground that has been pulled into cords wrapped in greed thread.

The second page includes four separate motifs with dragons featured on them. The top left is rendered in purple and blues threads, which have been wrapped around a sparkling synthetic latticework fabric. A small 'D' has been depicted using gold thread woven bars surrounded by red needleweaving. The second page includes a large dragon, worked on top of the same shiny synthetic green background of the previous page. Its body is entirely outlined in a series of overcast hem stitches, while its eye is a square eyelet. The original red linen ground is present in the dragon's body. The clouds, the dragon's tongue, and its two wings are worked in woven bars. The third dragon, in the top right corner, is made out of blue and purple cotton threads on a red and purple drawn work ground. The dragon is worked in woven bars, as has the left side of the panel. The background behind the dragon features a grid that has been wrapped in threads on all sides. On the right are a series of buttonhole corners, creating a series of blue and purple X shapes against the red gridded ground.

On the third page is a single dragon worked in a series of red cotton chain and buttonhole stitches against a grey linen ground. The head is outlined in a double row of chain stitch, its eye is a small eyelet and a eyebrow looks like a bullion knot. There are two separate rows of drawn work on the neck -- one is a ladder hem stitch and the other is a double twist stitch. Two wings feature wrapped bars and have been outlined using buttonhole stitch. Inside the tail are four separate drawn borders and five pulled areas, which look like four sided stitch or perhaps framed cross filling, worked in diagonal rows. Double twist and ladder hem appear again, as does four-sided stitch. A border of satin stitch surrounds the motif and a number of hemmed borders surround this.

Inset between the third and fourth page is an additional mini page containing a dandelion clock on one side and wave motifs on the other. The centre of dandelion clock is worked in single faggot stitch and outlined in buttonhole stitch. Surrounding that centre is a variation of framed cross filling followed by a round of honeycomb filling. It is outlined in buttonhole stitch and the stem is a couched fluffy green cord. On the other side, wave motifs are filled with rows of green and orange knotted borders and outlined with a yellow buttonhole stitch. Along the edges are ladder hem stitches.

The final page contains another dandelion clock on white ground fabric with a green synthetic fabric showing through underneath. The dandelion stem and leaves are worked in a heavy chain stitch and woven bars, all in white cotton threads. The background consists of a white wrapped bars and bordered with satin stitches. The dandelion is filled with buttonhole corners. The central motif is surrounded by a series of four borders in light green fabric with a cream silk fabric showing through. The left borders feature a knotted border in different sizes with wrapped bars on the corners. The right has a double twist in different sizes and woven wheel corners. The top has two variations on a buttonhole stitch over pulled threads while the bottom has wrapped bars in two patterns. The outermost border features back-stitched chain stitches and stem stitches all around. Two small squares on the top and bottom left are worked in a square with four spokes of woven bars, surrounded by stem stitches.

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: 60.5cm
height: 23cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework