F, Florentine

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating Florentine embroidery and motifs starting with the letter 'F'. 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 Florentine embroidery and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'F'. The entirety of this booklet is worked using Florentine stitches. The first page, on the left, shows a frog worked in green and brown wool threads on a neutral linen ground. The second page shows a purple cotton 'F' surrounded by green and yellow cotton and wool threads. The zigzagging, almost psychedelic designs come courtesy of Florentine stitches going in multiple directions.

The third page is a sample of different patterns made out of Florentine stitches, all worked in wool threads. Some of the patterns, which are both floral and geometric, are made out of brick stitches. The final page shows a carnation made out of cotton and wool threads on a red and blue background of Florentine designs, including zigzags and scallops. The Florentine embroidery practiced in this booklet also goes by a number of different names, including Irish stitch, flame stitch, and bargello.

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