J, Jacobean/Crewel

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating Jacobean crewelwork and motifs starting with the letter 'J'. 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 Jacobean crewelwork stitches and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'J'. The first page, on the left, has a jay bird and a sprig of jasmine. The jay is worked on a grey linen and the jasmine on a light green silk-linen mix. The jay is stitched in brown, black, white, and blue wool threads in a variety of stitches, including laid work, trellis, French knots, stem stitch, padded satin, satin stitch, split stitch, buttonhole stitch, closed fly stitch, fishbone stitch, raised stem band, brick stitch, chain stitch, Portuguese knotted stem, woven wheel, woven bars, wrapped bars, and a variation on split stitch. The jasmine flower is made of light pink and green cotton threads, with the leaves in padded satin stitch, woven picots, fishbone stitch, closed and open fly stitch, Van Dyke stitch, herringbone stitch, Cretan stitch, with stem stitch for the stems. The flowers are stitched in padded satin stitch, trellis stitch, chain stitch, raised stem band stitch, buttonhole stitch, closed and open Cretan stitch, and several needlelace patterns. The second page has the letter 'J' in orange, brown, and blue wool threads on a grey-green silk sateen. The stitches include laid work, trellis, fishbone, herringbone, chain, stem, Portuguese knotted stem, French knots, straight, raised stem band, brick, woven wheel, closed fly, Cretan, and buttonhole.

The outer two pages feature a grey-green silk fabric with a printed design of gold rinceaux (coiling stems), leaves, and flowers. These rinceaux designs were popular in embroidery for the body and home in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Many of the fabric's printed rinceaux have been embroidered upon, with gold silk threads for the stems and polychrome silk and cotton for the flowers and leaves. Stitches for these pages include long and short shading, stem, open and closed buttonhole, chain, open chain, fly, closed fly, seeding, feather, trellis with various filling patterns, satin, wheatear, French knots, couching, whipped wheels, woven wheels, cross, raised stem bands, woven bars, woven picots, herringbone, Van Dyke, leaf, and coral. Each stem is worked in a different stitch.

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: 60cm
height: 23cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework