L, Laid

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


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

Content description

This is a four-sided book using primarily laid work and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'L'. The first page, on the left, shows a lizard worked in green and yellow silk threads on a synthetic grey brocade ground. Its entire body is worked in various shades of green laid work with chain and stem stitch separating the different areas. Its head is worked in back stitches and its eye is made of couching. Its upper body is decorated with fly stitches. The opposite page, which is light green silk, includes a silk and cotton thread lily with three pink laid work flowers on a couched stitch stem. Beside the lily is the letter 'L' with brightly coloured sections of laid work couched with stripes or lattice designs. Scrolls of back-stitched chain in green form the top and bottom of the letter with a twisted silver thread couched as an edging. The 'L' sits on a green-blue linen ground that is bordered by two lines of a couched green ribbon and silver cord.

The back two pages consist of blue slub silk decorated with 17 laid work leaves in wool and cotton threads. The leaves include maple, beach, lily, and alchemilla mollis. The various outlines are worked in stem stitch, couching, coral stitch, chain stitch, back-stitched chain, and threaded back stitch. All except for one have either a lattice or double lattice worked with a combination of cross bar filling, detached chain links, and French knots. One leaf has battlement couching worked in wool. Another is solid, its body made of pink wool threads couched down with purple ones.

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