M, Mountmellick

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating Mountmellick embroidery and motifs starting with the letter 'M'. 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 Mountmellick embroidery and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'M'. The first page, on the left, shows a marguerite daisy, a marigold, a moth, a mouse, and a mushroom worked in white cotton and silk threads on off-white textured linen. The marguerite's petals are worked in satin stitch with French knots creating the centre of the flower. The stem is in chain stitch. The marigold petals are worked in herringbone and fishbone stitch. The leaves are fishbone stitch with stem stitch veins and the stalk is stem stitch. The moth has a padded body overworked with brick stitch and the wings are outlined in buttonhole stitch. Infilling of the bottom wings is worked in feather stitch and the top of the wings resemble a woven pattern, possibly using a couching technique. The bar in the centre of the wing is worked in fishbone stitch. The top wings have infill of French knots, chain stitch, loop stitch, fly stitch, and a trellis with French knots. The antennae resemble cable chain stitch. The mouse in worked in stem stitch filling with buttonhole ears and tail. The mushroom has a buttonhole top with a stem stitched interior and stem with buttonhole and satin stitch accents.

The opposite page features a large gothic 'M' and an elaborate mulberry plant. The ground is white cotton and the thread is white cotton and silk. The 'M' is outlined in a padded buttonhole stitch and filled with satin, trellis, cable chain, open feather, pearl, coral, chain, and buttonhole stitches, along with French and bullion knots. The mulberry leaf is worked in closed fishbone with French knots and a chain stitched stem.

The third page has nine maple leaves, four small seed pods, and a leaf and flower motif in the centre. The page is white linen, while the thread is white silk. The maple leaves are outlined in coral and cable chain stitch and accented with French knots. The seeds are worked in buttonhole wheels and whipped wheels with a stem stitched stem, and the centre motif is outlined in trailing with buttonhole flowers and satin stitched berries.

The final page shows three magpies and a rhyme all worked in white cotton, wool and silk threads on an unbleached linen background. The rhyme reads 'one for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a wedding', worked in French knots. The top magpie's wings are worked in feather stitch and buttonhole stitch, while its tail is worked in fishbone stitch. The legs, feet, and beak are satin stitch, the head and breast stem stitch. The body is worked in chain stitch. The central magpie is worked as the first one, but with the feather stitch on its wings replaced by fishbone stitch. The bottom magpie is worked in the same stitches as above.

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