N, Net Embroidery

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


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

Content description

This is a four-sided book consisting of net embroidery and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'N'. The first page, on the left, features a blue ground fabric covered in white net which has been embroidered to show a nautilus shell. It is worked in 15 different patterns radiating out from the centre of the shell to provide a sense of depth and texture. These patterns are worked in running stitches, cross stitches, honeycomb darning stitches, diamond eyelets, and a variety of freestyle stitches. The second page features a black ground with black net. The majority of the page is taken up with a large 'N', with a small snowflake next to the 'N'. On the far left side is a band of white linen which includes a number of stem-shaped and snowflake motifs on black and white net. The 'N' is worked in white silk and cotton threads in cross stitch, buttonhole wheel, honeycomb darning, diamond eyelet, wave stitch filling, zigzag, couching, and open fishbone stitches. The snowflake is worked in silver thread in what appears to be a freestyle stitch with a border of a variation on festoon filling stitch. The motifs on the left side involve diamond eyelets, running stitches, straight stitches, and back stitches in black wool thread.

The third page depicts night creatures, with a vignette of an owl, a mouse, a fox, and a badger at the edge of a forest. It is worked over two layers of netting, with the background, bear, mouse, and badger worked over a black net and covered with a finer white net, into which the owl is worked. The mouse's body is felt and its ears, nose, tail, and feet straight stitches. The owl has been worked in white and grey silk in buttonhole, straight, and satin stitches. The booklet's last page features nasturtiums in peach and white, worked on white and peach-coloured netting on a blue ground. One of the flowers is appliquéd peach-coloured silk adorned with satin and stem stitches. The other flowers are outlines worked in honeycomb darning, chain stitches, cross, straight, and various other whitework stitches. The peach and white flowers are separated by geometric motifs. In the top right corner is a diamond design with a flower in its middle.

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