Q, Quilting

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating quilting and motifs starting with the letter 'Q'. 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 quilting and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'Q'. The first page, on the left, has a green polyester ground with an appliquéd section in blue polyester mesh. On the mesh side is a depiction of quaking grass worked in mauve silk thread back stitches. The leaves have been filled in with stitches on a layer below the mesh. The other side of the cover features a trapunto entwined root or branch motif worked in green cotton thread back stitches and white French knots in white cotton thread. Below the roots are cherries or other berries outlined in back stitch in red silk thread and padded. Beside the berries are three appliquéd leaves of leather and mesh, as well as five flower motifs in white cotton. The detail of the leaves and flowers are worked in back stitches and French knots. The opposite page features a quilted capital 'Q' made of mauve silk back stitches on a tan silk ground.

The third page uses a beige polyester ground, upon which are appliquéd five additional pieces of fabric. At the bottom corner are concentric arcs, the bottommost of which is quilted to resemble trapunto or cording. The largest appliqué piece is a semi-translucent white polyester mesh slip stitched onto the ground to show several shadow work motifs. The topmost again resembles trapunto quilting, and follows a knot motif framed by white backstitches, but the cording embroidered in blue thread is visible beneath. Below the knot is an embroidered bow also in shadow work, framed in blue back stitch over closed herringbone stitch in blue thread with long and short stitch in silver metallic thread beneath the white gauze. Below the ribbon are stitched two hearts, one in blue silk thread back stitch over an appliquéd blue ground and the other with a corded border framed in light blue cotton thread back stitch. There are four other appliqué motifs. One is padded oval in yellow polyester with a back stitched flower with a centre composed of French knots. Another is a peach felt heart with padding beneath defined by three layers of back stitching along the contours of the heart. The third and fourth are both circular with three-dimensional quilting or trapunto. One is pink false leather with a back stitched cursive 'Q' at its centre, surrounded by a circle of raised interlaced cords also framed in back stitch. The other is tan with a pattern of straight and diagonal overlaid checks interrupted by vertical and horizontal bars of raised padding, all worked in back stitch.

The final page involves cream-coloured polyester laid on the bias, with quilting in cream and brown cotton and silk thread. The quilting involves back stitches and stem stitches. Much of the stitching is in a diagonal grid forming regular checks which are interrupted by shell or shell-like motifs, scrolls, knots, braids, and a banner.

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: 23.5cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework