S, Stumpwork (Raised)

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating stumpwork and motifs starting with the letter 'S'. 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 stumpwork, also called raised work, and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'S'. The first page, on the left, has a scene with sheep, a stone wall, and a farmhouse with a stone wall perimeter. The hillocks are in a variety of taupe and grey fabrics that are lightly padded. The stone wall is a slip covered with one piece of mesh with a variety of shaped vilene behind it to create the stones. Stranded cotton is used to create mud and moss between the stones in French knots, raised stem band stitches, and straight stitches. The sheep on the left are made of suede appliquéd down with bullion knots for the legs. The sheep in the top middle is a padded slip covered in single Brussels needlelace, with a leather face and a woven picot for the ear and French knots on top of the head. The legs are raised stem band and satin stitch for the hooves. The bottom middle sheep is a slip made of French knots, with a suede face and woven picots for the ears, a raised stem band for the legs, and satin stitch for the hooves. The sheep on the right is a padded slip covered in long and short stitch, French knots on top of the head, a woven picot for the ear, raised stem band for the legs, and satin stitch for the hooves. The farmhouse and stone wall perimeter are stitched in single corded Brussels needlelace with raised stem band used for roof and doors of the house, and straight stitches for the windows and window frames. This page is worked in wool, cotton, and silk threads.

The right-hand page is made of blue linen with a large stumpwork 'S' in the middle, decorated with snails, a spider and a spider web, sweet violet, snowdrops, speedwell, scarlet pimpernel, and strawberries. The 'S' motif is stitched with tent stitches and Algerian eye stitches which are outlined in condensed cashmere stitches. The snail's bodies and shells are stitched with raised stem band, with bullion knots for the feelers and French knots on the ends. The sweet violet has raised work leaves made of single Brussels stitches and two flowers made of raised stem band and detached woven picots. The other motifs involve satin, raised stem band, padded satin, stem, detached woven picots, and brick stitches.

The third page has seaweed, shells, and a seahorse on a coarse linen background. Two of the the seaweeds are appliquéd leather, one textured, one smooth. Three leaves are created using green net gathered beneath a couched wire in green. A further wrapped stem is arranged with padded air sacks covered in a slip of French knots. There is a small area of needlelace single Brussels stitch forming a leaf. The right-hand shell is worked in whipped wheel. Amongst the weeds is a cream shell with a buttonhole edging filled with laid work and single Brussels needlelace over padding. One spiral shell is worked in different shades of chain stitch, while the other is worked in Elizabethan whipped cording stitch. The seahorse is worked in raised stem band with its chest in whipped chording stitch. The spines along his back are picots.

The last page features a farm scene on a navy blue linen ground. At the centre is a scarecrow in a field, surrounded by vegetables. The scarecrow's body is padded with straw for the body, leg, arms, and face. The trousers are made of needlelace in Ceylon stitch, the jumper is wool in a raised stem band, and the hat is knitted in wool. The stake is made of pieces of wood couched over in wool. The eyes are French knots, the mouth is a bullion knot, the pipe is detached woven picot, and the scarf is an unidentified stitch and both are stitched in perle thread. The scarecrow is on a field with straight stitches for the shoots and bullion knots for the birds. The cauliflower is made of French knots and stem stitch for the outside leaves. The lettuce is made of padded slips with stem stitch and back stitch for the veins. The apple is a padded leather slip and satin stitch in perle for the leaf. The pea pod is needlelace in single corded Brussels stitch and the peas are wooden beads covered in a sheer mesh. The potato is padded with French knots and detached chain stitches in perle for the eyes. The onions are padded with a back stitch to show the layers. The mushrooms are needlelace in single corded Brussels, raised stem band for the stems, and a form of whipped wheel to form the inside of the mushrooms. The cabbage is made of woollen slips edged with buttonhole stitch and a wooden bead covered in wool needlelace. The carrot is a padded raised stem band with satin stitch for the stalks. The left green bean is a raised stem band and the two other green beans are a padded turned under shape with satin stitch details.

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