Embroidery Techniques Explained

Jacobean Crewelwork

This is worked in crewel wool on linen using a variety of stitches.  The design is a traditional one based on the tree of life.  It introduces elements of design, stitch selection, colour choice and shading and accuracy.


Canvas Stitches

This is a counted technique, which focuses on colour, texture and scale.


Silk Shading – Botanical and Animal/Bird

This technique, which is also known as “painting with a needle” is worked with Long and Short Stitch (natural shading).  The emphasis is on understanding and replicating colour, light and shade and stitch direction to create a realistic image.  You will stitch a flower, fruit or vegetable for the Botanical module in year one.  Building on your skills in year two, you will choose an animal, bird, fish or reptile.


Tapestry Shaded Figure

Continuing to build on the skills learnt in the previous silk shading modules, you will stitch a human figure.  In this technique, the Long and Short stitches are all parallel to each other, usually vertical (tapestry shading).



This is a traditional technique.  The emphasis is on precision in using a variety of goldwork threads.  This technique also introduces padding.



This is a monochrome technique.  In its modern form, as taught by the RSN, it uses manipulation of traditional counted patterns and a variety of thread weights to create a complete tonal range.



The focus with this technique is on applying a wide range of fabrics, different types of padding and using several edging techniques.


Canvas Shading

This uses Tent Stitch and crewel wool to create a naturalistic image.


Creative Box

This involves the construction of a fabric covered box with moving parts, drawers, lids, etc.  The box will also have stitched embellishment.



This is a form of three-dimensional embroidery (also known as raised work). The design includes a human figure.


Mixed Whitework

Pulled and Drawn are traditional techniques to create patterns based either on pulling the base threads together with different stitches or removing them completely; the spaces are then filled with stitches.

Richelieu and Broderie Anglaise are cutwork techniques where either the cut area creates the pattern or the background.


Fine Whitework

This is a combination of whitework techniques from very dense to very open areas.  It draws on the skills previously learnt and adds in net darning.


Creative Metal

This allows Goldwork techniques to be used in experimental ways, using a variety of metallic threads.