The RSN Stitch Bank aims to digitally conserve and preserve every stitch in the world, becoming the biggest repository of stitch in the world.

Why is it needed?

Stitches from history have been lost because they fall out of use. Then, when an older embroidered piece is discovered, curators and museum staff cannot recognise the stitches. Textiles and the knowledge of stitches throughout the world continue to be threatened by wars and other disturbances, as well as changes in manufacturing processes.

The time has come to compile a world directory of stitch – the RSN Stitch Bank.

This project goes to the heart of the Royal School of Needlework’s core purpose. We were established in 1872 to keep the techniques of hand embroidery alive and, implicitly, all their stitches.

Who will use it?

The RSN Stitch Bank will be available online to all stitchers, tutors, curators, historians, researchers and students. Stitchers will be able to find a new stitch to use in a project and learn how to make it using videos, written instructions, illustrations and photographs for each stitch.

Researchers, curators, historians and students can use the site to learn about the use, structure and history of each stitch in a range of embroidery techniques and to identify a stitch on a textile.

RSN Tutors have already realised that they can populate their teaching kits with the content from the RSN Stitch Bank so that students working at home can check they are working the stitch correctly.

The project so far

Funding from a number of charitable trusts has helped a small team to set up the web infrastructure and begin to create text, illustrations, photographs and videos for an initial selection of core stitches, ensuring that the system can be expanded for all the different stitches in the world.

The team has also been developing the taxonomy of stitch (just like Linnaeus did for plants but without the Latin) and identifying pieces in our Collection which can highlight the use of each stitch.

What’s next?

Now we want to work towards launching the website in July 2021 with the first 500 stitches in place. We are starting with stitches familiar in Western embroidery but we will be accepting nominations for stitches from all our contacts worldwide.

From November 2019 we have been inviting other countries and cultures to come on board with their stitches and seeking third party funding from organisations like UNESCO to support this.

But first we need the funding for the first 500 stitches and this is where you can help by adopting a stitch.

How you can help

We need your urgent support to populate the RSN Stitch Bank with its first 500 core stitches by July 2021.

For each stitch we need to:

  • Film and edit a video demonstrating the making of the stitches.
  • Create step by step text, illustrations and photos of the stitch’s construction.
  • Research a short history of the stitch and its use.
  • Create an icon to help identify a stitch at a glance.
  • Classify the stitch according to the taxonomy we are developing for the project.
  • Select items from the RSN Collection which show this stitch in use and photograph the piece as a whole and of the stitch close up.


It costs between £135 and £228 for each stitch entry to be prepared. If you pay for a whole stitch your name will be added as a Stitch Sponsor, but you can make a donation of any amount.

Donate to RSN Stitch Bank

If you are a US taxpayer you can make a tax-deductable gift here.