A Touch of Splendour

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Written by Fiona Wemyss

This coat came in to the collection 3 years ago.  It was found in a cupboard in the Castle by my Sister-in-Law Charlotte who lives there.  She felt that it ought to be in the collection at the Needlework School rather than hidden away in the Castle.  We are very grateful.  The coat is in wonderful condition and its rich gold and silk embroidery still very vibrant.  If silver is used in embroidery it, sadly, tarnishes and there is little one can do about it.  Gold, however, does not tarnish and as you can see in these images still retains its lustre and beauty.  I always like to imagine a room full of gentlemen wearing garments like this - it must have been a very splendid and dazzling sight!


As with other kits we have produced, the two kits pictured are inspired by part of the embroidery on the coat, but unlike the embroidery on the coat, which must have been stitched by a professional embroiderer, they are accessible to mortals like you and I.

As usual, we have used family names for the kits.  I felt that as the coat is for a man, we should have masculine names - Charles is my husband, Jamie our son.  (Our daughters are not left out - we have both a Molly and an Elizabeth kit, both large crewelwork designs which are being stitched as I write - without the finished pieces we cannot advertise the kits for sale as we don’t have an image of the finished piece for the packaging ….. yet).  There is a family tree on our website if anyone is interested.

Charles is the design worked in gold and silk on a silk ground.  The sample was started by Helen McCook in preparation for a goldwork with silk class we held, taught by her, using this design, it was finished by Louise Dawson who is as well as being the manageress and curator of the School is a very accomplished goldworker.  Louise finished the piece just before she left for her maternity leave and we were able to show it at the SECC in April.  We have orders for the kit but have as yet been unable to supply them as we do not have the expertise to write the instructions for the kit - we are hoping that Helen will help us with this in June. Though the stitches used are simple - the instructions must be written by someone who knows the technique backwards so a beginner does not get confused.

The crewelwork piece, Jamie, is similar though a slightly larger scale.  It uses fourteen different but basic embroidery stitches - at least that is our suggestion, we always say in our kits if you want to change stitches or colours do, MAKE IT YOUR OWN - how all these stitches are made is shown in the instruction booklet which comes with the kit and they are listed at the end of this blog.  This kit we have ready.  

We also are in the process of producing James, a larger piece which can be used as a cushion.  This James kit incorporates a border made up of the ‘acorn’ like figure in the centre and other parts of the design and uses the same stitches as Jamie.  When Helen taught the class it was the first time we offered students the choice of the small or large version.  Interestingly it was the large version which proved more popular despite the materials cost being higher. Our problem is that stitching the larger designs for the prototype takes many many hours …..watch this space, it will launch soon!

Stitches used in Jamie and James

  1. Bullion Knot
  2. Buttonhole Stitch
  3. Chain Stitch
  4. Couching
  5. French Knot
  6. Fly Stitch
  7. Lazy Daisy
  8. Long and Short Stitch
  9. Pistil Stitch
  10. Satin Stitch
  11. Seeding (Single and Double)
  12. Stem Stitch
  13. Trellis
  14. Whipped Back Stitch