Elizabethan Stitches – Jacqui Carey



One of our favourite needlework books at Hands Across the Sea Samplers is Elizabethan Stitches by Jacqui Carey. Mary Corbet did a wonderful in depth review of the book when it was released in 2012 and described it as one of the “You Definitely Need This” books, whether you’re a fan of historic English needlework or simply a surface embroiderer who is interested in all kinds of stitches and their applications!

Here is the link to her review.




Living in a remote part of Cornwall on England’s most southerly tip it is rare (rarer than hen’s teeth) for a course to be available and close by  that catches Nicola’s attention. She couldn’t believe it when she discovered that not only does Jacqui Carey live in the next County (still a five hour round trip) but she runs courses from her home.



Together with some friends Nicola will be attending a course in April on Elizabethan Stitches – she is beyond excited. There is so much that is to be learnt about these stunning stitches from the period.


VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W




Elizabethan Stitches

Jacqui Carey’s analysis of old textiles has revealed that ‘modern’ stitches are structurally different to the ones found on late 16th & early 17th century objects. Therefore the techniques used in this era were also different. During the workshop, Jacqui will share her extensive research work by discussing actual examples dating from this period (lots of lovely photographs, but sadly no actual artefacts).
Students will learn about the historical context of the embroidery, before trying their hand at some of the stitches, and starting work on their own ‘spot’ sampler.
For the historic embroiderer, this was a material ‘sketch book’ that allowed them to test and record ideas. Spot samplers were a visual storehouse of motifs, patterns, ideas, colour ways and stitch textures, and as such were a valued resource. Students who would prefer to work towards a finished product have the option of using their sample stitching as the start of a small item such as a purse or ‘sweet bag’.

The workshop will start with an illustrated talk that will set the historical scene. It will include a discussion of the detective work involved in gathering evidence, and the delights and challenges of doing object-based research. Students will then have the opportunity to explore historic design sources, and discover how the embroiderer transferred and interpreted them.
Practical work will cover the instruction for several period stitches. These will include some needlepoint, plaited braid stitches, and punto in aria (stitches in air). Students will make a large-scale sample in order to understand the construction of each stitch, before embarking on smaller scale production, as part of a design worked onto their spot sampler, or purse.