All in the Details: The Royal School of Needlework

All in the Details: The Royal School of Needlework

When we think of embroidery, there is commonly two sides of the scale. There are custom made patches, and then handcrafted, hand created patches.

Custom patches are generally low on the scale in the world of embroidery. Mass-produced, machine-made, and affordable, however, the real attention to detail and quality is found in embroidery produced by hand, such as the work done by the Royal School of Needlework.

The school is the official embroidery authority for the British monarchy, and the best part is that it is located in an actual English palace. The school has been and continues to be a place where exclusive hand embroidery thrives in an era of machine-produced designs.

Embroidery has been produced by hand for thousands of years, and only the very wealthy and royalty could afford the time-intensive products of needle artisans. Things changed in the mid-1800s with the invention of the first embroidery machines. These machines were hand-operated, offering quicker, repeatable production of embroidered goods.

Power-operated equipment again changed the game, increasing the availability of embroidery, making products such as custom-made patches much more affordable, and therefore attainable. Many feared that the artistry of hand embroidery was being lost.

However, aristocrat Lady Victoria Welby founded the School of Art Needlework in London in 1872, providing training for women in the trade. Three years later, Princess Helena, Queen Victoria’s third daughter, became the founding president; adding the royal element. The school eventually dropped “Art” from the formal name, evolving into the Royal School of Needlework. The institution has a long history of producing remarkably beautiful embroidered works, creating pieces for coronations, royal weddings, and other events.

The school still offers embroidery education, including a bachelor of arts in hand embroidery, while also well known for everything from restorations and commemorative works, as well as conservations and more.

The Royal School of Needlework shares the tradition of unrivaled quality embroidery which has been passed down through the centuries.

Find out more about the Royal School of Needlework here: www.royal-needlework.org.uk.