The Royal School of Needlework was founded in 1872 with a mission to preserve the art of hand embroidery.
To mark its 150th anniversary the RSN is launching the RSN Stitch Bank to continue this mission. The RSN Stitch Bank aims to digitally conserve and showcase the wide variety of the world’s embroidery stitches and the ways in which they have been used in different cultures and times.
Launching with an initial 150 stitches, the RSN Stitch Bank is an ongoing project. More stitches will be added regularly and the RSN will be working with partners around the world to include stitches from different traditions.
Preserving Stitches for the Future
Every year we lose historic textiles through wear, age, and the more aggressive routes of war, neglect and destruction.
We know that 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.
Stitchers can use the RSN Stitch Bank 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.