Royal Embroidery

Today while doing some research online, I stumbled across this video on CBS highlighting the Royal School of Needlework, an embroidery school in England. Long considered the epicenter of embroidery talent and historic restoration, the RSN is now located in the┬áHampton Court Palace, King Henry VIII favorite palace (of which he had 60!) As the video claims, apparently Henry VIII was quite the embroiderer himself, which isn’t surprising seeing as he had multiple pounds of gold embroidery encrusting nearly every outfit he wore in public. The RSN began in 1872 as a way to educate women and give them a trade they can make a living by. Throughout the years the school has become a national treasure, including creating coronation pieces for every royal family member since 1902.

The video above showcases many embroidery pieces that are breathtaking in their workmanship, and I was pleased to learn that the RSN also offers classes to pass on the art of embroidery to students of all levels. Now, if only I can figure out a way to make it to the UK and fund such a thing. And what does it take to be a skilled embroiderer of the RSN caliber? According to one RSN student and now professional historical embroidery restorer, patience and a strong back.

Nicole Smith is an author, editor, designer, and instructor who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Check out her latest book, Skirt-A-Day Sewing, out now at your local bookstore, or online.
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