Visiting the Exhibition

The Needlework Development Scheme was created in order to loan out textile pieces to the universities and inspire the students who would them become teachers which overall sold more thread.

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The initial signs you see when you walk into the exhibition. 

This was apart of the revival of the Arts and Crafts movement. In total 3,500 pieces were gifted as a teaching collection across Scotland’s four art schools.

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The main piece displaying at the beginning of the exhibition. The mixture of different kinds and thicknesses of threads was done with purpose, so that the blind and visually impaired can enjoy the exhibition through the sense of touch.

This piece here was created my both male and female prisoners, teachers, and volunteers.

The types of stitches used to create this piece include:

  • insertion stitches
  • raised satin stitch with backstitch underneath
  • button hole
  • button hole bars
  • button hole wheels

The contrasts between the silk and the satin was educationally made. Every stitch that makes up this piece was replicated accurately. In order to do this, the original piece (seen down below) was scanned in with the design screen printed to embroider over.


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The original embroidery piece that inspired the larger scale one. 

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A look at a piece Lindy created with different pieces of the fabric given by different women worldwide named Clare.



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3D scanning and 3D printing was a huge part of this project. This Chinese head dress was one of the first items to be scanned in.

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A male wedding smock-appears to be a lot of blanket stitch on the garment. It’s a shame this type of smock is no longer part of modern wedding traditions!

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Edinburgh College of Art began using the collection itself in 2011. It was set up to be a handling collection and a teaching collection to inspire embroiderers.


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The Chinese robe. The several flowers embroidered on this robe are filled with peking knot stitch, one of the most difficult embroidery stitches to do.

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The sleeve bands. So much intricate embroidery and detail.


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The handling samples for the Chinese robe.


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Further pieces which used 3D printing. Two types of 3D printing, additive and reductive were used in this process. Different threads and different 3D printing materials allow the blind to feel the difference in the story through the different textures.


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In addition, there has been another 350 pieces gifted by the Embroiderer’s Guild.


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The enlarged samples help the visitors to get a better idea of what kind of stitches were used. Especially since so many of the stitches on the actual pieces are so tiny and delicate.

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Embroidery fits into the three different movements of art, craft, and design. However, there is much argument to which division it falls in.

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A piece of what would be considered more functional, educational embroidery. I will be exploring this as well as the remaining piece I did not cover in this blog article in my next post. I truly love how bright and bold the colors were when creating this bag.


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Winsome’s birds. The more simple one would be the pattern a child starting to learn embroidery would use. The one with the wings and more intricate detailing would be for the more advanced child. The most fancy of the birds would be done by the overachiever who couldn’t get enough of embroidering. 


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A look at the toy wasp.


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Winsome Douglas has quite a few pieces in this exhibition. Her work is truly incredible, through the combination of different stitches and complementary colors.

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More of the enlarged handling samples. These were created by prisoners from Cornton Vale.


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Last but certainly not least, a toy sheep. Something I would have loved as a child (and even now!) The time and effort out into this is so apparent. 

So there is the exhibition! I did not cover publication and teaching part of the exhibition, as that will be included in my next post.

If you want to see the exhibition for yourself, it’s still on until February 29th. Open Monday to Saturday from 10am-5pm. The location is:

University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square

Or if you want to see the website for yourself, click here!

Happy Sunday everyone!

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