Royal School of Needlework Online Courses

This unparalleled British school of textiles and embroidery has expanded into long-awaited distance learning… [by Dorothea Moore]


In partnership with SewandSo, the Royal School of Needlework now offers 3 new online courses:-

Taught by RSN expert tutors – Deborah Wilding, Helen McCook and Becky Hogg – the courses feature video instruction, both step-by-step written and photographic guides, along with the opportunity to interact with fellow students to problem solve and share ideas.

Course fees include a specific kit of materials to enable students to follow the lessons precisely and create the course embroidery at home.


A more contemporary style of goldwork.  The modern technique can also feature plastic sequin waste to give added interest.

This traditional technique uses a regular base thread to hold metallic threads onto a fabric’s surface.  By including a variety of metallic thread textures and thicknesses, you can create an inspiring finished piece.

Goldwork is the oldest of the 3 embroidery styles.  Developed in Asia over 2,000 years ago, it has been highly-prized for the light it attracts,, bouncing off and playing on its needlework designs.  In the Middle Ages, an ecclesiastical style known as ‘Opus Anglicanum’ was used in ritual vestments and iconographical wall hangings.


Jacobean Crewelwork is a course featuring many different stitches, and as such is the best course to study first.  It will give you the best grounding necessary to succeed in the RSN’s other online learning provision.

Crewelwork is a type of free embroidery (as opposed to counted cross stitch) and is at least 1,000 years old.  This needlework is highly-stylised and often features botannical subject matter such as vines and leaves.  The free stitching is used to fill in boldly-demarcated pictorial outlines on a tightly-woven fabric (silk, organza, jute, linen twill).


Blackwork was first developed over the 15th – 17th Centuries, and is sometimes called ‘Spanish Blackwork’.  It featured a mixture of stitches usually in black thread, but 3 main practices essentially evolved:  counted thread work on even-weave fabrics in lacy designs; curvilinear blackwork; and shaded blackwork.  Contemporary paintings reveal that this type of needlework was used on shirts and smocks around the time of Henry VIII, and it is believed the Spanish connection came via Catherine of Aragon importing blackwork garments from her native country.  It is mentioned in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’, in the description of the Miller’s wife.


Visit to register and apply.  Further courses will launch throughout this year.  All course fees will have postage costs for embroidery kits added.  For prospective students interested in studying in a non-virtual learning environment, RSN provide standard classes at its headquarters (Hampton Court Palace).


The Royal School of Needlework began in the 19th Century and was first named ‘School of Art Needlework’ by Lady Victoria Welby.  The school’s first president was Queen Victoria’s 3rd daughter – ‘Princess Helena’ aka Princess Christian of Schleswig- Holstein.  The RSN was granted royal patronage in 1875, becoming the ‘Royal School of Art Needlework’.  It dropped ‘art’ from the title in 1922.





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