The Beautiful Stitch:Textile Treasures of the Embroiderers' Guild

The Beautiful Stitch

The Embroiderers’ Guild was formed in 1906 with the aim of raising technical and design standards in British embroidery. It did this by collecting examples of old and foreign stitch work which Guild members could use to inspire and inform their own practice.

Today the Guild’s collection numbers nearly ten thousand items - ranging from small stitched fragments to large hangings – and is considered a nationally important collection of world costume and textiles.

In 2016, the Embroiderers’ Guild moved its collection to Bucks County Museum on long-term loan. Since then, Museum staff and volunteers have been busy behind the scenes preparing the collection so that it may be made fully accessible for the public to enjoy: through exhibitions, an online database, stores tours and more.

Headwear from AfghanistanThe inaugural exhibition of our unique and inspiring collection has formed the basis of this major exhibition at Bucks County Museum and is on from 1st July until 28 October 2017. The exhibition will focus on the diverse and ever-changing nature of embroidery across time and place, and will include some of the finest pieces from the Guild’s stunning collections of historical and contemporary embroidery: from Chinese shoes to American Indian gloves, from 18th century whitework to 21st century artwork, and from miniature stitches to the World’s Longest Embroidery. The exhibition has 6 themes – Embroidery as Art; Embroidery as Education; Embroidery as Identity; Embroidery as Status/Ceremony; Embroidery as Industry and Embroidery as Fashion. Each theme has it’s own separate area in the exhibition space and is introduced by a fact panel.

Whether or not you are a ‘stitcher’, it is hoped that this exhibition fulfills a founding ethos of the Embroiderers’ Guild - that its collection may be used to inspire and inform.

Bucks County Museum Trust - Muir Trust Artist in Residence 2017

James Fox - Textile Artist - Residency from 21st September - 21st October 2017, Exhibition: 4th November - 2nd December 2017

Bucks County Museum is delighted to welcome talented textile artist James Fox as the 11th Muir Trust Artist in Residence this autumn.

James FoxJames works mostly with machine embroidery and the process of reverse applique to create hangings of various sizes. His work looks at modern life and politics and conveys ideas and questions about our expectations regarding gender roles, work, culture and other aspects of our social and personal lives. He exhibits widely and has recently had an exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester and a residency at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston.

For this residency James will be selecting items from the County Museum collections and responding to them to create new readings and interpretations. He is fascinated by political protest and crime and punishment but also by craftsmanship and groups on the fringes of social history such as the lace and straw plait industries. His residency complements The Beautiful Stitch exhibition of textile treasures from the Embroiderers’ Guild also on show at the museum.

James will set up his studio at the museum in Aylesbury during the period 21 September to 21 October 2017. Visitors are welcome to his Open Studio sessions on Fridays and Saturdays to watch the residency progress.

Image below is "Non-Uniform Day" by James Fox - reverse applique with embroidery

Non-Uniform Day

James will also be holding a day-long workshop – Handbags and Gladrags - for adults on Saturday 14 October (10.30-3.00pm) which is suitable for all levels of stitching ability. Participants will get the opportunity to create a unique piece of textile art (with the added bonus of a practical bag for life) by combining inspirations from the museum displays, the textile art of James Fox and their own personal creativity. (£30 per person including materials).

An experienced speaker to Embroiderers’ Guild groups around his home town of Lancaster, James will be giving a talk about his career, inspirations and the challenges and opportunities of this residency on Friday 3 November at 11.00am. (£5 per person).

A selling show of James’ work will open on Saturday 4 November and run until 2 December.
Further details are available on the museum website

Times: Exhibition open during normal museum hours – Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm (see website for further details:

Other Information: Free entry to exhibition and open studios; wheelchair access and disabled toilets available; café and shop on site; see museum website for details about programme of events, activities and talks.

Talks and Workshops at Bucks County Museum during The Beautiful Stitch: Textile Treasures from the Embroiderers' Guild Collection

The Historical Development of Chain Stitch Embroidery to Tambour Beading – Date – 30 September 7pm, Bucks County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury HP20 2QP

Tickets - admission £4 on the door

This talk by bead couturiers Lesley Coidan & Diana Vernon explores the luxury fashion technique of tambour beading - an embroidery technique used to embellish and enliven garments. Lesley and Diana together run Couture Beading & Embellishment Company, They specialise in a variety of couture embellishment techniques, but primarily tambour beading and embroidery for film, theatre and the couture. They each have over 45 years experience of designing, making and teaching, and are the authors of the book ‘The Art of Tambour Beading & Embroidery’ being published by The Guild of Master Craftsman later this year.

In 1770 Charles Germain de Saint Aubin, embroiderer to Louis XV the King of France, wrote about a new technique that used a hook instead of a needle to work embroidery. This technique was tambour. In fact the technique was much older, and is thought to have originated first from China or India. This same technique is still used today, and you will have seen many examples of it in theatre, film and couture work, and especially the Royal Wedding and Court dresses. It is the professional couture method for embroidering with beads and sequins.

This illustrated talk and demonstration will give you an introduction to the techniques of couture tambour embroidery with beads, pearls and sequins, and the historical development of the technique through to its contemporary use today.

Introduction to Tambour Beading and Embroidery - Date – 1 October all day from 10.00am til 4pm, Bucks County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury HP20 2QP
Cost - £50 plus up to £5 for materials, Tickets - Book by telephone on 01296 331441 or from the museum reception desk.

Course content:

This whole day course will give you an introduction to the essentials of the technique of couture tambour beading and embroidery. Enrolment £50 - please telephone 01296 331441 to register. Workshop students do not have to bring anything but there will be a small charge of up to £5 for beads and sequins on the day. The Workshop tutors will lend frames and tambour hooks but students can purchase these if they wish to at the end of the class.

You will learn:

• How to correctly mount fabric into an embroidery frame (slate frame) prior to tambouring.
• How to work the tambour stitch using thread, and how to work the stitch in all directions.
• How to prepare beads ready for tambour.
• How to tambour beads and sequins.

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