Join the Blackheath Embroiderers Guild and local families from the Quaggy Children’s Centre in the Queen’s House to help us celebrate the National Day of Stitch.
The National Day of Stitch is an annual event that encourages everyone to try their hand at stitching. We will be taking inspiration from the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I on display in the Queen’s Presence Chamber. No experience is required, and the activities are suitable for seven years and older. All materials will be provided.
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw a flourishing of the art of embroidery particularly in England. Towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603), the taste for rich clothing and domestic decorations, such as bed covers and hangings, became popular and more people could afford to buy or make luxury items during these relatively peaceful and prosperous years.
Embroidery is often thought of as a female pastime, but during the Elizabethan period it was produced by men and women, children and adults, paid professionals and talented amateurs. Some of the most popular designs were plants, animals and birds. Portraits of royal and other wealthy people show entire garments covered in decorative stitching. These could be extremely luxurious, with the stitches using gold thread, pearls, and precious stones that created scrolling or geometric patterns, sometimes including flowers, fruits and other motifs that might have personal or symbolic meaning.