NDS Embroidered stories Exhibition & Event

Embroidered stories, NDS@ECA

| 10 - 5

Edinburgh College of Art, EH3 9DF


Embroidered Stories Exhibition at Edinburgh College of Art, EH3 9DF,

10am - 5pm from Monday  11th until Sunday the 17th of Dec.  

Events and related activities in stitch and conservation takes place on Friday the 15th from 10am - 12pm and from 2pm - 5pm: Tea and Coffee will be provided followed by wine


The University of Edinburgh’s Needlework Development Collection (NDS) is a unique group of 17-20th century textiles gifted to ECA in 1961.   Collected by J&P Coats, Paisley yarn manufacturers in the early 20th century, this historic teaching aid was intended to incite interest in needlework and improve design standards; a legacy that is still relevant today.  Having been in the care of ECA for almost 60 years, the embroideries were in need of specialist conservation methods to enable continued safe handling as an accessible collection for the 21st century and beyond.  This was the driving force behind the project exhibited here.

EMBROIDERED STORIES will be the main feature in the exhibition.

Funded by Heritage Lottery, community outreach activities partners over the past 6 months were: -

Forrester High School, Edinburgh

The Welcoming

The Scottish Prison Service


The Embroiderers Guild

The thistle quilters

The YTG (young embroiders guild)

All activities have centered around the historic collection itself in the belief that the value of handling collections as a mechanism for outreach, enticing learning and teaching through precious heritage, engenders an understanding and thirst to preserve craft skills and protect the collection. 

¨Archive visits

¨Conservation and re-housing workshops

¨Research study workshops in stitch analysis

These activities were complimented with: -

¨Practical stitch session workshops

¨Designing and making personal stitched stories

The creative workshops enticed participants to explore embroidery as an artistic medium and record their own stories in stitch.  The NDS samples were used for technical reference and as central discussion points to influence technique and materials.

EVENT Friday 15th

For insurance purposes, we are unable to display the historic pieces themselves within this exhibition.  We are holding a special event to allow the public direct access to the pieces.  Magnifying glasses will be on hand to study the pieces in detail.  Staff and volunteers will guide participants to help better understand the items.  Hands on activities will include stitching and exploring our newly launched website which shows the full ECA embroidery collection, a guide to embroidery techniques linked back to the archive itself, and sections on projects associated with the collection, plus NDS publications.  Teas and coffees will be provided throughout the event.