Stumpwork: Old and New

Rissa Peace Root   2002, 2007

Background Information

"Stumpwork embroidery is a raised form of embroidery created on one background and transferred to another, ground fabric, and is three-dimensional through the use of padding, beads, wire and/or needle lace stitches. "  - Jeanmarie Bruccia, from Jenny June's Fancy Work.  

I love raised embroidery and nothing is more dimensional than Stumpwork.  When I began this journey, I was struck by the very different designs that all fell under the umbrella of Stumpwork.  The term Stumpwork is a 19th Century invention that describes raised work and stuffed work.  In period, it was most often referred to as raised work, "embost" or even "brodees en relief". [1]  I had seen these marvelous embroideries on padded chests and wall hangings in museums and books and marveled at their soft sculpture design and heavy use of needle lace.  Then much later, I ran across Jane Nicholas' series of books and although Ms. Nicholas gives wonderful histories of the art form, I was most impressed by her adaptation of the traditional to something more modern. Then I read with great interest the debate on what really is and is not authentic on the Embroiderers Guild of America's (EGA) mailing list and among members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).  It would seem that there is a schism among the purists, but the end result is a greater awareness of raised embroidery and its design potential.

First, there is very traditional raised work and padded embroidery and needle-lace that is firmly rooted in the designs of 17th century England (reaching its peak in 1650.)  This is represented by authentic reproductions and newer renditions of traditional designs as seen in publications like that of Barbara and Roy Hirst.  Some people refer to this as English Stumpwork, even though Susan O'Connor, an Australian who publishes in Inspirations, would fall into this category.  The second is a more modern style typified by Jane Nicholas.   This is sometimes referred to as Australian Stumpwork.  Both types of Stumpwork are very dimensional designs, and they employ many of the same techniques for achieving this effect. 

Regardless of the style you select, there are ample resources to get you started on your journey!

On-line Resources:

Stumpwork information and examples:

Stumpwork designers and retail kits:

Free Stumpwork patterns:

Print Resources:

Stumpwork specific books and leaflets:

  • Ashby, Daphne & Woolsey, Jackie.  Stumpwork, Why Not?
  • Best, Muriel.  Stumpwork: Historical & Contemporary Raised Embroidery.  Hardcover.  136 Pages.  ISBN 0-71345-5721.
  • Dennis, Kay.  A Beginner's Guide to Stumpwork. Search Press.  Soft cover.  80 Pages. ISBN 0-85532-8703. 
  • Hinde, Annette .  Australian Wildflowers in Stumpwork. Soft cover.  104 pages.  
  • Hirst, Babarba.  Raised Embroidery: A Practical Guide to Decorative Stumpwork.  Merehurst.  Soft cover.  80 Pages.  ISBN 1-85391-2034
  • Holzberger, Loretta.  Needlelace & Stumpwork: Contemporary Designs & Techniques for Dimensional Embroidery.  Self Published.  100 Pages. ISBN 0-96794-5402.
  • Nicholas, Jane.  Stumpwork Dragonflies.  Milner.  Hardcover.  96 pages. ISBN: 1-86351-2624.
  • Nicholas, Jane. Stumpwork Embroidery: A Collection of Fruits Flowers and Insects for Contemporary Raised Embroidery.  Milner.  Hardcover.  216 pages. ISBN: 1-86351-1830.
  • Nicholas, Jane. Stumpwork Embroidery: Design and Projects.  Milner.  Hardcover.  160 pages. ISBN: 186351208X. 
  • Remmington, Preston.  English Domestic Needlework of the XVI, XVII, and XVIII Centuries.  Dated 1945. There is a nice historical article that precedes the dozens of black and white photos of the exhibit.  The author was the  Curator of Renaissance and Modern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Wislon, Erica.  The Craft of Silk and Gold Thread Embroidery and Stump Work.  Scribner's Sons.  Soft cover.  96 pages.  ISBN: 0-684-15067-0.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum.  Flowers in English Embroidery.  Curator notes and guide, with black and white photographs, for an exhibit. Printed 1947.

Stumpwork specific projects in magazines:

  • Inspirations 
    • Issue 14 "In Prayse of the Needle" pp. 24
    • Issue 22 "Scottish Thistle" pp. 42
    • Issue 26 "Papillon" Butterfly Box. pp. 32
    • Issue 27  "Summer Fruit" Drawstring work bag.  pp. 28
    • Issue 29 "Damselfly" by Jane Nicholas.  pp. 24
    • Issue 31 "Liberty" a Stumpwork Cricket in gold.  pp. 26
    • Issue 32 "Elizabethan Dragonfly" pp. 22
    • Issue 36 "Elizabethan Sweet Bag" (cover)
  • Embroidery and Cross Stitch
    • Volume 3, Number 2.  "Gardener's Delight"  pp. 48
    • Volume 3, Number 3.  "Goldwork Heartsease & Strawberries" pp. 72
    • Volume 3, Number 6.  "Pansy Parade" cover and pp. 26
    • Volume 4, Number 1.  "La Petite Pooch" pp. 54
    • Volume 4, Number 6.  "Raised Embroidery" pp. 20, "The Language of Flowers" pp. 22 and "Elizabethan Rose" pp. 28
    • Volume 5, Number 1.  "Golden Whistlers" by Jean Fletcher pp. 58
    • Volume 5, Number 3. "Heartsease and Strawberries" pp. 22
    • Volume 5, Number 4. "Grazing and Lazing"
    • Volume 5, Number 5.  "Violets" pp. 62
    • Volume 5, Number 6.  "Golden Gum Blossoms" pp. 33
    • Volume 6, Number 3. "Flemish Still Life" pp. 36 and "Stumpwork Grapes" pp. 68
    • Volume 6, Number 4.  "Violets from Windsor" pp. 58 and "Champagne Rose" pp. 64
    • Volume 6, Number 5.  "Bursting Red Gum Blossoms" pp. 66
    • Volume 6, Number 8.  "Four Sheep Grazing" pp. 44
    • Volume 6, Number 9. "Strelitzia Stumpwork" Bird of Paradise pp. 44
    • Volume 6, Number 10. "Scarlet Honeyeater and Wattle"
    • Volume 7, Number 10. "Native Flowers of Australia"
    • Volume 7, Number 11.  "Merry Christmas Robin"
    • Volume 8, Number 2. "Laugh Kookaburra, Laugh"
  • Sampler & Antique Quarterly.  Spring 2002.  Volume 26. "The Lady's Dogwood".  

[1]   Wallis, Branwen Madyn.  Elizabethan Raised Embroidery.  

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The fine print:

This site is intended to be an educational site to share my passions. The images and ideas herein are my sole intellectual property, unless other wise noted, and I reserve and retain all rights. Linking to this site is perfectly acceptable, but reproducing any of the contents electronically or in print, without my express permission, is not.  


 Rissa Peace 1999-2013

This site last edited: 01/01/13