Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum. What do you think of when you see those words? I think of a huge place, full of just about everything. Everything and more everything. This was going to be fun…

Going into the museum I was determined to spend the time I had looking at textiles and specifically textiles from the 15 – 17th centuries. I asked a gentleman at the information desk where to go and moments later I was on my way to a wonderful few hours soaking up inspiration from the past.


As I wandered around I took photo after photo. I was like this golden ballerina – lost in the clouds. These photos will provide me with inspiration and ideas for a long time.  I’ve uploaded the photos for you to enjoy so you can have a similar experience to me and get lost in the images of embroidery from the past.

To view the photos click here.

After you’ve looked, please share your favorites with us in the comments below. My favorites? #21 – what detail! I’d love to hear from you!

20 thoughts on “Victoria and Albert Museum

    • Hi Meri,
      Yes, it is hard to choose…and my favorite might change depending on what I’m ready to work on next.
      Liebe Grüße,

  1. Hello Kathy,

    I like # 21 too and all the related photos # 12 – # 21. I would like to know more about the stitches and technique. I also like # 35. Really I enjoyed looking at all of the Elizabethan photos! Thank you for sharing your visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum with us. One day I hope to visit in person!

    Best wishes,

  2. Hi Kathy,
    I love #51, an architectural detail, just great.
    I was under the impression that all the textiles had been moved to a new textile only site to the west of the V&A.
    Glad to see I’m wrong.

    • Hi Janet and Diane,

      Janet, Maybe all the textiles that aren’t part of the general displays have been moved…I didn’t ask about anything special as I had only 3 hours to spend there. I too love the arches that surround the people in this piece. Update: I just found the article that talks about the new center…
      Dianne, I should have taken photos of the display tags but I was so engrossed in the textiles I just forgot! I know the V&A has a very good web site with much of their collection online so it would be work a look. Update Dianne, I’ve found quite a few of the textiles on the V&A site and have linked my photos to their information pages.
      Liebe Grüße,

  3. Hello Kathy

    I love them all. Like you I was overwhelmed by the source material at the V & A. Thought you might be interested to know that my RSN Certificate Goldwork was inspired by the mittens at photo 11. I know I will come back to other things later on!
    It is a deep seam to mine.

    • Hi Pippa,

      I just zipped over to your beautiful web site and saw your certificate goldwork piece. It’s lovely!

      Liebe Grüśe,

  4. Hi Kathy

    Wonderful photo’s which remind me why I need to re-visit the V & A!! Thanks for posting these on your web site.

    I can see why you would choose 21 – beautiful leaves. I also liked this pillow cover with all its wonderful embroidery.

    But I am intrigued with photo number 49 – especially with the long and short stitched face in silk on the mitre.

    Best wishes Pam

    • Hi Pam,
      Yes, that face is so delicate. And really tiny. I always wonder how they stitched such fine detail before the invention of the electric light and a magnifier!
      Liebe Grüße,

  5. I have to say 47-56 were my favorites. I am a sucker for eccelsastical embroidery! Thank you so much for sharing them!!!

  6. Great photos. I saw and tried to photograph many of the same pieces on my last trip to London a couple of years ago. I didn’t capture the lovely detail you got. I really 22-23…the tone on tone texture is great. Thanks for sharing them!

    • Hi Marjorie,

      Wait until you see the photos of Luzine Happel’s white work! (coming soon!) The photos remind me so much of some of her work.
      Liebe Grüße,

    • Hi RM,
      I agree.
      I just kept looking at them as I edited and loaded them – finally I had to walk away from the computer screen!
      Liebe Grüße,

    • I won’t argue with you about that Kathy, I went back after my embroidery dizzy spell, and am looking at it as a slide show. 🙂

      I like 13,15,17,19,22,34,41(PINS! :-),52, 57 and 60 the best, since you asked me to choose, but if you had not asked that, I would have not been able to pick. Forget it, I couldn’t choose ONE, so I chose one SIXTH….. 🙂

  7. 44-46 are my favourites as I am into stumpwork at the moment. I have taken photos of the same pieces you have but my photos are nowhere near as good. How did you manage to get such bright photos without the flash? I am continually learning. Photography is such a necessary hobby for our work. Thank you for posting. You blog is always so interesting

    • Hi Jane,
      Thanks for your comment about the photos. It IS a necessary part of what we do if we want to share our work with anyone who doesn’t live nearby! Here’s how I got the photos to turn out so well:

      Not long ago my DSLR camera lens stopped working. Fixing it was expensive and replacing it was very expensive. My husband and I did some research and decided to get a Fuji Finepix HS30 EXR for me to use. It has 30 MP and a 30X manual optical zoom. So far (I’ve had it less than two months) I discovered two things that make it perfect for taking photographs of embroidery: it has a macro and a super macro setting and – most importantly for photographing textiles inside where flash isn’t allowed – a setting called “Pro Low-light” This has made taking photos in museums so much easier.

      I’m sure there are many good cameras out there and I still would like to have a new DSLR BUT they are very expensive and I would rather spend my money of embroidery things and my time stitching, not learning how to use another new camera! The Finepix has loads of automatic settings that make it relatively simple to learn. I’m still learning how to use the camera and I haven’t mastered it yet. I’m so used to my old 8MP DSLR after years of using it that the new controls and all the technology are confusing. I carried the instruction manual with me! However, the quality and clarity of the photos is amazing so taking time to learn how to use it is worth the effort.

      Liebe Grüße,

  8. Hi Kathy. I am intrigued by photo 41 which shows an array of needles. I have often wondered what the needles used by long ago embroiderers actually looked like, so it was interesting to see them. Thanks for the inspiring photos, and the fine detail of the embroidery you were able to capture to show us.

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