Royal School of Needlework

Royal School of Needlework

The Royal School of Needlework is the internationally renowned centre for fine traditional embroidery and excellence, with its head quarters based at Hampton Court Palace, south west of London.

Trained at the Royal School of Needlework between 1991 and 1994, Tracy continued to work at the school for a further seven years, before leaving in 2001 to become a professional self employed embroiderer. During her time there, and after the apprenticeship in 1994, Tracy became one of the tutors for the Certificate course, and continues to teach the course in Durham City today.

Tracy is now one of the longest established teachers of this course, with more than fifteen years of experience, and a key tutor in leading the way of its development as it is today.

Furthermore, Tracy was the pioneer of running the course independently outside the Royal School of Needlework starting in 2003. Recently, in the last two to three years, more centres have followed her lead.

The course

The course itself is a "hands-on" practical course, taught with the maximum of seven students within a class. Students work on individual projects and are taught one to one, developing their techniques, and working on enhancing their skills. Students will learn how to embroiderer using a slate frame, they will learn how to assemble and dress a slate frame, and how to professionally mount their work for assessment.

Entry requirements

A little experience of embroidery is required, along with enthusiasm and commitment to the course.

Certificate course

The course is based on four core techniques including crewel work, silk shading, canvas work or blackwork, and basic gold work, with each technique or subject taught over eight teaching days. After completion of each subject, the work is assessed by the Royal School of Needlework, with the total marks for each piece forming the overall result for the course.

Diploma course

After successful completion of the Certificate course, the student can then continue studies on the Diploma course. The Diploma course is made up of six techniques or subjects, also taught over eight days, with three core subjects, and three further subjects as a choice from three separate groups.

Compulsory core subjects:

  • Advanced Silk shading - tapestry shading, or natural shading as an animal or bird
  • Advanced Gold work
  • Appliqué

Group one - either subject which was not worked as part of the Certificate course:

  • Canvas stitches
  • Blackwork

Group two - one choice of the following:

  • Stumpwork
  • Box making

Group three - one choice of the following:

  • Creative metal thread
  • Whitework to include pulled, drawn, surface work, cutwork and shadow work


In Durham the course can be taught one of two ways, either by attending over a term for those students who are able to travel to Durham, or intensively for those students who are not able to travel to Durham so easily such as overseas students.

Term time

In Durham there are only two terms a year, autumn and spring. A student would attend one day more or less every other week for eight sessions per term.


This is taught in a two week block in the summer months both weeks running consecutively from Tuesday to Friday. Presently, I run three intensive courses during the summer time.

For further information about future dates of the course, please email


Fees for 2012 currently stand at £990.00 for each subject or technique, or eight days of one to one tuition, including a full comprehensive assessment.


Please contact Tracy about starting the course to find out your learning options by emailing

The application can be downloaded as a PDF, which should be completed, with a copy to be sent to either Gill Holdsworth who is Head of Education at the Royal School of Needlework, or Tracy who will forward the application to the School.


As the course runs as an individual programme, it is possible to start the course either from the autumn term or the spring term, which ever suits the needs of the student best.

Intensive courses are taught as a two week block, with three programmed in the summer month of the year, normally between June and early August.


Students can choose to learn each technique or subject at two or more different venues if they wish, therefore, students who have studied at Hampton Court, Bristol, Glasgow, Rugby, San Francisco or Tokyo where the same course is taught, can choose to learn one the set techniques or subjects in Durham too.


The different techniques for the course and further information can be view on the techniques page.

Stock and equipment

As part of the course, it is required to work on a 24 inch pegged slate frame, and to purchase all the correct equipment, materials, fabrics and threads. All this stock is available for sale from Tracy's studio.


To see past students work - please visit the Durham RSN Flickr account.


Briefs are available for download for registered students with Tracy only. To download the briefs you will need a pass word from Tracy which you can obtain by emailing

  • I studied the four techniques on four 2 week summer intensive courses, and whilst they were extremely hard work I have some wonderful memories and I am very appreciative of and grateful to Tracy. More Testimonials >

    Gill, RSN Certificate Course

  • Our Friday classes are a joy to attend, the class is warm and friendly; each of us sharing our experiences. I am looking forward to progressing to Level 3 and beyond. More Testimonials >

    Penny, LEVEL 2 City & Guilds

  • With Tracy's insight, experience and support to call upon, I am really amazed and delighted at my progress. More Testimonials >

    Jill, RSN Certificate Course

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