Jacobean Dream by The Wemyss School of Needlework

28th May 2021

Our highlighted project this week from Inspirations issue #110 is the gorgeous Jacobean crewel cushion designed for us by The Wemyss School of Needlework in Scotland. The design was inspired by a historical needlework fragment from Wemyss Castle, and recreated in glorious shades of blue, burgundy and purple.

Fragment of 17th Century Crewel Hanging

But the question you might be asking is what is The Wemyss School of Needlework? Well… we’re glad you asked! Today we’ll share some of the history about this venerable organisation and what led them to contributing this fantastic design in Inspirations magazine.

The school was originally established in 1877 by Dora Wemyss, the eldest daughter of James Hay Erskine Wemyss of Wemyss Castle in Scotland. Dora had been inspired by the Royal School of Needlework in London that had been established not long before in 1872.

Dora was keen for her school to have an emphasis on philanthropy as much as it did on the preservation of the needle arts.

As such, she originally set the school up to help local girls learn a skill so they could gain employment and earn their own living.

At first, the girls who entered the school were daughters of local miners who undertook a 6-month apprenticeship. After that was complete, the girls could either head out to find work with their new needlework knowledge, or some were encouraged to remain at the school where they would transition to employees.

One of the reasons the school has remained so successful over the decades is thanks to the Mistresses who managed it. From the first Mistress, Mrs Jean Webster, through to Mary Birrell – great granddaughter of Jean, who finally retired after 42 years in 2011, these women have ensured that the school has run smoothly, and all of the students have left with exemplary needlework skills and knowledge. 

Since 2012, the School has modernised and reinvented itself, increasing its range of kits, accessories and books as well as still offering classes. Now under the guardianship of Fiona Wemyss, it also has a fantastic museum filled with textiles, historical documents and artefacts from the early days of the School.

It is with this background that you can gain a deeper appreciation of Jacobean Dream. The shape, design and colour of this elegant cushion are all derived from a fragment of a 17th Century crewel hanging that is in the museum at the Wemyss School of Needlework.

The central flower, as well as the additional foliage, have been designed so that the embroiderer can try out a host of different stitches and techniques. Worked on traditional linen twill in a glorious palette of Appleton’s crewel wool, if you have never tried your hand at crewel embroidery before, you couldn’t choose a better project to start out with than this one.

Jacobean Dream is as much a sampler and exercise in learning new stitches as it is a project to be admired on completion. This fits perfectly with the whole ethos of the Wemyss School, which has spent almost 140 years bringing together the beauty and pleasure of the needle arts with the practical aspects inherent in this special craft.

Make Your Own Jacobean Dream

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Jacobean Dream by The Wemyss School of Needlework is a striking cushion featuring crewel embroidery based on a 17th century crewel hanging.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 110

Digital Patterns

Jacobean Dream – i110 Digital

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Jacobean Dream includes everything* you need to re-create this charming cushion cover: Fabric (unprinted), embroidery threads and needles.


Jacobean Dream – i110 Kit

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.

Kit does not include cushion insert.

Join our FREE weekly newsletter All Stitched Up!

Back to top