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Needlework Development Scheme (1934-1961)



  • Existence: 1934 - 1961


The Needlework Development Scheme was founded in 1934 as the result of a grant made anonymously by thread producers J & P Coats to the four Central Art Institutions of Scotland in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The scheme was to operate exclusively in Scotland and control was vested at that time in a committee composed of the Directors of the four Scottish Art Schools.

The aim was to improve the standard of design and technique in relation to embroidery in Scotland, by giving teachers and students alike opportunities to study at first hand good specimens of actual embroideries purchased from the best designers throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. And thus, the building up of such a collection carried on vigorously during the five years that preceded the outbreak of war in 1939.During the war period activities ceased, but at the end of 1944 a re-organised scheme with headquarters in Glasgow was able to extend the scope of its influence throughout the United Kingdom.

In 1946 an Advisory Committee was formed, consisting of representative from the Ministry of Education, London, the Scottish Education Committee, Edinburgh, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Needlework Development Scheme. The committee met at regular intervals to discuss the policy of the Scheme and to accept or reject newly acquired specimens. In addition to contemporary embroideries, a special effort was made to acquire good specimens from the best embroidery periods of many countries and also of traditional and peasant work from countries where this still flourished.

About this time the first book Needlework Development Scheme was produced and this was followed both by a series of Embroidery Stitches books and by regular bulletins on sewing and embroidery. The bulletins And So to Sew and And So to Embroider were aimed at an audience of young girls, and were designed especially to help with basic sewing and embroidery problems in relation to dress, the making of decorative, well-chosen accessories and simple furnishings.

In the post-war years and throughout the 1950s, as the country recovered from war-time shortages and as new teachers brought new methods and fresh enthusiasm to their task, standards steadily improved and more and more books were written by the most talented designers, richly illustrated to show their particular approach to the challenge of embroidery.

Without in any way claiming more than a contributory part in the strong and favourable evolution of embroidery throughout the country, it became increasingly clear that the objectives NDS was established for were being achieved. Thus, it was decided to terminate the scheme by the end of Miss Hills' tenure in 1961. By then, the scheme had amassed 3,500 specimens, which were distributed to a wide variety of bodies for which they would be of permanent value, including the four founding Scottish Schools of Art, the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh [now the National Museum of Scotland] and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Source: A Background to NDS Needlework, Needlework Development Series (Needlework Development Scheme: Glasgow, 1950s); and typescript paper entitled "A Brief History of the Needlework Development Scheme" by Colin M. Martin, July 1984.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Bulletins and printed ephemera, c 1950s

Identifier: Coll-2053/2
Scope and Contents This series includes two series of bulletins published by the NDS (And So to Sew and And So to Embroider) and their original envelopes, pamphlets and leaflets, an NDS order form, and two NDS folded posters. NDS sewing bulletins And So to Sew, issue no. 1 , and issues no. 1a to 26a. Also includes a green...
Dates: c 1950s

Material relating to the Needlework Development Scheme

Identifier: Coll-2053
Content Description

This fonds consists of slides, bulletins, and printed ephemera produced by the Needlework Development Scheme to support and contribute to the advancement of embroidery in Scotland and in the UK between 1934 and 1961.

The donated material also included books published by the Needlework Development Scheme, and NDS-related publications that feature their work. These have now been transferred to Rare Books collections.

Dates: mid-20th century

Slides, c 1934-1961

Identifier: Coll-2053/1
Scope and Contents This series consists of slides produced by the NDS and used for teaching and for publication. Most of them still have their original boxes / folders. Black folder entitled "NDS" on the front and labelled "Designing from Traditional Embroideries" on the spine containing 20 colour slides and 1 title slide. Inside there is a booklet also entitled "Designing from Traditional Embroideries", explaining that...
Dates: c 1934-1961

Additional filters:

Archival Object 2
Collection 1
Bulletins 1
Embroidery 1
Needlework 1
Needlework -- Scotland 1
Needlework -- United Kingdom 1