Lindy Richardson: Historic Embroidery Conservation & Community Inspiration ss019

Today on the Stitchery Stories embroidery podcast, Lindy Richardson shares her current research project. She chats with Susan Weeks about the collection of historic embroidery held by Edinburgh College of Art which was originally part of the Needlework Development Scheme.

Continue reading to discover the highlights of our chat and to see examples of Lindy’s project.    

The NDS was founded in Scotland in 1934, sponsored by J and P Coats, the thread manufacturers. Its aim was to encourage embroidery and up until it was disbanded in 1961, well over 3000 items of historic embroidery from across the world had been amassed.

70 items held by Edinburgh College Of Art form the focus of a project which has seen study and conservation of the items. The project has involved diverse community groups, assisting with conservation as well as inspiring them to create their own Embroidered Stories. This is an uplifting project.

Susan chats with Lindy about:

  • The history of the collection of the Needlework Development Scheme (NDS)
  • Discovering 70 pieces from the collection tucked away in cupboards
  • The current project focused on the collection
  • Taking the project to the Scottish Prison Service
  • Involving immigrants & refugees
  • Expert amateurs from local ‘Guilds’
  • Studying and conserving the collection
  • The therapeutic benefits of doing embroidery within the daily routine of prison life
  • Creating the ‘Embroidered Stories’ pieces and creating an exhibition around them
  • Integrating the different groups through the project
  • Inspiring newcomers to design and create their own embroidery
  • The challenges of handling & restoring historic embroidery
  • The challenges of getting project ‘stuff’ into prison!
  • Keeping the collection true to it’s origins as a handling collection

If you have been involved with the Needlework Development Scheme over the years in any capacity, or know someone who has, then Lindy would love to talk to you. Please contact her!


Lindy Richardson Programme Director Textiles Edinburgh College of Art
Lindy Richardson Programme Director Textiles Edinburgh College of Art

Visit: (after 10Dec2017)



Contact Lindy:

Lindy Richardson, Programme Director Textiles, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, EH3 9DF      Tel: 0131 651 5812     Email: