Alison Larkin Embroidery

Historical Embroidery in Full-size and Miniature

About Alison

EMBROIDERER

I am a skilled embroiderer with a passion for traditional techniques and fine detail. I love historical work, especially the embroidery worked on costume and accessories during the Georgian period (1715-1830). I study the designs, materials and techniques of the past and work to redevelop those skills and ideas for modern stitchers.

I have been embroidering and dressmaking for as long as I can remember, and have always loved hand stitching. I work mainly in silk thread on silk fabric, or white cotton on muslin, as they did during the long 18th Century. My work extends from museum-quality replicas of historical pieces to items which bring the techniques of the past to modern life.

I also work in miniature, specifically 1/12th scale, making historically researched replicas of embroideries from 17th-18th centuries. These are largely worked to commission: explore the Gallery for images, or please contact me for more information.

A painting hanging on a wall

Description automatically generated
Tryptich: Pond; 2018
Detail: Miniature 18C Apron; March 2020

AUTHOR

Over the last couple of years I have been working to bring embroidery patterns originally published in the Georgian era into the modern age, together with Prof. Jennie Batchelor of the University of Kent. “The Lady’s Magazine, or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex” was one of the first and most successful of women’s periodicals, published monthly from 1770-1832, and with a circulation of 15,000 copies at its height (Jane Austen’s print runs were usually 750!) One of its highlights was publication of an embroidery pattern every month (from 1770-1819): Jennie and I have been working to collect these and are eventually hoping to make them available to modern stitchers. Together Jennie and I have written “Jane Austen Embroidery”, published in the UK in March 2020 by Pavilion Books, and in the USA in May 2020 by Dover Publications. As well as exploring the historical context of Jane Austen and embroidery in the later Georgian period, the book also makes some of the patterns from “The Lady’s Magazine” available to 21st century embroiderers. The English edition has been #1 bestseller in Amazon’s Embroidery listings. The book is available soon through my shop, and also from the publishers, bookshops and Amazon.

A close up of a piece of paper

Description automatically generated
Jane Austen Embroidery, by Jennie Batchelor and Alison Larkin, published 2020

TEACHER

I teach traditional embroidery techniques such as Silk Shading, Whitework, Goldwork and Crewelwork, as well as lecturing on historical embroidery. I have more years’ experience as a lecturer than I care to admit to, mainly teaching (Biology!) in F/HE, and have very good feedback both from my students and from OFSTED and their ilk. Embroidery kept me sane under the stress of my work, and once I was able to move out of FE I have developed it as a second career.

My lectures include historical subjects such as Georgian Costume and Embroidery or Opus Anglicanum, or stories about my work such as the Cook Embroideries Project or my work on Jane Austen Embroidery. For more details about my lectures and classes, please download my leaflet here.

I love teaching embroidery techniques and helping my students develop their skills. I am very happy to demonstrate embroidery techniques, usually in period costume, and I will talk about embroidery to anyone who will stay still long enough!  I also make and sell kits, some of which are silk embroidery, but others are kits to help you learn traditional embroidery methods and techniques to help you develop your own skills. See my shop soon for further information.

A picture containing person, sitting, indoor, laptop

Description automatically generated
Demonstrating at Capt. Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby
Goldwork class in my studio

RESEARCHER

As part of my new career path having left teaching, I focused on making replicas of 18th century embroideries, in particular the work of Elizabeth Cook, the wife of Captain James Cook the navigator, who was a skilled embroiderer. She is one of the few women of the 18th century whose embroidery can be identified, and I have been lucky enough to study it closely and replicate her work. This led me into academic research on the embroidery of the Georgian period, and publication of several papers on the subject. I have been able to handle and record extant items in museum collections, and even collect a few original pieces of my own!

I am particularly interested in embroidery on dress/costume during the Georgian period, and in the patterns available to the domestic embroiderer during the late 18th/early 19th centuries. Many patterns were published in ‘The Lady’s Magazine’ and other such as ‘La Belle Assemblée’ and ‘Ackermann’s Repository of Arts’ after 1770: these patterns have been rare, but I have been able to collect a good proportion of them to use for research, and hope to make more of them available to modern stitchers.

A close up of text on a white background

Description automatically generated
Embroidery pattern for a workbag, published in The Lady’s Magazine, June 1775
A picture containing table

Description automatically generated
Georgian pocket, based on the June 1775 Workbag design; 2019