Completed piece of Jacobean Crewelwork for the RSN Certificate

Jacobean Crewelwork Assessment and Comments

My Jacobean Piece has been assessed!

I’m finally getting a chance to update you on the assessment of my Jacobean piece – my first piece I completed as part of the RSN Certificate. You have probably guessed, but I’m not yet doing very well at keeping up with the stitching and the blogging at the moment, but hopefully I can finally get myself together to be able to do both!

Overall, I was very happy with the results. There were a few comments I was a little unsure about, but it was more from a ‘next time’ perspective than it was from this particular piece perspective.

Completed piece of Jacobean Crewelwork for the RSN Certificate


What is the Assessment Process?

Something I was a little unsure of, was what exactly ‘happens” when your piece is assessed.

When you submit a piece, you also need to submit a self assessment, workings and some general feedback on your tutors and the RSN in general. I actually found the self assessment quite difficult. It’s easy to see all the things wrong with your work, and what you would have done differently.  But you need to ensure you balance that with not drawing the assessor eyes to all your faults! The tutors are actually very good at helping you shape this if you are in doubt as to what to say on this.

When you first start the module, you are also given the mark scheme, along with the brief. In some ways, the mark scheme is more useful than the brief, as it includes more details, and on occasion, more requirements, than what the brief states. So it’s a good idea to pay attention to both these pieces of information as you work your piece.

So, what was the assessment of this piece?

The assessment is broken down into a few components, which I’ll let you in on now!

‘First Impressions’

This is where consideration for covering of design lines, thread wear not being apparent and presenting the work as a clean piece, is assessed.

For this, I scored fifteen out of a possible sixteen marks. I lost some marks for not covering all design lines in ‘one or two areas’. I thought I had covered them all, but a professional’s eyes are very different from an amateurs! Comment was made that the thread wasn’t worn, which to be honest I was a little surprised at, as I was sure on my whipped wheels the thread was worn a little.


Here, the assessors are looking for a design that is in the traditional style of Jacobean, has been placed on the grain, and that your colour and stitch placement is even throughout. With Jacobean, they are also looking for a balanced design, with a good balance between open and stitched areas.

For this section, I achieved twenty-seven marks out of a possible twenty-eight marks.

This was one of the points I wanted to talk to my tutors about. The comments were that the design was sympathetic to the Jacobean style, the colours and stitches used were well balanced, and that there was a good balance of open and stitched areas. The comment I was a little ‘perplexed’ at was that the design could have been ‘more harmonious’, as the heavy top leaf with the squirrel underneath made the design unbalanced. Now they have said that, I can see where they are coming from. But I wasn’t sure what I should have done differently.

Heather said this is where personal opinions come in, and also, you have to get a lot of stitches in the design. So whilst if you were to do this piece without the brief in mind, you might balance it out a little more, with the brief requiring such a large number of stitches to be used, this sometimes can’t be achieved.


This area, along with mounting, was where I was less concerned about my marks. My theory being that improvement, whilst made throughout the piece, will also continue to be made for many years.

Here, they are looking for technically correct stitches, tension consistency, and of course, that large number of stitches to be worked.

For this section, I scored a total of thirty-three out of thirty-six marks. The comments were that I had good tension, and whilst improvement could be seen throughout the piece, some of my outline stitches were a little ‘nibbled’.

Another comment I wanted to talk to my tutors about, was the comment that my shading, whilst good in some areas (and again, improvement seen), on the main stem there wasn’t any shading. Probably because I didn’t attempt to shade it! In my eyes, the unshaded, un-realistic nature of the main stem, was part of the design! Again, Heather said it was nothing to worry about, and was subjective. So this is the only part of the assessment I’m a little disappointed in. My colour drawings also showed it as being blocky, so part of the overall design. I’m not particularly fussed about it, it is all part of the process!


Here is where it gets quite particular! And to be honest, after all the problems I had mounting it, with the board warping, I certainly got a much better result for this than I thought I would.

In this section, they are looking for neat, crisp corners, well stretched, with no puckering, no pin marks on either the linen or the sateen, and for no stitches to be seen.

In this section, I scored twenty-five out of a possible twenty-eight marks.

The comments were that it wasn’t quite on the grain (something Heather struggled to see and get right), that some pin pricks were visible, and also, that some of my slip stitches weren’t pulled tight enough. Nothing about the board warping! Whether this is because I put it as a comment on my self assessment or not I’ll never know.

Final comments

To save you the maths, I scored a total of one hundred out of a possible one-hundred and eight. Something I am very happy with!

The closing remarks said they liked my squirrel as he added interest (I quite like him too!), and that I ‘am a careful embroiderer who enjoyed my first Certificate embroidery’. Which I thought was a lovely thing to say!

The progress of this piece

If you are interested in seeing this piece go from ‘nothing’ to ‘something’, you can click here to be taken to the page with all the posts I’ve written about my first RSN piece, and the progress, ups and downs of it all!

Stitches used

For this piece, the brief says you have to use a minimum of eighteen stitches – which is a lot for a piece which is to be about the size of an A4 piece of paper!

So I thought I would show you, in pictures, which stitches I used throughout the piece.

There are a variety of stitches used in Jacobean Work, and here is a selection
There are a variety of stitches used in Jacobean Work, and here is a selection


There are a variety of stitches used in Jacobean Work, and here is a selection
There are a variety of stitches used in Jacobean Work, and here is a selection


There are a variety of stitches used in Jacobean Work, and here is a selection
There are a variety of stitches used in Jacobean Work, and here is a selection


There are a variety of stitches used in Jacobean Work, and here is a selection
There are a variety of stitches used in Jacobean Work, and here is a selection


I hope you’ve enjoyed this little summary of what the assessors thought of my first piece. It is something I was both slightly scared about, but also very eager to see what they said. This is the first time I’ve ever had a professional seriously critique my work. This is all a learning experience, and we only learn by things being picked up on how we can improve. I’m not holding such high hopes for the canvaswork piece, which I’m working hard to get submitted this term (which finishes this week!). I’ll be interested in their comments, as this is a technique I really struggled to come to grips with. And the castle was quite the problem! I eventually had to make a decision to just do no more, otherwise I was at risk of never submitting it!

Would you like to know more?

If you are interested in the RSN Certificate, and my experience with it, I’m more than happy to ‘talk’ to you about it. So please do get in touch either by leaving a comment on this or any other post, or by using the contact form to send me an email. I’m certainly very much an eager beaver at this point, and am more than happy to share with you my experiences and thoughts.

50 thoughts on “Jacobean Crewelwork Assessment and Comments”

  1. Congratulations Catherine, well done! The piece really looks wonderful! The grading sounds really scary though, I am getting nervous already! How long did you have to wait between handing it in and getting the marks?

    1. Thanks Marlous! I think I’m actually more scared about the canvaswork piece Assessment – they might not be as accommodating once you’ve got one module completed!
      The time it takes seem to depend on a few factors. I handed it in in about February, and it was marked over Easter (yes, it has taken that long for me to write this post!). But, they mark on a first come first served basis, so if they run out of time, you will go to the front of the queue for the next marking period. There are three marking periods each year, at the end of each term (Easter, Summer and Christmas). I’m not actually sure my canvaswork will be marked, as I’ll be handing it in the day before term breaks up, and they will also have all the intensive pieces to mark!
      I hope you’ve been able to get all the information you need to start yourself!

  2. I love it the way it is, but I have one tip on balance that might help (or not) in future designs. I took a graphic design workshop and they told us to use a Z format, because it draws the eye across the entire page in the most natural way. So if you look at your piece drawing a Z, it might make a little more sense that they thought the left side was a little heavy?

    1. Thanks for the tip Kathy. I haven’t heard of the Z format before, but I will keep it in mind for the future!

  3. I think that you have done yourself proud. Maybe the squirrel could have gone bottom right? I have doen some crewel work from kits and to say you did this from scrtach is good. Give yourself a big pat on the back! I did a C&G creative embroidery course about 20 years ago, you have got me seriuosly tempted. I have enlcoed my email address and I would love to hear your thoughts on studying with the RSN please.

    1. Thanks Cathy. I keep seeing the C&G courses mentioned and am wondering if maybe that will come next for me! But I’m quite keen on finishing the Certificate and Diploma first, which is a lot of work, so one step at a time!
      I will email you shortly – I need to get dinner going first ?

  4. As a person who has assessed pieces for the RSN, it isn’t all straight foward. That’s why you always work in pairs. And if you can’t agree, it even goes to another pair to have a look. The system has it flaws, as some things are subjective, but over all it is quite a fair system. And I really enjoyed assessing! So many lovely pieces passing through your hands on assessment day :).

    1. I didn’t realise you also assessed pieces!
      I have no doubt it is a very difficult process, and whilst it is meant to be as objective as possible, in this type of assessment, being subjective is going to come into it. It’s not like marking a maths exam! It’s good to know that there is a rigorous process going on behind the scenes that we, as students, don’t know about.
      Also, following on from your comment last week, I’ve done a bit of work behind the scenes so to speak, on making the website load faster (and in the process have learnt more about IT than I thought I ever needed to know!). There’s still some more work to be done, but the testing websites I’ve used are saying that everything is loading as it should be ? Thanks again for letting me know!

    1. Thanks so much Alex! It was something I had no idea how it was going to end up, so it was nice to get both constructive and positive feedback.

    1. Thanks Margaret. I was quite pleased, and somewhat surprised, at getting such a mark! I know it’s not perfect, but there is room for improvement.

  5. Well done ?
    I’m hoping to get mine finished soon hopefully in time for the next assessment period.
    Hope your canvas work is still going well

    1. Ultimately, it will get marked when it gets marked! You don’t need to pass each module before moving on, which is good.
      I’m really hoping to be able to hand the canvaswork in for assessment this week. I’m not sure I’m going to get a positive assessment for that one, it has been quite the struggle!

  6. Congratulations Catherine, I think 100/108 is a mark to be proud of and this is just a stunning piece of embroidery which will surely become a family heirloom.

    I particularly love the mixture of heavy chain, chain and stem stitch you used on the squirrel’s tail – it’s such an effective combination of stitches and looks so life-like. Also, the trellis work with fly stitch section he is sitting on is to die for – another great combination which I’ve never tried before – you’ve certainly left me with lots of stitch-inspiration. Thanks for sharing in such detail. 😀

    1. Thanks Bella ? the squirrel’s tail was quite the problem at the time, as I wasn’t sure how to fill it. My initial suggestion was turkey rug stitch, but my tutors didn’t like that idea so an alternative had to thought up! I think that part all worked quite well in the end, despite the several starts I made on it before being happy with it. I’m glad you like the variation to the trellis filling. There are so many options available to you, and maybe needing to get so many stitches in is a good idea, as it means you try things you wouldn’t normally. Glad I’ve been able to help with your stitch inspiration!

  7. Congratulations, that is a fantastic result and a beautiful piece of work! Fascinating t read about the marking process – they are so strict!

    1. Thanks Jennifer. It might seem strict, but it makes sense when you consider they are trying to achieve a very high standard of work that is made there. I actually quite like it, when you know the right way to do things you can always break the rules!

  8. The assessors made some interesting comments, and I think you will find them useful in planning your next piece. The trick will be in working out how to apply those comments to a different style and a design. If they are at all fair, they won’t start being really tough until next time, because they’ll know you won’t have had your first assessment back when you were working on the canvaswork!

    1. Yes, I found their comments quite constructive, and have given me food for thought on any future Crewelwork designs I do. Canvaswork is quite a different technique, so it will be interesting to see how that assessment compares. It is a learning experience, and even silk shading and goldwork are different from the previous styles studied, so it is probably more about general stitch technique than anything!

  9. As someone who has only ever embroidered very casually, using maybe a total of five stitches, I found this fascinating, especially the close-ups of all your different stitches. Great job and such a good, solid assessment!

    1. Thanks Kerry. It has been a great learning experience, and I certainly know a lot more stitches and about embroidery now!

  10. Congratulations! I loved seeing the images with all the stitches you used. Evaluating embroidery is like evaluating art, it’s all about perception. I love reading about the evaluation process though as it gives me an idea of what to expect in the event I decide to take the class as well. What’s the next step for you now?

    1. I had never thought about the process of evaluation being much like art – thanks for that!
      Next step is to get this canvaswork piece handed in! Then getting cracking with the silk shading piece ?

  11. Thank you very much for all the detail I really hope to be able to tackle these classes next year and your wonderful explanations of what is required have certainly helped me to believe I could give the certificate a go. You inspire me. Well done!

    1. That is very sweet of you to say that! I’m sure you could give it go. It’s a lot of work, but it is also self paced so the amount of work really is up to you. The tutors are fantastic and truly want everyone to do well. I thoroughly enjoy it!

  12. Congratulations, you should be very proud of yourself you’ve done a marvellous job. I’ll have my fingers (and everything else) crossed for the canvaswork piece.

  13. I’m amazed at the beauty of your work. Sounds like a great score to me, but I don’t do this kind of work. Congratulations on your first assessment being so high.

  14. Thank you for sharing everything on this post. I have never done anything to be critiqued and found your post fascinating. Congratulations on such a high score! Especially since it was your first critiqued piece. I think your stitching is exquisite. And I think you are a VERY creative person. I love coming to read your blog…it is always interesting and new for me! Beautiful work always!

    1. Oh thank you! That is very sweet of you. I never considered myself to be creative (I am an accountant after all!), but I do think I’m becoming more creative and less of an accountant! So glad to have you joining me ?

  15. Congratulations. This assessment thing sounds really complicated. You embroidery looks perfect and beautiful to me. Thank you for joining The Really Crafty Link Party this week,. Pinned!

  16. well done, what an amazing score! Bear in mind that they probably NEVER give full marks… I think your piece is beautiful and beautifully stitched and I enjoyed watching you work on it. What’s next after canvas work?

    1. Thanks Wendy, I was very pleased with it, and the comments were constructive which was good.
      Now onto silk shading!

  17. Well done, your marks sound very good to me. It was great to hear about the assessment process as I am quite worried about it (especially worn thread – as I find this very hard to judge). I was particularly interested in the stitching you used to fill the trellis work under the squirrel – but can’t quite make out what you have used.

    1. Thanks, I was quite pleased. It is something you know very little about until you go through the process. It was good to hear the assessors results. They were fair and constructive which is what you want! I’ll be interested to see what they say about the canvaswork- I don’t hold high hopes for it!
      Under the squirrel I filled the trellis with three different coloured fly stitches. I didn’t know what to do but this seemed to give a good pattern!

  18. Wow, I can’t even imagine how I’d feel having someone be so uber critical of my work! I think 100 out of 108 sounds pretty amazing though. This is a lovely piece of work, you must be delighted. Thanks so much for shairng the detail and some of the process with us

    1. Thanks Julie. Believe it or not, but someone being uber critical of my work is one of the reasons I wanted to do this! Thanks so much for hosting.

  19. Congratulations for doing so well on your assessment. I’ve liked this piece from time I saw your first drawings and have really enjoyed watching it progress.

    Thanks so much for linking up to last week’s Stitchery Link Party. Aloha hugs!

    1. Thanks Sue. I was really pleased, and still need to pinch myself that I actually made it entirely start to finish!
      Thanks for hosting ?

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