The home of embroidery and stitched textiles in

Durham City

A Short History

The Branch was established in 1995 following a national drive to increase membership of the Embroiderers' Guild. The challenge was accepted by the North-East Region and Durham City was selected as a suitable area for a new group. There was sufficient interest from members of other local branches and, with several potential new members in the pipeline an exploratory meeting of the Branch began with a membership of 38.

Local exhibitions and publicity during the latter part of 1990s helped establish the group throughout the district. As well as encouraging traditional and contemporary embroidery, new skills were learned. These included masks and head-dresses for the Durham Mediaeval Theatre Company and Textile Conservation for the Oriental Museum. Early exhibitions of members work took the branch to Killhope Mining Museum, the Durham County Show, Durham City Show, Durham Cathedral, the Oriental Museum and further afield to the Knitting and Stitching show. Members also took the opportunity to visit other exhibitions and shows around the region and in other parts of the country. Embroiderers love a day out especially if a show just happens to have a very special something to buy...

We have continued to grow and links still exist with the some of the groups above. Some of the names and faces have changed, but we still like to have a good day out and aim to have at least one organised visit to a major show/exhibition/gallery each year.

A Young Embroiderers' group was established in 1997. One of the member's children were keen participants at that time, and in 2014 that member (herself a founder member) took on the leadership of the group. The YE's group continues to thrive exploring different stitching techniques and methods of creativity. The YE's have produced work for Banch and Regional exhibitions.

Every year our members design and stitch new works for exhibitions and competitions. These may be regional or national competitions.


Within the branch we will set at least one 'Members Challenge' every year. Members are given a theme for inspiration, then they design and stitch their interpretation. In 2006 the Branch was inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels for our contribution to the Guild's Centenary celebrations. Other challenges have inlcuded embellish a hat for Christmas, create a piece of work with a tea bag in it, stitch a seasonal postcard.

Many of our members contributed to the works produced for the major travelling exhibition 'Mining a Golden Seam'. This was not only seen in different venues around the Region and UK, but was also taken to an International Show in Paris to much acclaim.

Workshops and stitching groups enable us to become more proficient in our chosen techniques. Outreach sessions and National Stitch Days in public visitor centres, such as the Cathedral, DLI museum, Clayport Library and the Durham World Heritage Visitor Centre enable us meet with the public to enthuse others.

Having celebrated our 20th Birthday in 2015, we continue to be a very vibrant group. Branch membership continues to be well over 50, most of whom are active stitchers. Our level of ability ranges from the absolute beginner through to professional embroiderers and teachers. Our interests include traditional hand embroidery, machine embroidery through to exploring new ideas in contemporary stitched textiles with mixed media. Examples of our work can be seen on the gallery page. We are looking forward to our 25th anniversary in 2020; plans are already afoot to host a range of activities and ensure we have a exhibition of work to celebrate our next miilestone.

Many of our members have completed Degrees, Royal School of Needlework and/or City and Guilds courses in embroidery and stitched textiles. However, it is not a prerequisite to have any of these qualifications to join us.

Whatever level of stitching an individual is at, the branch is very welcoming and encourages us all to have fun, develop a strong sense of camaraderie as we pursue our art further.

If you would like to come along to a meeting as a visitor to find out more about the branch, please contact our secretary for more information. Our Events page includes details of our outreach programme and public stitching days.