Washington-area museums and textile collections offer rich inspiration for needlework enthusiasts. Hone your needlepoint skills and learn about needlework history as you visit—and create work at—a number of those sites.
After an initial orientation session on technique led by textile curator Elizabeth Lay, each subsequent class meets at a different location, where the group enjoys a tour focused on needlework examples in the collection. Afterward, participants gather at a location at the site to stitch their own needlepoint projects. Bring your own work in progress or purchase a kit from the instructor at the first meeting. This series is suitable for beginners as well as seasoned needleworkers. Students are supported with assistance throughout the series.
Oct. 17 The Smithsonian’s Ripley Center
In the initial class, Lay provides instruction on topics from preparing a canvas and beginning projects to techniques for basketweave and continental stitches.
Oct. 24 The Textile Museum at George Washington University
The class receives a guided tour of the exhibition China: Through the Lens of John Thomson (1868–1872), which pairs photographic images with Chinese embroidered textiles of the period. The visit focuses on the rich silks and lush needlework of the late Manchu dynasty.
Oct. 31 The Washington National Cathedral
The National Cathedral is noted for its stunning collection of needlepoint kneelers and cushions, which have been created by needleworkers across the country. The group tours several chapels and learns about the history and significance of the cathedral’s vast textile collection.
Nov. 7 Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens
The early decades of the 20th century saw the pinnacle of embroidery and beadwork in fashion. The exhibition Ingenue to Icon: 70 Years of Fashion in the Marjorie Merriweather Post Collection includes costumes from the aesthetic movement through the roaring twenties, reflecting the finest examples of the period. A private tour is provided by the curator.
Lay holds a master’s degree in the history of decorative arts, has taught extensively, and has been an avid stitcher for more than 45 years.
4 sessions, 2.5 hours each
Original design needlepoint kits are available, offered from $35 to $125
Preview the beautiful textile-focused exhibitions that class members will see on visits to the Textile Museum at George Washington University and Hillwood.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)