Lectures and Workshops

Let History Come To You

One of the things we love the best is bringing our experiences, knowledge, and photos to you!  Through lectures and workshops, we want to take you into the archives were we work and introduce you to the details of historical needlework.  Please contact us to book us for your events. And, during this coronavirus quarantine time, we are available for distance lectures.


In the Archives at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
1 hour Lecture


Colonial Williamsburg is the largest living history museum in the world but there is so much more to the collection than the village!  In this lecture, we will take you into the study room at the Bruton Heights Education center to view rarely seen treasures and learn about what they mean in a historical context.

The foundation that supports both the village and the two museums possesses a vast collection of over 70,000 items.  The textile and embroideries in the collection represent all types of needlework including whitework, blackwork, silk and metal thread, crewel and spans over four centuries and several continents.  Unfortunately, most of these pieces will never be seen on display. 

However, Relics in Situ was able to conduct research both in the study lab and in the archives where we were able to examine and photograph these amazing treasures up close.  We’re happy to bring some of our research and photos to you!  You’ll go with us into the archives to discover embroidered pieces that are either too delicate, worn, or large for museum display.  See what discoveries up-close examination can yield including the messy underside and the pinpricks left behind when the silk has worn away.


In the Archives at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
1 Hour Lecture


Get up close and personal with some very well-known, as well as some seldom seen, embroideries in the world-famous collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Often, curatorial staff will question why you, as a researcher, want to study items in person when those items have been photographed, published, and exhibited already.  But in-person examination can yield surprising details that aren’t apparent in those other settings, especially when you get to look underneath, inside, or extremely up close.  And working with museum staff can help engage new perspectives in even the most well-known pieces.  This lecture explores the benefit of close examination of a number of well-known and seldom seen pieces.


In the Archives at the Daughters of the American Revolution
1 hour Lecture


The Daughters of the American Revolution is America’s foremost lineage society. Their national headquarters in Washington, DC not only holds their vast research archives but also hosts a world-class museum with artifacts related to their members and history. 

From their website: “The DAR Museum supports the NSDAR’s goals of historic preservation, education and patriotism by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the material culture and social history of pre-industrial America.”

We’re excited to be able to bring you up close to history through an examination of some of their remarkable textiles.  Through our detailed photos of samplers and needlepaint art, we’ll examine the impact of needlework on lineage research and how historians utilize clues from embroideries as a tool in their work.


In the Archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum
1 Hour Lecture


The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a vast and incomparable collection of over 75,000 textiles, many of which are gorgeous and historically important embroideries.

Join us as we look at a few of their amazing items, including Elizabethan and Jacobean coifs, caps, and book bindings.


In the Archives at the Fitzwilliam Museum
1 Hour Lecture


We all love the many gorgeous and remarkable needlework relics in the collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambrige, UK.  And we want to share some of our experiences in the archives with you.

We will examine a 17th century casket, coifs and caps, samplers, and pictorial needlework with textured raised work embroideries.  Let's share our appreciation of these fantastic relics and dig into some detailed photos.  


In the Collection of the Rare Books Library at Harvard
1 Hour Lecture


The Houghton Rare Books Library at Harvard University houses some remarkable examples of embroidered book bindings.

Come with us into the stacks to explore this collection, view a few rare items, and find a surprising treasure! We'll discuss who embroidered these books and why, and what they meant.


In the Collection at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University

1 Hour Lecture


The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and home to a collection of over 12 million items -- including some unique, beautiful, and remarkable embroidered book bindings.

We'd love to share with your our experience at the Bodleian, including taking the medieval oath administered to visitors not to start a fire in the stacks!  We'll explore some gorgeous needlework and discuss the historical significance of these books, including their connection to the Tudors.


In the Archives at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
1 hour Lecture


We were excited to examine some truly remarkable pieces of embroidery and textiles in the collection of the FAMSF: from a beautifully preserved forehead cloth to a large and elaborately raised work cabinet, to a charming little pocket. Our lecture will discuss these pieces and more through photos with lots of intriguing up-close details.


In the Archives of the Embroiderers' Guild UK
1 Hour Lecture


The Embroiderers' Guild in the UK has an extensively intriguing collection, full of surprises and delights.  We had the opportunity to see some fantastic items and would love to share them with you.

And in addition to the gorgeous whitework, silk and metal thread, and crewel items, we will explore the connection with the Trevelyon Miscellany's patterns and discuss how women of this time period chose what to embroider.


Accessing Collections
1 Hour Lecture or
3-hour (1/2 day) hands-on workshop

$150 Lecture
$300 3-hour Workshop

We all love to see historical needlework in museums, especially because it happens so rarely.  But with the crowds, awkward cases, and low light, you can learn so much more when you look at artifacts up close and free of the barriers of the display case.  And there are hundreds of more pieces will never be brought out for display.

We’re going to teach you how to get to those artifacts that are never shared with the general public: how to go behind the closed doors and into the research labs and study rooms which are only available to a select few.

In this class, you’ll learn how to find items that you want to study at museums, libraries, and private collections.  We’ll teach you how to create a research plan, how to make contacts with the collections professionals and be taken seriously, how to set up a study appointment, and what to bring with you, what to do during your research, and even how to build a rapport when you’re there.  With these tools, you’ll be able to unlock the key to those collections and access hidden treasures for your own research.

The half-day hands-on training (3 hour workshop) includes additional content including how to put together a study kit, how to handle items, and what to do with your information after you leave.


The Elizabethan Garden
1 day workshop (6 hrs)

(plus kit fees)

Gardens were the center of Elizabethan life.  The domestic English garden was a source of food, medicine, decoration, perfume, and pleasure.  What they grew and how they grew it influenced everything they did and we see nothing more profoundly impacted than their needlework.

In this workshop we explore the influence of the Elizabethan garden on 16th century embroidery and patterns through lecture and hands-on technique. We will look at the language and symbolism of flowers through primary sources such as Herbals, pattern books, and extant pieces of embroidery and go in-depth in the specifics of the Elizabethan aesthetic and color palette.

Lectures will be interspersed with hands-on instruction stitching a small flower motif in period techniques using silk and metal thread and spangles.

This is a stand alone but is the perfect companion to the Jacobean Home workshop.


The Jacobean Home
1 day workshop (6 hrs)

(plus kit fees)

During the Jacobean and Stuart era, home furnishings grew in importance and flourished liked never before.  The  Jacobean home was a display of social standing as well as a place of increasing comfort and domesticity.  This was the beginning of soft cushions, padded sofas, and opulent embroidery on small items such as mirror frames and caskets.  Crewelwork also outstripped silk embroidery as the dominant choice of materials for household items.

In this workshop we explore the increasing importance of embroidered bed hangings, cushions, pillows, valances, curtains, and other home furnishings through lecture and hands-on technique. We will look at the  socio-economic, political, and religious changes with the Scottish King James I's regime and go in-depth in the specifics of the Jacobean aesthetic and color palette.

Lectures will be interspersed with hands-on instruction stitching a flower motif using rich wools and period techniques.


Stitching the Trevelyon
4 day workshop

(plus kit fees)

Explore the world of a 16th needle worker through the lens of the Thomas Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608.  This landmark manuscript, a treasure in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s rare books collection, chronicles everyday life at the end of the Elizabethan era and has over 75 patterns explicitly created for embroidery.  We will read diaries, wills, letters and inventories of the period to gain insight into the importance of needlework.   The student will ply her needle to bring the Trevelyon patterns to life with historically accurate embroidery techniques, colors, and materials in four different styles (blackwork, whitework, silk and metal thread, and crewelwork).  

Morning lectures will focus on historical context through primary sources including images of extant embroideries, followed by afternoon instruction in technique.

Prices do not include kit fees (when appropriate) or travel expenses which will depend on lecture location, please contact us for more details.


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