Adventures In Needlework With Jessica Aldred

I’ve always associated embroidery with pioneer women in bonnets threading needles and working away in rocking chairs in log cabins. It can actually be so much hipper than that! I recently met Jessica Aldred, who is delivering a series of embroidery workshops and talks at reMade DXB. She was so interesting and stylish that I promptly informed her that she had no choice other than to become my friend. Jessica’s embroidery is young, modern, and experimental—the stuff of rabbits in top hats, red lipstick, and magic golden apples. She was one of the few artisans to get the chance to embroider the bodice of Kate Middleton’s iconic wedding gown and actually sewed the buttons onto the back of Pippa’s equally famous frock!

Jessica Aldred at work. No log cabins here!

Jessica Aldred at work. No log cabins here!

Jessica attended The Royal School of Needlework for three intensive years and is on call 24/7 in the event that the UK experiences a change in monarchy. She has been specially trained in the gold work techniques necessary to whip up a coronation robe. At a recent talk at reMade DXB, 15 ladies primly crossed their legs, helped themselves to tea from vintage cups and saucers and sat gasping with delight for nearly an hour as Jessica inducted us into the exclusive (and surprisingly drama-filled) world of embroidery.

Blackwork Madonna.

Blackwork Madonna.

Silkwork from 'Adventures in Needlework'

Silkwork from ‘Adventures in Needlework’

When the strict Headmistress of The Royal School of Needlework summoned her to the basement and commanded her to sign a watertight nondisclosure agreement, Jessica had no clue that she would be working on Kate’s wedding gown. She remembers doing a not-so-subtle victory dance when she realized that she was about to become part of history. A whole series of top secret dressmaking adventures followed, involving secret passwords, hidden studios, stitching around the clock with a kind of wartime mentality, and even getting locked overnight in Alexander McQueen’s archives!

The iconic wedding gown worn by Kate and embroidered by Jessica

The iconic wedding gown worn by Kate and embroidered by Jessica

Since that time, Jessica has co-authored a gorgeous how-to book with Emily Peacock, “Adventures in Needlework,” been swept off her feet by Prince Charming, wed, and relocated to Dubai. She is teaching, working on private commissions and envisioning her own line of hand-embroidered couture. With her raw talent and a unique eye for retro chic, delicious things are sure to come next.

Rabbit in Top Hat Applique

Rabbit in Top Hat Applique

'Adventures in Needlework' by Jessica Aldred & Emily Peacock

‘Adventures in Needlework’ by Jessica Aldred & Emily Peacock

Good Ideas:

To enroll in one of Jessica Aldred’s embroidery classes at reMade DXB go here

‘Adventures in Needlework’ by Jessica Aldred & Emily Peacock is available at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Dubai.

To connect with Jessica and follow her blog, visit her website here.

Photo Credits: Images courtesy of Jessica Aldred