The Traditional Textiles School

  1. Managing Director


Helen was always one of those sticky fingered little kids who was told before entering any property ‘you can look but don’t touch anything’. (She never listened).
This weird little statement has moulded Helen’s career. She loves textiles because if they’re done right, you should be excited to get your grubby little mitts on them and if you handle them, you’re essentially speeding their demise. Oh the irony.....
Helen has put together a crack textiles team with a diverse range of skills covering all the textiles bases mentioned in this site. 
At the Traditional Textiles School we want to share our excitement, knowledge and love of textiles with as many people as possible. We do not believe anyone is too young or old. If you have tried one technique and hated it, let us help you find the ones that tick all your boxes.
Perhaps you wish to explore the art of mindfulness that can be so central to making textiles. 
In short, if you like to learn, spend time in a lovely place in the company of friendly people and possibly consume a fair amount of tea and biscuits or cake, then you, my friends, have found your spiritual home. 
We are ridiculously well trained and commercially experienced (excuse us tooting our own horns for a moment) but we still remember what it was like to be a nervous but excited beginner. Let us share the fun with you and start you on your textile journey. We can teach beginners all the way through to professional level.
* N.B. TTS warn you that a new obsession lies ahead of you (they will help you balance this with new friends in this obsession who will act as your textile obsessives support group ;-D )

Meet the team. 

The team is small but elite, knowledgable but extremely friendly. We have three members of teaching staff so far and are on the lookout for suitable people to widen the subjects which we are offering. 

If you have any marvellous suggestions then do please let us know!
Tutor name: Helen McCook
Subjects: Embroidery, Design, Art & Textile History classes 
& lectures
Background: Proud celtic Brummie 
Aims: To make embroidery & design accessible, enjoyable and understandable for as many people as possible!
Career highlights: Working on the wedding dress, veil & shoes for the wedding of Katherine Middleton and Prince William. Being a published author - The Royal School of Needlework’s essential stitch guide to Goldwork. Creating a dress worn by Kate Moss to Swarovski Fashion Rocks. Being chosen as the first artist in residence for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Founding my own textiles school!  Getting to travel and meet so many different people doing a job which I love. Every day offers a different challenge and that is what keeps me passionately engaged in this subject.
What are you proud of?: Creating a career which I can be proud of and successfully having been a freelancer for the last ten years. Opening my own school!
Tutor name : Sara Rickards
Subjects : Hand embroidery, specialising in tambour beading and embroidery for fashion.
Background : Born and raised in St.Albans
Aims : To teach people tambour beading and hand embroidery so that the world can become just a little bit more beautiful and sparkly. Career Highlights : I have worked for many amazing fashion designers, for example Ben De Lisi, Julien MacDonald, Vera Wang, Stella McCartney and Kate Moss’ dress she wore to Swarovski fashion rocks. I have also had the privilege to teach internationally in places such as San Francisco, Toronto, Kentucky and Williamsburg.
What are you most proud of?:  I love seeing how happy my students are after learning and completing a new technique. It is also amazing to be able to have a career in doing what I love.

Tutor name : Jen Golland
Subjects : Crochet & knitting
Background : Scientist with a love of the creative arts
Aims : To encourage people to learn to knit and crochet and discover how therapeutic it is!
Career highlights : I love making baby blankets and seeing them used and loved by both babies and parents alike. There's nothing better than seeing something you've made loved and cuddled over and over again.


  1. 1
    We offer a range of classes taught by specialists in the following subjects: Hand embroidery, Beading, Silk painting, Fabric printing, Fabric painting, Fabric and thread dyeing, Design, Colour theory, Felting, Needle-felting, Knitting, Crochet, Lace making, Dressmaking, Tailoring, Upholstery, Millinery
  2. 2
    We offer a series of lectures on a wide range of textile and fashion related subjects from historic to contemporary catered for all levels of interest. Contact us for more information.
  3. 3
    We offer a full range of curatorial services and advice from helping to identify and age your textile and how to care for them, all the way through to devising and constructing your exhibition.
    Curation services
  4. 4
    We have a range of art, design, textile and fashion books for reference for use by our clients whilst on site to aid their design and making processes
    Textiles & art reference library
  5. 5
    If you have designs you would like to see translated into beautiful bespoke pieces or would simply like to purchase or commission a one off artisanal textile artwork then we are the perfect fit for you.
  6. 6
    As previously mentioned, we can offer advice on aging and caring for your textile but equally, our team can provide a full service to restore or conserve your item.
    Restoration & conservation services

Class List 2019​

We are working hard to put together a programme that’s enjoyable and accessible to anyone interested in textiles. If there are things that you don’t see here that you would like to learn, do please let us know and we will see what we can do!

The programme is being added to all the time, so do keep checking on the schedule for new additions. 

All classes run from 10 A.M.  til 4 P.M. with a fifteen minute elevenses break and an hour break for lunch. 

If you find a class which interests you, take a note of the name and date and send us a message via the contact form on here.
We will then send you details of how much the deposit will be.
The deposit is 25% of the class fee and kit cost. 
If you can not attend, if you tell us with plenty of notice (over a month) we will try to find someone else to take your place, in which case we can refund your deposit. 
If it is less than a month, we will transfer you onto a class of equivalent price (as per your choice). 
If it is very short notice, please talk to us ands we will try to come to an arrangement which makes us all as happy as possible. 

Needlelace Sampler
​Introduction to Shadow work
​​ Date: Tues 19th February, 2019.

In this course you will be introduced to needle lace in a sampler format.
You will learn:
* How to create a cordonnet
* How to start and finish threads
* How to create four different needlelace stitches
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £18
Date: Tues 26th February, 2019. The aim of this class is to introduce you to shadow work embroidery, to teach you how to start and stop the thread, create basic stitches and apply sequins.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course fee: £60.00
Kit cost: £25

​Intermediate tambour beading
Introduction to Broderie Anglaise
Date: Sat/Sun 16/17th March, 2019.

This class is aimed at students who have already done basic tambour and will extend your knowledge and hone your skills and technique, including cut away technique.
Tutor: Sara Rickards
Course cost: £120.00
Kit Cost: £  TBC
Date: Thurs 21st March, 2019.

This course introduces you to Broderie Anglaise embroidery technique including a variety of most popular surface stitches and eyelets.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £120.00
Kit cost: £20
​Introduction to Crochet
Introduction to Drawn Thread work
Date: Sun 7th April, 2019.

This class will be in a sampler format. You will learn:
* How to hold a hook.
* 4/5 standard basic stitches.
* Repetition to make squares (back and forth and concentric).
* How top complete squares and how to make squares into a blanket.
Tutor: Jen Golland
Course fee: £45.00
Kit cost: £12.00
Date: Thurs/Fri 18/19th April, 2019.

This class will introduce you to drawn thread work. You will learn how to: * Draw away threads. * Fasten the ends. * Hemstitch the sides. * Buttonhole the ends. * Create patterns with the bars.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £120.00
Kit cost: £25

​English Arts & Crafts inspired surface embroidery
Introduction to Knitting 
Date: Sun 28th April, 2019.

In this introduction to knitting class, you will learn:
* How to cast on.
* Basic knit & purl stitches.
* How to cast off.
We will use the knowledge learnt today to learn how to make a scarf.
Tutor: Jen Golland.
Class cost: £45.00
Kit cost: £12.00
Date: Mon 22nd April, 2019.

In this class you will learn:
* Trellis stitch.
* Feather stitch.
* Back stitch.
* Satin stitch.
* Chain stitch.
* French knots.
* Buttonhole.
* Fishbone.
Tutor: Helen McCook.
Course cost: £120.00
Kit cost: £20
Pugin inspired appliqué embroidery
Introduction to Pulled Thread Work
Date: Wed 1st May, 2019.

This class draws its design inspiration from the work of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. You will be introduced to a range of surface stitches appropriate to the Victorian period.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £25
Date: Sat 4th May, 2019 .
In this class you will learn how to:
* Edge areas in which you wish to pull threads.
* Create a variety of pulled thread work patterns.
* Incorporate surface stitching appropriate to the design.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £25

Basic Fabric Covered Box
​Tambour beading 
Date: Sat/Sun 11/12th May, 2019.

The design for this class is inspired by Art Deco design. You will learn:
* How to hold the tambour hook.
* How to start and finish the thread.
* How to do basic chain stitch.
* How to apply beads and sequins.
* How to draw back for a corner.
Tutor: Sara Rickards
Course cost: £120.00
Kit cost: £45.00
N.B. Tambour hooks are available to purchase at the school.   
Date: Sun 5th May, 2019.

This class will teach you how to:
* Measure and cut the board to the correct size.
* Cover the pieces with fabric.
* Stitch the pieces together.
* Create a hinge lid with stitches.
Tutor: Helen McCook.
Course cost: £60.00.
Kit cost: £18
Beginners Blackwork
​Introduction to Stumpwork
Date: Thurs 16th May, 2019

In this class you will learn how to: 
* Count and work 4 different blackwork stitches
* Shade using different thicknesses of thread
*start and finish threads
* work stem stitch
Tutor:  Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £18.00
Date: Fri/Sat 17/18th May, 2019 .
In this course you will learn how to: * Do heavy chain stitch.
* Stem stitch.
* Satin stitch.
* Make a cordonnet
* Create needlelace petals.
* Buttonhole over wire.
* Construct the flower.
Tutor: Helen McCook.
Course cost: £120.00
Kit cost: £25

​Introduction to Or Nue
Follow up Crochet
Date: Sun 26th May, 2019.

The aim of this class is to teach you how to:
* Use stitches to make different patterns.
* How to read a pattern/diagram.
* How to make a mug hug.
* Embellishing with crochet flowers.
Tutor: Jen Golland.
Course cost: £45.00
Kit cost: 12.00
Date: Tues 21st May, 2019.

The aim of this class is to introduce you to the beautiful art of stitching colour over gold to create a pattern or image.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £20
Jacobean Crewel work
Follow up knitting
Date: Mon 3rd June, 2019.

This course will teach you how to do:
* Trellis.
* Long and Short.
* Circular buttonhole.
* Satin stitch.
* Split stitch.
* Coral stitch.
* Fly stitch.
* Double seeding.
* Couching.
Tutor: Helen McCook.
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £28
Date: Sat 15th June, 2019.

In this class we will show you how to: * Change colour.
* Increase/decrease.
* Make knitted bunting on a plaited braid.
Tutor: Jen Golland.
Course cost: £45.00
Kit cost: £16.00

​Crochet nesting baskets
Date: Sun 7th July, 2019.

During this course we will show you how to make crocheted storage baskets which fit inside each other. You will also learn how to:
* Make a magic circle
* Increase stitches
* Make a base
* change direction to work the sides
* How to finish off.
Tutor: Jen Golland
Course cost: £45.00
Kit cost: £16.00
​Embroidered needle case 
Date: Sat/ Sun 5/6th July, 2019.

In this course we will show you how to embroider a motif using a range of surface stitches, cut board and create a needle case from the components.
Tutor: Helen McCook.
Course cost: £120.00
Kit cost: £16
​Surface stitches for complete beginners
​Intro to Opus Anglicanum techniques - underside couching
Date: Sat 20th July, 2019.

This course is aimed at complete beginners and will help you to know how to do:
* Chain stitch
* Satin stitch
* Raised chain band
* Buttonhole
* Fly stitch
* Feather stitch
* applying beads and sequins.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £18
Date: Tues 9th July, 2019.​

This course will introduce you to a variety of couching techniques popular around the medieval period, including the famous opus anglicanum technique, underside couching.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £25
​Glasgow inspired Arts & Crafts style embroidery
Ribbon work embroidery
Date: Tues 30th July, 2019.

This course will introduce you to the style of embroidery popularised by the Glasgow style techniques of the Arts and Crafts period.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £25
​​ Date: Fri 2nd, August, 2019.

This course will show you how to utilise a range of surface stitches in thread and silk ribbon to create a pleasing floral sprig embellished with beads.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £20
Embroidered Pin Wheel
​Knitted Hat
Date: Sat 17th August, 2019.

This course will teach you how to:
* construct a felted roundel
* cut board
* use surface stitching to create an embroidery
* produce a pinwheel from the above components.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £18
Date: Sat 11th August, 2019.

This course will teach you how to:
* cast on in the round
*knit with rib stitch & stocking stitch with a decrease
* Make a pom-pom.
* put all of these components together to make a hat.
Tutor: Jen Golland.
Course cost: £45.00
Kit cost: £12.00

​Or Nue Hare - ‘Fleeting Freedom’
Introduction to Richelieu embroidery
Date: 19-22nd August, 2019.

This course will introduce you to the subtle art of Or Nue (colour over metal) specifically, Italian couching to create a pleasing hare as per the design and also a variety of surface stitches and bright check chips to finish off.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £240.00
Kit cost: £30

Date: Tues 27th August, 2019.

This course will introduce you to the cutwork technique known as Richelieu. You will also learn surface stitches to compliment the design.
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £15
Canvas Shaded Tudor Rose
​Crocheted Bear
Date: Sat 7th September, 2019.

In this class you will learn how to make a Tudor Rose using Appletons wools on canvas with thread colour blending to create subtlety. You will also learn a larger counted stitch for the background filling. 
Tutor: Helen McCook
Course cost: £60.00
Kit cost: £25.00
Date: Sun 1st September, 2019.

This class will teach you how to:
* make a magic circle
* Increase/decrease in the round to make the basic shapes
* stuff and build your bear
* embroider the features.
Tutor: Jen Golland
Course cost: £45.00
Kit cost: £12.00
Beginners Goldwork
Arm Knitted Blanket
Date: Thurs/Fri 26th/27th September, 2019

In this class you will learn how to: 
* Pad with soft string and craft felt
* Couch gold
*Apply pearl pearl/overstretched pearl purl
* Apply beads & chips
*Do cutwork over soft string
Tutor:  Helen McCook
Course cost: £120.00
Kit cost: £25.00
Date: Sun 6th October, 2019.

This class will teach you how to:
* arm knit
* cast on using your arms
* knit a basic stitch
* cast off
* complete a blanket in a day!
Tutor: Jen Golland
Course cost: £45.00
Kit cost: £100.00

Stitch retreat in the beautiful Scottish Highlands

Helen believes that a week away from all the hustle and bustle would do us all the world of good. Throw in hearty food, five star accommodation, excellent embroidery tuition and fresh Highland air and it may well be heaven.... and we haven’t even mentioned the hot tub and that every day, 4 o’clock is gin o’clock yet!​​​

This is suitable for the complete beginner all the way through to professionals seeking CPD.

Helen can provide kits in every hand embroidery style but equally can help you trouble shoot on projects you are stuck on, improve technique or teach you to design, plan and start a unique project.  Just discuss your requirements with Helen prior to the course. 

All rooms are sizeable doubles with en suite (can be made into twin room by request prior to arrival). You are able to share with a partner /friend who wishes to join the course or just partake of the myriad activities which the local area has to offer, including walking, fantastic golf courses,  fly fishing, exploring castles, historic homes, monuments, standing stones and battlefields.

Most people who come to the course come alone  and it offers a great opportunity to make like minded friends in a safe and comfortable space. 

Spaces are limited to ensure lots of tuition and peace! 

Dates for 2019: arrive around 2-5pm Saturday 25th May. Class starts the following morning and runs from 10-4pm everyday.    Students leave promptly following breakfast Saturday 1st June.

​N.B. There is only one room left for 2019!  

B5182. Intro to Goldwork: ‘Inspired by the Luttrell Psalter’.
Date: Saturday 20/4/2019.
Time 10-4pm
Tutor: Helen McCook
Join Helen McCook for this one day introduction to goldwork inspired by one of the most famous manuscripts from the medieval period, the Luttrell Psalter. You will be introduced to craft felt padding, soft string padding, couching, overstretched pearl purl, spangles with beads, chips & cutwork. 
Royal School of Needlework- Birmingham Branch
B5183. Canvas Stitches Flower.

The Traditional Textiles School is very proud to present four classes offered by The Royal School of Needlework in central Birmingham. 
We will be playing host to these special classes and bringing a range of world class tutors to the heart of the country. 

​To book onto these classes please go (press courses, then find Birmingham in venue search) or telephone Mrs Noleen Wyatt-Jones on 0203 166 6938
Date: Sunday 14/7/2019
Time: 10-4pm
Tutor: Helen McCook
In this class Helen McCook will introduce you to a range of counted canvas stitches to create a variety of textured effects within this bright and cheery floral design. 
B5184. Intro to Embroidery: Russian Doll.
B5181. Bullfinch in Wisteria.
Date: Sunday 31/8/2019
Time: 10-4pm
Tutor: Kate Barlow
If you are new to embroidery or just a little rusty, this bright and charming Russian doll is the perfect introduction. During this class Kate Barlow will teach you nine stitches: chain, French knots, Satin stitch, fly stitch, herringbone, buttonhole, whipped running stitch, whipped back stitch and stem stitch, which will all be worked in vibrant floral shades to complement the attractive design. 
Date: Saturday 23/3/2019.
Time: 10-4pm
Tutor: Nicola Jarvis
Join Nicola Jarvis for this one day surface embroidery & embellishing project, worked on a colour printed cotton satin background fabric. This project includes couching, long & short, shaded satin, French knots, lopped coloured purls and beading techniques. 
Other places you can find Helen in 2019.
You can find Helen teaching at other venues. You will need to contact the education departments at these venues to book onto these courses. 
Royal School of Needlework
RSN Scotland.  Certificate & Diploma. 
Venue: The Glasgow Art Club.

January: 23, 24, 25, 28, 29.
February: 20, 21, 22, 25. 
March: 14, 15, 18, 20.
April: 25, 26, 29.
May: 10, 13, 14. 
June: 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27.

RSN Scotland. Day classes.
Venue: The Grand Central Hotel.

- Intermediate Jacobean. 26 & 27th January. 
Opus Anglicanum. 23rd February. 16th March. 27th April. 
- Silk shaded Tudor rose. 11 & 12th May.
- Queen’s silks metal thread class. 21, 22& 23rd June.

RSN Midlands (Rugby). Certificate & Diploma.
Venue: Arnold House. 

February: 6, 9, 27.
July: 3, 13.

RSN USA (Williamsburg). Certificate & Diploma.
Venue: The Williamsburg School of Needlework.

March: 28, 29, 30.
April: 1, 2, 4, 5, 8.

RSN HQ. Certificate & Diploma.
Venue: Hampton Court Palace.

August:  5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15. 

RSN HQ. Day classes.
Venue: Hampton Court Palace.

- Jacobean feather. 16 & 17th February.
- Private goldwork class. 22 & 23rd March. 
- Bee in Bloom appliqué & surface stitching. 5 & 6th June. 
- Queens silks metal threads class. 22, 23 & 24th July.
- Silk shaded Tudor rose. 25 & 26th July.
- Mr Puffin blackwork. 23, 24 & 25th August. 


  1. ‘Thank you YET AGAIN for an exceptional course in design. What a lot I learnt from you, and still have to learn, but with great enjoyment. I quite see how it can become addictive!’
    Maud C.
  2. ‘Thanks so much for today, it was great and the kids loved it!’
    Jac W
  3. ‘Thanks for a great workshop this weekend. Everyone really enjoyed it’.
    Kirsty R
We believe that a happy team creating beautiful work  and sharing their love and knowledge of the subject in a peaceful setting leads to smiling customers who are happy to refer others to us and can’t wait to return for their next trip to our textiles haven.
Whether it’s classes, lectures, restoration, conservation or new commissions, whatever your reason for coming to us, we’re confident that your first visit will not be your last. 


  1. Wooden threads
    Wooden threads
  2. Silk floss
    Silk floss
  3. Skeins of embroidery thread
    Skeins of embroidery thread
  4. Dressmaking and tailoring
    Dressmaking and tailoring
  5. Equipment
  6. Heart of our mission
    Heart of our mission
  7. Title 7
    Title 7
  8. Title 10
    Title 10
  9. Title 10
    Title 10



17c Vyse Street

The Jewellery Quarter,



​B18 6LE

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How to get to us from Birmingham city centre:


Walk + Train

Walk + Bus

Depending on the speed at which you walk, we estimate that it should take you a minimum of twenty minutes and maximum of thirty to walk from New Street Railway station to us. 
​From New Street Railway station walk for two minutes approximately to Moor Street Station. From there, catch a West Midlands train to the Jewellery Quarter. This will take approximately six minutes. We are a few doors up from the train/metro station. 
Check for connections to the Jewellery Quarter from your home train station on
The buses which come to the Jewellery Quarter from the centre of Birmingham are 16, 16W from Moor Street Railway station, 46 from Birmingham Snow Hill Railway Station and 74 from Colmore Circus. This should take about eight minutes.


​Car or Taxi

We estimate that it should take approximately ten minutes to come from New Street Railway station on a bicycle. You can leave your bicycle in our enclosed courtyard, which is not accessible by the public. 
All taxi drivers in Birmingham will know where Vyse Street in the Jewellery Quarter is. You need to get out at 17 which is just a few doors up from the railway station in the direction of the Big Peg/Rose Villa Tavern.

There is plenty of parking available on all of the streets around the school, including outside (payable on the meters or by phone by following the directions on the meters) or just opposite the school is a multi-storey car park. 

​Walk + Metro

From New Street Railway station walk for approximately two minutes to Corporation Street Midland Metro stop. Catch the West Midlands Metro MM1 in the direction of Wolverhampton to the Jewellery Quarter. This will take approximately 6 minutes. We are a few doors up from the metro stop.