Hawthorne & Heaney :Dismantling of a Victorian Mourning Shawl


Hawthorne & Heaney was given the Victorian shawl by Sue Thomas from Savile Row bespoke.


In the Victorian era, black was considered the appropriate colour to be worn when mourning the loss of a loved one and in some cultures, this is still the case today. It is believed that the mourning attire was a protection against negative thoughts. By wearing the colour black it also informed family, friends and acquaintances that the wearer had recently lost someone close to them and was a warning not to approach them within this sad period of time. For women, the fashion symbolised the depth of affliction with the colour of clothing indicating the gradual return from black to bold clothing through the hues of purple and violet, this was recognised as the second stage of mourning. The length of time Victorian women wore mourning garments varied on the degree of relationship with the deceased from a week up to a year.


The dismantling of the shawl was a very long process as parts of the shawl was originally constructed using an embroidery technique called tambour beading. Tambour is French for drum and is done by using a hook where the fabric is stretched as tight as a drum. The fabric can be stretched by being sewn onto a rectangular frame or placed in a wooden hoop. The Tambour hook makes a chain stitch in a technical order where it will keep each bead securely in place. If the knot or process of the tambour chain stitch was to be done incorrectly then the whole beadwork would come undone. Depending on your experience using the Tambour technique beads can be secured in place very fast this is why a lot of fashion houses such as Dior are well known for using this technique in order to get garments completed on a tight time schedule. To get each bead loose from the shawl the embroidery stitches were cut allowing the bead to be free. Once all the beads were eventually dismantled from the Victorian shawl they were sorted into bags so all the same beads were neatly secured and measured ready to be used again. Below you are able to see photographs of sections from the shawl being dismantled.


It is very important to Hawthorne & Heaney that the beads are used in another exciting project. This is because of the heritage behind this shawl and the construction that went into the making of it was exquisite. With the shawl being so old it was beginning to fall apart and unable to be restored therefore there was no other option but to take it apart and store the beads safely away until we find a project that will give them a new purpose. We are unsure currently what that project will be but we are sure we will know when the time comes.

Hawthorne & Heaney Visits The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined Exhibition at the Barbican

The word vulgar is used to describe common people, lack of sophistication or good taste and reflects someone making explicit or offensive reference to sex or the body.

The “The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined” exhibition curated by Judith Clark and Adam Phillips displays famous looks from the fashion world dating back from the renaissance to current day fashion. The exhibition definitely gets you questioning about why is vulgar such a sensitive area in fashion and what makes something vulgar?

By looking at the definition of vulgar as being common, it also explores the ideas of fashion being common, has it ever been unique? By trying to be different, your fashion exaggerating then turning into a vulgar taste.

The exhibition includes works from designers such as, John Galliano, Pam Hogg,Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent. Some of the looks there, I can understand as being vulgar, over the top, makes you wonder why is that necessary and in a way almost a bit disturbing. What I found difficult about the collection, is what do you actually classify as vulgar?

Surely it’s all down to personal opinion rather, as some things I did find vulgar but other pieces there I found beautiful.


These hair shoes by Alessandro Michele for Gucci were featured in the exhibition. For me, these shoes say vulgar. They are very eccentric, easy to show off with and over all a strange idea to get over.


Hussein Chalayan’s Autumn/Winter 2014 collection, his dresses covered in acrylic nails. The idea of vulgar coming from the concept rather than the look of it.


Pam Hogg SS14, her designs are very unique and different, but most of the time they are revealing and insensitive. Getting a strong reaction from society which I feel the idea of vulgar is all about.

Walter van Beirendonck 2010-11 “Take a Ride” collection.


Whilst with this Christian Dior SS 2003, I think it is very exaggerated but still has elegance and beauty to it, so does that make it vulgar?


Looks from the Viktor&Rolf collection, Van Gogh Girls, were also featured. But is the actual fashion vulgar? Or is it the whole design of the big straw hat and flowers growing off the dress. This to me creates more of an exciting, artistic presentation of the clothes, presented almost like paintings, what they were inspired by.

Whilst in the exhibition there were also pieces, which I found beautiful, elegant and sophisticated. Lace collars, stomachers and looks by Givenchy, Raf Simons, Chloe and Madame Grès, were some of the looks that I didn’t understand why they were there.


The collection is full of interesting pieces of fashion and historic embroidered pieces such as stomachers, dresses and accessories. It’s a really interesting and exciting collection to see with lots of information and film about vulgarity in fashion and the different movements throughout history that affected it.

Images taken from:









Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker’s House

Burberry is one of the most acclaimed British fashion houses, and to celebrate their Spring/Summer 2017 collection, Burberry partnered up with The New Craftsmen to hold a week long exhibition at Maker’s House, Soho. This event showcased the best of British craftsmen, designers and makers as well as the latest Burberry collection.


As you make your way into the house, you walk through the garden which is covered in fairy lights with large white sculptures of heads, figures and giant horses creating a magical atmosphere before you’ve entered the building.


The house was divided into sections, the first floor is where the makers set up their studio for the day. Each day there are a new group of makers, from jewelry makers, basket makers and textile designers. Whilst I was there, I was lucky enough to see the work of Shepherds Book Binders, sculptor Thomas Merrett, textile designers Rosalind Wyatt and Rose De Borman and even got to listen to storytelling from Pindrop studios. Watching all of this was very exciting, especially to see the work that goes into their practice.


Downstairs is where they displayed giant mood boards showing the inspiration behind Burberry’s SS17 collection designed by Christopher Bailey. For this collection, Bailey took inspiration from the novel ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf, where in the novel the protagonist’s gender changes halfway through. He also drew influences from Nancy Lancaster’s interior design, using her sense of colour and floral designs.


At the very top of the Makers House is where the Burberry collection was located. Each look was presented across the room with music playing in the background. There was a huge screen where we could watch the catwalk show and this was held here in the Makers House. We found out that even the carpet was bespoke designed for the show!



The colours in the collection ranged from black and gold to soft mint greens and pinks. Shapes and techniques used alongside the colours captured both feminine and masculine qualities and this fits the story of Orlando.


This collection was also celebrated as this was the first time the garments were available to buy immediately after the show. Normally it takes around six months to buy what you see on the catwalk.


This was truly a beautiful collection and a great way for everyone to experience and celebrate London Fashion Week.





Hawthorne & Heaney on Embroidery in Illustration – Lica Tang

illustration embroidery

illustration embroidery















Lica Tang‘s work is a clever combination of organic inspiration and digital media coming together to create an original and modern aesthetic.  During her time studying an MA in textile design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, Tang produced a collection inspired by “Animals and Nature” but by using digital media and CAD production techniques, subverts this seemingly ordinary beginning point into a striking and visually subverted mini collection as the showpiece of her degree.


illustration embroidery


Lica Tang embroidery

Monogramming at Brooks Brothers

On Saturday the 10th and Monday the 12th of October, Hawthorne & Heaney were offering a free monogramming service for customers at Brooks Brothers.


Brooks Brothers was founded by Henry Sands brooks in 1818 America, and has since set up in other countries including the UK.

There was a range of colours available, and a selection of styles to chose from.



These are some of the examples of what was being demonstrated at the London Brooks Brothers shop.


If you would like to have anything embrodiered or are thinking about holding an event of your own and would like us to be involved, please get in touch.


Hawthorne & Heaney at the Guess Denim Promotion

On October the 8th, Hawthorne and Heaney set up a monogramming service in Guess, Regent street for their denim promotion event with Glamour Magazine.

Alongside monogramming, the event also offered tutorials on denim customisation, and a photo booth.


The monogramming was free of charge with any denim purchase. Jeans were the most popular item to embroider, which were offered in three different postpositions. This one in particular looked very smart.

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Monogramming is a great way to personalise a pair of jeans, and is becoming more popular amongst well known high end and high street brands. The colours offered on the night were either red, or white to match the stores branding, and looked very smart in the classic London font.


Hawthorne & Heaney at Harrods

From Friday the 2nd to Sunday the 4th of October, Hawthorne and Heaney spent the weekend demonstrating luxury hand monogramming at the Hardy Amie’s concession in Harrods.

Made to Measure

The Autumn/Winter “Made to Measure” event at Harrods focused on customisation in premium men’s tailoring, showing how different items can be personalised. Hand monogramming presented by Hawthorne and Heaney is a skill that requires attention to detail, patience and practice in order to produce pieces of the high quality that was shown over the weekend.

Bespoke Service

The font was designed for the event by Hawthorne and Heaney, and looks stunning when embroidered onto one of Hardy Amie’s shirts. There was a range of different colours and positions of monogramming presented during the weekend demonstration, including this subtle white on white example of a cuff monogram.

Hardy Amies

Hand Monogram





James Long jacket embroidery by Hawthorne & Heaney

For their last (certainly not least) offering for LFW AW12/13 the designers at Hawthorne & Heaney had the pleasure of working with James Long.

One jacket topped with cornely chain stitch and military plate came out mid show giving us a taster of the finale which was a fully embroidered jacket covered in military plate, cloth of gold and solid gold smooth and rough purl.

The effect was incredible and H&H were privileged to work with a designer with the skill to use such ancient, intricate techniques with such a successful, modern application.

Thank you to GQ for the images !


London Embroidery School is an embroidery School in Islington running as part of  Hawthorne & Heaney.  They run embroidery  classes monthly in various techniques and sell specialist materials and equipment online.  They believe in the art of hand embroidery and believe that these skills and equipment to anyone who has the will and the patience to learn.  Our skilled tutors are all RSN trained, so you can learn at a professional level in a comfortable central london location.

London Embroidery School monogramming class

We are located 5 minutes from the station at Highbury & Islington and are very convenient for the buss, overground and tube.

Please email info@londonembroideryschool.com with any enquiries.


This season the studio has been busy with a particularly interesting client with an exciting brief. We had to keep the project confidential during production but are now very excited to be able to share some photographs of the outcome.

We were approached by Louise Goldin’s team on behalf of Kanye West, and asked to advise on the design and production of an embroidered ladies jacket. This would be part of Mr West’s first catwalk collection to be shown during Paris Fashion Week 2011. With a tight lead time of two weeks this project had to be undertaken in our UK studio, enabling our team to respond quickly to the necessary revisions to the design whilst maintaining the exacting standards required for such an intricate piece.

A project like this required a huge amount of preparation, for example each one of the 1028 PP32 Swarowski crystals were placed in their settings by hand by the team.

In collaboration with Mr West’s team we produced a fully embroidered, diamante and beaded jacket depicting a tiger’s jaw and head markings.

This was an exhilarating and challenging project to be involved with and we thoroughly enjoyed working with Mr West and his team.

All designs are Copyright Mr K West.