Director | Designer | Lead tutor

Helen McCook

Helen McCook is an artisan hand embroiderer, designer, teacher, published author and historian specialising in all aspects of traditional and contemporary hand embroidery and embellishment.

Highly trained and with a wealth of knowledge and experience, she ensures that every commission and task is completed to the highest possible standard.

Helen's clients can be assured that her unique skill set combined with discretion, efficiency and commitment, leads to smoothly run projects yielding the highest possible level of results, within pre-arranged time and financial boundaries.


  • BA Hons in Printed & Dyed Textiles with Non-European Art History in 2000 from the University of Central England.
  • Graduate of the Royal School of Needlework’s three year traditional hand embroidery apprenticeship scheme at Hampton Court Palace with 92% Distinction level in 2003.
  • PTTL’s/ DTTL’s teaching qualification from NEW College via the University of Warwick 2011.

Job Roles & Commissions

  • Head of Textiles and Costume for Bonhams Auction House. Having handled a very exciting record breaking sale of an 18th Century court mantua dress, she decided to leave the post after three and a half years
  • Atelier/Production Manager for Hand & Lock, running their fashion and interiors embroidery workrooms working with clients such as Swarovski, Kate Moss, Topshop, Vintage Topshop, Gucci, Asprey, John Stefanidis, Tom Ford, The Royal Opera House, Burberry, Bamfords, Adidas and Ben de Lisi.
  • Helen went freelance in April 2008 and has been working on a range of projects including teaching, lecturing, designing, making, exhibiting and consultancy work on valuing, handling and displaying antique textiles.
  • Images of garments displaying her work for fashion companies have been used in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Elle Collections and Hello Magazine.
  • She teaches for the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace and Rugby branch on day classes, Certificate and Diploma courses & runs the Royal School of Needlework Scotland satellite centre based in Glasgow and has also taught, lectured and assessed for them in their American branch based in San Francisco and Williamsburg and in Toronto, Canada and on their Degree level course at Headquarters. She taught at their USA summer school in 2018 and will be returning in 2020. Helen designed and presented the online blackwork course for the RSN.
  • Helen travels Britain extensively teaching and lecturing to adult education groups such as the Embroiderers Guild and private textile art groups. She has also taught at college, and University level. Helen has been an associate lecturer for the National Gallery in Edinburgh, the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh and The National Portrait Gallery, London.
  • Helen has displayed work in the Kitagawa Gallery in Tokyo, Japan as part of the British/Japanese Council celebration of 150 years trade. Her work has also been exhibited at Alexandra Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Shugborough Hall, Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park. She has also had solo exhibitions at The Old Friary (Lichfield), The Old High House (Stafford) and The Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Edinburgh).
  • Amongst many other projects, Helen was commissioned to design and work three hangings for Hampton Court Palace, to design a large scale set of hassocks for a private chapel and to create a range of costume embellishments and embroideries for West End (London), Broadway (New York) Australian and German theatre productions.
  • She also wrote ‘The Beginners Guide to Goldwork' book for the Royal School of Needlework which was published Autumn 2012 by Searchpress and has been translated into French in 2014.
  • In 2014, Helen was appointed as the first artist for educative initiative (artist in Residence) for The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh working with all aspects of the community but chiefly with visually impaired members of the public recreating embroidery motifs from 16/17/18th Century portraits to enable greater understanding through touch. This was a great honour and Helen’s work was described as ‘enchanting’ during feedback.
  • Helen also had the privilege of being a member of the Royal School of Needlework team which worked on Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, veil and shoes.
  • She has pieces of work in private collections and galleries worldwide including items now in the British Royal Collection.
  • Helen was commissioned to create an aesthetically sympathetic piece of embroidered textiles to complete a piece of furniture designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh utilising the original watercolour, thus completing the furniture as per his vision for the first time. Described by 78 Derngate (a Mackintosh Museum) as a ‘re-creation of Mackintosh’s masterpiece’.
  • In 2019 she was awarded the National Needlecraft Awards ‘Designer of the Year’ for embroidery/tapestry and became a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.
  • Helen was commissioned to create a piece of artwork reflecting of a piece of antique embroidered textiles from the Norwegian national collection and then filmed to be incorporated into the opening of the new National ‘Super’ Museum in Oslo, Norway (opening in 2020).
  • Helen moved studios into the historic Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham in 2018 and set up the Traditional Textiles School.
  • In 2019 Helen became a regular guest designer on Sewing Quarter television. In 2020 she has appeared with Natasha McCarty on Natasha Makes.