World leader in embroidery education – Women in Business

March 7, 2020 BY

Alison Cole teaches stumpwork and goldwork embroidery all over the world.

Tucked away in the bush in Invermay is needlework business Alison Cole Embroidery


ALISON has been teaching stumpwork and goldwork embroidery techniques for over 20 years. Two years ago moved back to Ballarat and opened her studio shop which is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Aside from being a home base, the studio shop is a working space where design work is created and where kits are packaged and shipped around the world. It’s also a specialist shop of threads, fabrics, books and accessories for fine embroidery and a haven for lovers of the craft at studio classes and retreats.

Goldwork is the sort of embroidery that you see on church vestments and on military uniforms; hand embroidered using gold plated threads. This style of work is also used in haute couture fashion and sometimes finds its way onto regular clothing and shoes.

The studio shop is open Tuesday and Thursday.

While demonstrating at craft fairs Alison regularly hears people say that they don’t like stitching with stranded metallic thread, and neither does she!  These threads are couched onto the surface with a polyester thread which is much easier to handle.

Alison is one of a handful of tutors worldwide that specialise in this form of embroidery and is in demand to teach around the world. Last year she taught in Canada, UK and the USA as well as around Australia. While away, her husband Steve looks after the shop and processes mail orders.

Stumpwork is a three-dimensional form of embroidery that has its history in English domestic embroidery from the seventeenth century. These days the embroidery packs a punch with some designs being raised four to five centimetres off the background, demanding attention.

Self-taught to start with, Alison joined the Embroiderers Guild and took as many classes as she could.  After her passion became her business as well, she has travelled the world to study the artform, taking lessons in England and France as well as spending time researching lost techniques in museums around the world.

Alison has written five books on her specialties, one of which won a gold medal at the Independent Publisher Awards in the USA in 2017. Her titles are available through local needlework shops and independent bookshops as well as her own studio shop.