Yesterday evening I received the results of my RSN Certificate Silk Shading project: I got 85%!!! I am really happy with this mark, especially since I have found this technique the most difficult so far. I am also really happy that I managed to get this mark without frogging and restitching a large number of times. There are only tiny bits that I restitched.

In this post I will share my marks, the remarks of the assessors (italics in pink), and my reflection on them. As my project and accompanying documents are still at Hampton Court Palace I am not able to share new and more detailed photographs of my project but I will share some zooms of the original pictures.

Assessment Process

The marking in the assessment has changed since my last piece was marked. Before every criterion was marked out of 4 (with 4 being the highest).

The new marking scheme sees marks out of 5 or 10 depending on the importance of the criteria, which for instance means that the mounting has less overall importance, but the actual technique more.

The grading is as follows

  • 1/5 or 2/10: no evidence of criteria is shown / there is an insufficient amount of technique to mark
  • 2/5 or 4/10: work is of an unsatisfactory standard
  • 3/5 or 6/10: acceptable – meets criteria with an acceptable standard of technical skill
  • 4/5 or 8/10: excellent – work shows a high standard of technical skill
  • 5/5 or 10/10: outstanding: work shows a very high standard of technical skill

I will share my grades in brackets after each criterion.



First Impressions

  • The fabric is clean and there are no alien fibres on the surface or trapped in the embroidery (5/5)
  • Design marks have been covered / tacking lines have been removed and are not visible (5/5)
  • The thread has maintained its sheen and is in good condition (5/5)
  • Starting and finishing stitches are not visible (5/5)
  • The embroidered area is of a reasonable size in line with the specified dimensions (5/5)

“The fabric is clean, there are no design lines visible, the thread has maintained its sheen and is in good condition. There are no starting and finishing stitches visible. This is an ambitious size for a first piece, well done.”

Well, what can I say, full marks for the first set of criteria! I never thought I would as I always feel that I should have stopped using a worn thread a bit earlier. As I wrote in my reflection on this module, I was also worried about the condition of the silk because of the difference in the colour between the weave and weft threads. However, the assessors have not marked me down for it (I will only lose a few marks over it later on in the mounting section). That I didn’t lose any marks for visible design lines, however, is not a surprise. The paint was flaking off and it was sometimes even difficult to tell where the line ought to be!


  • The background fabric is appropriate to the design (5/5)
  • The thread shades chosen are appropriate to the design (3/5)
  • A sense of realism has been created and the embroidery has a realistic quality (4/5)
  • There is evidence of understanding of directional lines and/or shading in preparatory drawings (5/5)

“The background fabric is appropriate for the design. The shades chosen are accurate to the design but there needed to be more colours and a bridge between the purples and pinks. The green in the centre of the flower is more vibrant in the image source. The photograph has limited the realism that you have been able to achieve, as it is quite out of focus and especially the back petals, which appear flat and limited in shading. Try to ensure that your image is as crisp as possible and printed onto photographic paper to give you the best start. There is evidence of understanding of direction lines on your preparatory drawings.”

annemoon 3

The image quality is something I can really take on board for my next piece. I was quite happy with the quality at the time but in hindsight, it could have been better. I didn’t have as many different colours as I have seen other students use, however they were sufficient for me and I never got any remarks from the tutors that I needed more. Moreover, in the drawing and design class, I have taken it was mentioned that you shouldn’t go mad with the number of colours 15-20 should be sufficient for a piece like this. Also, I would like to see the colour bridge the assessors would like to see between the purples and pinks. I don’t think there is anything in between. The tutor and I raided the DMC and anchor carousels for suitable colours and this was the only possible selection.

Stitch Technique

  • The length of the stitches is appropriate to the design (10/10)
  • The stitches on the turnover are worked at the correct angle (6/10)
  • The stitch direction is at the correct angle in the remaining areas of the design (8/10)
  • The rows of long & short blend naturally into one another without appearing as blocked rows (10/10)
  • There are no awkward or obvious angle changes (8/10)
  • The stitches have an even and consistent tension (10/10)
  • The density of stitching is sufficient to cover all of the fabric within each area (8/10)
  • There are no open gaps showing fabric between overlapping areas (8/10)
  • The long & short stitch is smooth without overworked or padded areas (8/10)

“The stitch length is correct throughout your embroidery. The stitches on the turnover of petal 13 appear to be at a much more vertical angle than those in the source image. Overall the stitch direction in the petals is quite straight which has flattened the design, the rows blend into one another naturally although petal 12 has quite an awkward angle change and also appear a little overworked. The density of stitching is good although there is a small gap in petal 6. There is also a gap between petal 12 and 13. An even and consistent tension is worked throughout.”

Version 2

Even though I did lose a few marks in this section, I am amazed by the marks I did get. I found it so difficult to keep all the balls in the air at the same time (stitch length, shading, direction, not overworking, coverage etc.) so I am really happy that I got full marks for some of them. Asking one of the tutors to draw the range of stitch length appropriate for this piece on a piece of paper really helped me a lot. I am also pleasantly surprised that the assessors could only spot two holes. I was sure that even after the tutor’s and my own eagle eyes there would have been more. I can only agree with the awkward angle in petal 12. That was the most difficult petal to do because I had to stitch it in two separate sections.


  • The edges are smooth and defined (6/10)
  • The split stitch is not visible (and the correct colour thread has been used) (8/10)
  • There are no long & short stitches overlapping each other at the edges (8/10)
  • The edges of long & short stitches are defined against the colour of the chosen fabric (10/10)
  • Have the proportions of shapes been maintained and are consistent with the source image (10/10)

“The edges of the long and short are defined against the colour of the fabric. The external edges are smooth but where petals overlap these have become a little nibbled and some split stitches are visible, particularly on petal 13. There is also a little overlapping on the top edge of this petal. Proportions of the shapes have been maintained.”

Version 5

Again, really happy with these marks. So glad the assessors liked the outside edges. The internal ones I have found so difficult to get right, so definitely more practise required to get them as smooth as the outside ones.


  • The colours are appropriately blended throughout (6/10)
  • The light source is consistent across the separate elements and is replicated within the embroidery (10/10)
  • The shading has been explored to achieve a three-dimensional perspective (8/10)

“There are limited colours used in the flower, a few more shades would have helped to blend smoothly. The vibrant pink is missing from petal 8 and 13. Petal 7 has considerable more detail in the image source and needed a deeper purple to achieve the stripes in the body of the petal. A deeper pink in petal 2 would have helped to define it from petals 3 and 7, these deeper colours would also have helped to create a more three-dimensional perspective. The highlights have been replicated well within the embroidery”

Again happy with my marks, as far as I am concerned shading is the most difficult thing there is.  I do agree that darker details would have helped, but I was quite scared when stitching it to do too much and ruin it. It is a lesson to be braver with the darker/brighter colours next time!



  • The board has been cut with 90-degree corners and straight edges (5/5)
  • The design is placed straight on the board with a suitable area allowed at all edges; the fabric grain is straight to the edges of the board (5)
  • The fabric is pulled tautly across the board to remove creases, bubbles and puckering (5/5)
  • No pinpricks are visible around the edge of the board (4/5)
  • The board is not significantly bowed due to over tensioning the fabric (5/5)


  • The corners of the fabric have been folded neatly and are square and flat (3/5)
  • The sateen is on the grain, taut and clean with square corners and an even rebate (3/5)
  • The slip stitches are consistently of even size with no slip stitches or pinpricks visible (4/5)

“The board is accurately cut and the embroidery is on the grain. The silk has been pulled tightly to remove bubbles but take care car to close up all pin holes. The corners have been pulled too much which has damaged the silk. The sateen is a little loose and the corner are not square but a fairly even rebate has been achieved. The slip stitches are even in size and most have been hidden. The board has not been bowed due to over-tensioning the fabric.”

Very happy with my mounting marks for the front. I knew I had to take a hit on the pinpricks, as they could not all be removed due to the “silk problem”. I do need to give a lot of credit to the tutors on the day when I was mounting. They kept spotting a bit of the fabric, which needed to be moved along as it was going off the grain. The corner problem again is a fabric thing, and the tutors had warned me that the assessors might see it as an overworked corner and they did, despite me writing it on my self-assessment form. At least a mark lost in this section is only 0,5%. I had thought my sateen had improved but alas it has not. I might just have to go with the fact that it doesn’t like me and that the feeling is entirely mutual!


In total I got 218 out of a possible 255, which works out at 85%.

“A good first attempt at silk shading, demonstrating a good understanding of the technique. The bullion knots are very effective as stamens. Well done.”

I am really happy with my marks. I have learned so much stitching this, not only technique wise but also about my own confidence. I would like to thank all of the tutors (Sara, Kate, Becky, Jen, Shelley, Lisa, Sara-Jane and Amanda), who have taught me on this project as your encouragement, tips and tricks have helped me so much towards achieving this result. I am really happy with the comments of the assessors as they will help me to built upon what I have achieved so far and do even better next time.

Posted by:Marlous

13 replies on “My RSN Certificate Silk Shading has been assessed

  1. Well done Marlous! What a wonderful result. I think I have almost learnt more from reading your progress than I did whilst doing my own! So the tutor is of utmost importance and I will definitely be paying attention to this in the future. It’s interesting they have changed the mark scheme, but it does make sense! I think a lot of people were frustrated about the mounting being just as important as the stitching. I’m so happy for you and am glad you had such a great experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Catherine! I am glad you were still able to take something from my posts, even though you have completed yours. I have learned so much for your experience, even if it was for different reasons. I have learned how crucial a teacher/tutor is for your experience. I am considering to ask whether they would transfer my Canvaswork marks to the new marking scheme as I think it will go up a few percentage points!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the teacher is crucial, I just wish I had realised that at the time! Based on the new scheme I think I would have got almost full marks for my canvas as I only lost one mark before mounting! Thanks again for sharing and I have lots to discuss when I go SF for my shading course.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing Marlous. It is such a privilege to be able to read both the RSN assessments and your thoughts on your work. You have done a beautiful piece of Silk Shading and it is great to read that you are also willing to continue to learn from it – as you work through the feedback. I was very interested and happy to read of the new marking scheme that thankfully places a little less emphasis on the mounting. Like you I continue to struggle with the sateen fabric! Congratulations on your very good marks. Regards, Sally

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sally for lovely comments! It is why I am sharing my assessment so it will help others too. I know, was so happy to see that! Wonder if they will regrade my canvaswork as I will end up in the 90’s then!


  3. Well done – and well-deserved!

    You might find that if you play a little with watercolours you will get braver with the darks. It’s easier to explore quickly in watercolour than in stitch! The only thing to bear in mind is that studen watercolours don’t go dark enough. You need artists’ quality to get true darks and a true shade gradient… It’s helped me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. You should be so proud. You must be so proud. Well done!
    I’ve entered a couple of quilt shows and learned how valuable critiques can be. You learn so much and it really opens your eyes.
    I think you’re very brave and taking good advantage of this valuable experience. Even 3rd hand, I’m learning from your experience.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Barbara for your lovely comments! I am so glad that you are finding my posts useful and even learning something from my experiences. Entering shows or doing a course can be very daunting because of the comments you will get but they are so incredibly valuable for your learning experience.


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