Project Florrie/Hospital Heroes

The Hospital Heroes pieces can be viewed in our 'Chairs Challenge' Competition section

Project Florrie Brief for members

The Royal Derby Hospital exhibition from March 2021 will be themed “HOSPITAL HEROES”.

All pieces should be made to fit a canvas of A4 (8” x 11.5” / 210mm x 297mm); A3 (11.5” x 16.5” / 297mm x 410mm)or A2 (16.5” x 23” / 410mm x 594mm)size. (Canvases will be made available when we are able to meet again, as will mirror plates for mounting).

You are invited to produce a piece inspired by the theme “Hospital Heroes”. Your subject may be anything you wish, to pay tribute to any or all hospital staff, present day or retrospectively. It may be related to your feelings about the Covid 19 outbreak, celebrate hospital workers in their general roles, or reflect on earlier medical heroes.

The choice of techniques and stitches is entirely your own.

We are suggesting that all pieces be on a background of pale greenor pale blue(think the colour of hospital scrubs!). This may be the ground fabric you stitch on or you may paint or fabric cover your canvas before mounting your embroidery on the canvas.

The embroidery you produce does not have to completely fill your chosen canvas size, but it should not overhang the edges, although you may of course mount your work by leaving a margin of fabric to fold over the edges and staple at the back.

  • No dangly bits, loose pieces or sharp pieces please.

  • Work should not protrude more than 1” from the front of the canvas.

  • All work must be secured to the canvas so it cannot be detached by passers-by.

  • As work will not be under glass please be aware that some people may touch the work as well as look at it!

A few suggestions of historical figures who might inspire you: (In no particular order!)

  • Edward Jenner

  • Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

  • Edith Cavell

  • Alexander Fleming

  • Christaan Barnard

  • Marie Curie

  • Louis Pasteur

  • John Snow

  • Mary Seacole

You do not have to do a portrait of any of these heroes, your design can reflect what they did in whatever way you choose.

If you have already elected to produce a piece inspired by Florence Nightingale please continue. Canvases will be made available to you and the suggestion for background colour are the same as above.

The original Project Florrie plan revolved around designs based on Medals & Memorabilia to be worked by hospital staff.

Florence Nightingale was awarded 3 medals in her lifetime:

  • The British Red Cross Medal (of which she was the first recipient),

  • The Order of St John, and

  • The Order of Merit.

The Florence Nightingale Medal was created in her honour and is still presented for the highest achievements in nursing.

Furthermore, all Schools of Nursing used to award their graduates with a badge on qualification. Both the DRI; Derby City and Burton hospitals had schools of nursing and Derby also had a school of midwifery.

Whilst we hope eventually to be able to engage staff in stitching these designs, we realize this may be some time off, and are inviting members to work these designs too.

We are creating a collection of designs from these medals and badges. If you would like to work one of these designs rather than create your own please contact Lesley.

The designs can be viewed by clicking on this link: Medal & Badge designs then clicking in the box which will appear.

Your chosen design will then be posted out to you. You may interpret the design any way you please.

All pieces will be counted as entries in the 2020 Chairs’ Challenge. Please submit a photograph of your work to Eve by 10th December so they can be shared and voted on.

The final deadline for all work to be completed, stretched and mounted is 31st January. If we still cannot meet by then arrangements will be made to collect your work.


For those who have not taken part in a hospital exhibition before, being asked to mount your work on a canvas may seem a little alien. The reason we ask that all work be mounted this way is that it gives the final display a sense of cohesion and uniformity without constricting your imagination too much. The branch will supply you with the canvas size of your choice. You have already received the brief for the exhibition so you know that you have a choice of A4; A3 or A2. We will be collating requests and ordering canvases in the next few months and aiming to get them delivered to you as soon as we have them.

When you embark on your design you need to consider from the outset, not only the size of the finished piece and what size canvas you will need, but also how you want to mount your work once complete as this will have a bearing on the size of cloth you work on.

If you have never mounted work on an artists’ canvas before you may be mystified as to how to go about it.

Before you mount your finished embroidery onto your canvas you will need to stretch your work. A tutorial on how to do this can be.

  1. Cover the whole canvas:

Cut your background fabric large enough to fold around the back of the canvas. Centre embroidery your background fabric so it will fit the final canvas size leaving a hem all the way round.


Once stitched, centre your embroidery on the canvas then turn the whole thing over and lay flat. Start in the centreof one side and staple to the back of the canvas. Staple the centre of side directlyopposite, pulling gently to ensure there are no wrinkles or bulges on the front. Work your way out towards the corners, (folding in the corners neatly before you get there, “hospital corners” work well), always stapling first one side then the side directly oppositeto keep the tension balanced and prevent wrinkles or bulges forming. When completed staple the other 2 sides in exactly the same way.


Alternatively, the more traditional way is to lace your fabric to the canvas. The principle is the same as stapling: start at the centre and work out to the corners, but use a stout thread and needle to create a zig-zag of threads across the back of the canvas and hold the fabric taut over the canvas.

You may wish to place some padding between your work and the canvas for a softer and more raised effect. Try not to make the amount of fabric on the back too thick as we will need to apply mirror plates to the back of the canvas so the work can be screwed to the wall (for security).

2. Slips

Stitch your design onto a piece of fabric, or break your design into separate elements and work them separately. Once finished, stretch your individual slips,then cut them out leaving a small hem. Turn this hem under and slip-stitch (tiny anchoring stitches placed so as not to be seen) your slip into place onto a background fabric large enough to overlap the canvas and finish as described in Part 1. If your design has a distinct outline to the elements you can hide your slip-stitching by couching a cord, stranded cotton or metal thread around the edge of the slip once it is attached to the background fabric.

3. Island Mounting

This is when you attach your embroidery to the canvas without covering the whole canvas.

You may wish to paint your canvas with a background colourbefore you mount your work.

Cut a piece of mounting card (use double thickness for a more pronounced effect), to the outline shape of your finished embroidery.

Stretch your embroidery, then cut a hem around your work and wrap over your mounting card. Secure with lacing (as above), or glue the hem to the board. This can then be glued*to your canvas.

*A couple of tips about using glue:

Remember if you choose to glue your embroidery directly to the canvas without any mounting board, you will need to choose a glue which dries clear and apply it judiciously so it does not soak through and mark the front of your embroidery. Use a glue which will give a strong fix, as we do not want work to become detached from the mount in transit or whilst on display.

It is also possible to stitch your work to the canvas.

This method can be used either on its own or as an additional measure when gluing*. If you choose to stitch your piece directly to the canvas by slip-stitching all the way round, you may wish to consider using a cord or braid to edge your piece. This will make disguising your stitches easier, and be part of the decorative embroidery. Rememberif you choose this method you will need to make your embroidery fit within the stretchers around the edge of the canvas, or you will find your needle hitting the solid edge of the frame, making it impossible to place your stitch where you want it. This will leave a border of canvas on display surrounding your finished piece. You can also stitch directly onto the canvas, but this is best done for small additional details rather than trying to stitch a whole design as canvas is very hard on the fingers and needles to stitch.

The other way of stitching your work to the canvas is to use individual anchoring stitches. Take a strong (or multiple stranded thread) in a colour from your embroidery at the point you wish to anchor, (so it won’t show) and a large needle: Push the needle straight down through embroidery and canvas, and bring it back up again up to ½” away. The distance will be determined by your embroidery. Suit the length of stitch so it won’t show. Now pull the thread right through the 1st down stitch and leave about 4” dangle on the back of the canvas. From the top push the needle back through the first hole (or thereabouts), make sure you have left no slack on top, but don’t pull so tight as to wrinkle your embroidery. Cut the thread off at the back again leaving 4” dangling. Now knot the 2 ends together to secure the embroidery to the canvas. Reef knots are particularly good for this. Repeat as many times as you wish until you are confident the piece is secure (minimum 4), changing thread colour as necessary and placing strategically so the anchors don’t show from the front.

It may not be necessary to use mounting card for the island method if you have used a technique where you can bind in your edges as you go e.g. canvaswork, or if the piece has an integral hem as with patchwork pieces, or a decorative hemmed border.