The Needlework Development in Scotland Scheme was started in 1934 to promote needlework as an artform. From the very beginning, the Scheme was a collaboration between art and industry, being sponsored by J & P Coats Ltd, suppliers of thread.
The Scheme expanded into the rest of the UK during the 1950s. Pieces from the Scheme's collection were exhibited widely, including at the Festival of Britain in 1951. When the scheme ended in 1961, the collection of over 3,500 items was distributed among universities, colleges and museums.
The RGU Collections hold 112 examples of predominantly European needlework from the collection. However, there are also pieces from places as diverse as Mexico, Paraguay, Tunisia and Zanzibar.