Poetry of stitch – mark-making with your sewing machine with Christine Chester

Sewing, embroidery and accessories

Ref: S3D12051

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About this course

Stitching is usually the final layer on a piece of work that we enjoy the most. It is essentially all about mark-making. Learn to extend your repertoire of stitches as you explore ways of machine stitching that will extend your language of marks .

Course Description

Stitching, whether by hand or machine, is usually the final layer on a piece of work that we enjoy the most. Stitching can be meditative, exciting, focussing, textural, colourful and is essentially all about mark-making. Learn to move away from your usual routine of using the stitches with which you are most familiar, and look at ways of working with the sewing machine that will extend your language of marks.

We will explore the character and the weight of the stitching that we are using and how to apply that to printed work so that the stitch either enhances the printed layer; or creates focus within the print. We will particularly explore your machine’s potential through use of tension, straight and swing stitches, and the occasional use of an accessory or two.

You will be encouraged to bring fabrics you may have made on other courses, but as you may not have these, the course also includes making experimental surfaces that you can use for your stitch samples. There will be an emphasis on trying lots of small sample pieces before starting to work on a larger, more considered piece of work. You will also learn how to mount these samples to show them to their best effect.
You will also use some inspirational texture photos to help focus your ideas about stitching – a range of surfaces of rust/lichen/moss/peeling paint/rock.

By the end of the course you will be able to create a wide variety of marks using your sewing machine, and can use that knowledge to interpret printed marks, embedding your stitched layer into your hand dyed and printed fabrics.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


The use of some silk paints and acrylic paints is included in the course fee.

What students need to bring

Sewing machine + range of extra needles (preferably Microtex sharps, quilting needles or the titanium topstitch needles in sizes 70 – 90). College sewing machines are also available for use if required (please email us to reserve one: bookingsoffice@westdean.ac.uk).
Instruction manual (essential) and all accessories that you have for your swing machine, including an embroidery/darning foot
A few fabrics previously dyed (monoprinted/space dyed/tray dyed/breakdown printed) these don’t need to be larger than 20 x 20” and could be smaller. Bring any you have but the tutor can supply some for a small fee.
1m white cotton fabric /calico or similar
Stitch & tear – about 1m
Machine embroidery spring tension hoop (7”) – essential
Small piece of bondaweb – about half metre
If you have any acrylic inks or silk paints please bring a couple along with 2/3 foam brushes – if you don’t have any the tutor will provide some for general use
A few used large brown envelopes or a small roll of brown paper
A few pieces of A4 or A3 cartridge paper
Pencil (HB) and fineliner pen
Fabric scissors, paper scissors and good pair of small embroidery scissors
6-8 photographs of texture printed on good quality paper (100gsm or photo paper)
Machine threads to co-ordinate and contrast relating to the colours on your photographs – include some metallics, some variegated and some plain.
A few hand embroidery threads in same colours as your machine threads
Buttonhole thread in any colour (or a good strong thread)
Offcut or small piece of mountboard – at least 20cm square or similar

Available to buy

Available from shop:
Machine threads
Acrylic inks

Available from tutor:
Printed fabric for final project if you don’t have any you have printed yourself

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Christine Chester

Christine Chester is an artist and teacher working from a textile studio in Eastbourne, having previously worked for 20 years in the Adult and FE sector. After being accepted into several juried competitions, Christine has a solo gallery at Festival of Quilts this year, alongside working to complete her Masters degree.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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