Slow textiles – natural dyeing, piecing and hand-stitching with Claire Wellesley-Smith

Art textiles

Ref: S4D12005

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2 places available

About this course

Taking West Dean Gardens and the surrounding landscape as inspiration, explore ideas that evoke a quality or sense of place informed by specific location. You will use found marks to inspire simple mordant prints, collect local plants to make dyes and use piecing and hand stitching, while working both outside and in the studio.

Course Description

This site-specific workshop will use the landscape and gardens around West Dean as inspiration. Using found marks to inspire simple mordant prints, local plants collected to make dyes, piecing and hand stitch, you will explore ideas that evoke a quality or sense of place informed by this unique location.

This workshop is suitable for all levels of experience and will include time spent both inside and outside the studio and is inspired by contemporary concerns about sustainability and creative textiles.

You can expect to explore process in a relaxed supportive environment. Claire will encourage you to develop your own work through observation and experimentation.

During the course you can expect to:

• Learn simple natural dyeing techniques which could be used at home.

• Make connections between cloth, seasons and colour.

• Begin to understand the pleasure of slow stitching and making a real connection with a piece of work.


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 course fee includes a pack of essential materials supplied by the tutor for the course including dyestuffs, fabrics that are pre-mordanted and ready to dye, naturally dyed threads and wool grounds for stitching.

What students need to bring

  • Small pieces of fabric that hold special meaning for you to incorporate with your stitching
  • Simple sewing kit including scissors
  • A notebook/sketchbook
  • A camera for recording your processes
  • Apron, outdoor clothing and footwear
  • Please bring with you a textile that you are happy to share a story about with the group. This could be something that you have made or a family textile (it will not be included in the work you make during the course).

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Basic sewing supplies e.g. needles, embroidery scissors
  • Sketchbooks
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open-toes or sandals).


Claire Wellesley-Smith

Claire Wellesley-Smith is an artist and author. She has an MA in Visual Arts and specialises in slow textile processes including the use of natural dyes and hand stitch. She has many years experience of teaching adults textile-based processes as part of long-term projects. Her book, Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art was published by Batsford in 2015.


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

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

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