Quietly composed – imagery in cloth and thread with Amanda Clayton

Sewing, embroidery and accessories

Ref: SSS10560

Suitable for all

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About this course

Enjoy the calming nature of hand stitching whilst absorbing the formality and serendipity of composition. You will work towards developing an individual series of work from your own imagery inspired by your own visual language.

Course Description

For artists, embroiderers in particular, who wish to explore observational starting points and develop personal ideas through cloth and hand stitch. With a pared down palette of natural colours and materials you will explore the techniques of cut work, darning, applique, layering and inlay using transparent materials as well as your favourite cloth qualities. You will work towards developing an individual series of work from your own imagery using your own visual language.

The course will encourage you to understand how links and connections are made with your work and yourself, it is not about producing one piece of work, but about reinforcing a work process that you will revisit constantly afterwards and it will give you the skills to develop your practice further.

You will benefit from the tutor's experience and belief that stripping work down to bare formal elements can help us to understand ourselves, especially our likes and dislikes, and develop our individual visual language. Some embroiderers feel they have to draw but do not necessarily know why. This course will show you how to ‘draw for a reason’. It will also open a dialogue of ‘what is drawing?’

Within the generous timescale, the tutor will share their philosophy about linking paper and cloth qualities, and also mark and stitch. You will have the opportunity to discuss and explore abstract and conceptual approaches by simplifying and experimenting with cloth and thread in a three dimensional form to achieve the desired qualities from your initial observations.

A feature of the Summer School is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace further opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course.

Several early evening creative sessions (5.10pm - 7pm) are planned throughout the week. Extra activities will differ this year in response to social distancing. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• Sign up early evening tutor-led drawing sessions in the garden

• Time to relax or explore in the tranquil West Dean Gardens

• Take a break from your course with some free time on Tuesday afternoon, from 3.30-5pm

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

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).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, 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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • On this course the tutor will supply most of the materials.

What students need to bring

  • Please approach the course with an open mind and be ready to embrace your own personal strengths.
  • You are asked to bring a ‘collection in a box,’ which should be contained in something like a large matchbox, cigar box, babies shoe box. Start collecting now. Your collection may be themed i.e. all the same colour or shape, or totally random. Again the tinest item can be used from a natural form, receipt, pencil stub, lace fragment, stationary, rice, olive stone, dead fly, watch pieces, old jewellery….but do consider the aesthetics and whether you actually like them! It is amazing how many will fit. It could be a collection very personal to you, that belonged to a relative or has a sentimental significance.
  • Please bring any of the materials listed later, if you have them, and in addition:
  • Bring your personal scrap bag which hopefully will have in it some lighter weight as well as medium weight cloth.
  • Consider bringing chiffon, organza, habotai, net, velvet, fragments of lace. Maybe some old cloth samples, hankies or sentimental clothing pieces, prints. Something that may be personal to you. These can be the tiniest bits. Neutral but some may have colour.
  • You will also need some larger pieces of cloth about 40cm x 40cm to include your favourite qualities and some transparent ones if you have. All neutral colours.
  • A selection of threads from fine to thicker. Neutral palette
  • A basic sewing kit. Pins, needles, embroidery scissors, (small tambour frame if you like to use), tape measure, ruler, pencil and sharpener, paper scissors, cloth scissors, tacking thread, pen to mark cloth.
  • A few sheets of graph paper A4 or 40cm x 40cm.
  • A few sheets of tracing paper 40cm x 40cm.
  • A few sheets of cartridge paper 40cm x 40cm.
  • Masking tape/6B,4B,2B pencils/putty rubber/scalpel/white candle

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • We have a generously stocked craft shop, which opens daily from 8.30am–2pm.
  • Some hand sewing essentials, needles, pins
  • Un-dyed silk organza, silk hatobai fabrics
  • Notebook / graphite pencil / 6b pencil / putty rubber / masking tape
  • Available from tutor:
  • Additional materials can brought directly from the tutor
  • To supplement the material kit supplied above and your own cloth you may also want to explore other qualities of cloth which the tutor will bring for you to purchase at cost price at 40 x 40 cm size.


Amanda Clayton

Having trained in Embroidery Amanda is still obsessed by the purity of thread and cloth. She is now working freelance after an enjoyable and satisfying few decades working on Art Foundation courses. She enjoys sharing her practice with others and is particularly interested in the way we all respond to similar elements with our own visual language.


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

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