Fragile forms – in cloth and handstitch with Amanda Clayton

Sewing, embroidery and accessories

Ref: SSS11650

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Places available

About this course

Explore the qualities of cloth and hand stitch in a neutral palette with a particular emphasis on 'flat to form'. Experiment and take risks with bias, shaping, construction, weight, tension, repetition and more.

Course Description

The course will start with some set tasks to introduce different strategies for starting to make more three-dimensional work. This will have an emphasis on experimentation and personal interpretation.

You will learn some of the tutor’s signature techniques where relevant to help with these tasks, including inlay, over layered piecing, seams, darts, pintucks, trailing and wiring. We will be working with hand stitch and neutrals throughout which will help to simplify your decision making and choices.

There will be plenty of time for your own work to develop from your personal preferences and strengths. Critical analysis involving what you have liked and why, will be encouraged. You will be introduced where appropriate to some contextual and historical references to inform and support your decision making.

The course is not about producing one finished piece. The six days will allow you to experiment and take risks. Instead of one resolved piece of work you will have lots of ideas to develop back in your studio, as well as discovering a little more about yourself and your preferred work processes.

The course content will encourage you to respond to primary sources.

You will understand the process of developing concept, imagery and qualities.

You will work with the inherent qualities of cloth using hand stitch as a functional element.

You will have the opportunity to rediscover techniques in a new context especially the three-dimensions. Understanding and using your own visual language is a constant during the course.

All of the above skills are generic elements that can be used in anything that you do in the future. The most precious commodity an artist can have is time and the Summer School gives you that.

Summer School highlights:

The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course. 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

• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)

• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio

• A celebration dinner on the last evening, with a surrealist theme inspired by Salvador Dalí, who was one of West Dean founder, Edward James’ friends and collaborators. (Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.)

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

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully. A detailed timetable will be given to all students on arrival.

(Please note that plans may be subject to change depending on GOV.UK guidance at the time.)


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 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 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

  • To make your work even more personal and depending on the pace that you work it will be useful to bring the following:
  • A spherical natural form, a fragile dried flower of some kind and six natural forms that interest you.
  • Any qualities of neutral cloth that you have. These can be any size or weight and may include your scrap bag which may contain lace, sentimental fragments, coloured scraps.
  • The tutor will supply larger pieces of silk crepeline, organdie and organza as part of your course fee, but will also bring some 40cm x 40cm pieces for you to buy if you work fast and run out (or bring what you already have)
  • Bring any neutral threads that you may have but again the tutor will supply 20 different qualities as part of the course fee.
  • Please bring the following equipment:
  • Paper scissors, cloth scissors, embroidery scissors
  • Box of dressmaking pins
  • Sewing needles, cloth pen, sewing kit
  • 12” ruler
  • Masking tape, small stapler, scalpel, pencil and notebook, small cutting board
  • Small wire cutters.
  • Digital camera if you have one.
  • A current sketchbook.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Sketchbook, rulers, scalpels, and pencils, pins,
  • Basic sewing requisites including pins, needles and scissors
  • Available from tutor:
  • Qualities of cloth (optional)
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


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.

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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