Sewing, embroidery and accessories

Machine embroidery – inspired by colour and pattern with Helen Banzhaf

Ref: SWE10655

Suitable for all

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Places available

About this course

Working directly from objects that inspire you or Helen's personal collection of Art Deco ceramics, lose yourself in colour, pattern and machine embroidery with mercerized cotton thread.

Course Description

This course is ideal if you are looking to create original and personal pieces of decorative textiles, and understand and explore the free machine embroidery technique.

You will experiment firstly with small samples of machine embroidering styles, in order to build the confidence to consider these when planning and developing your individual designs. The samplings can be collected and stored for future reference. The tutor will demonstrate good practice, ensuring that working with the Bernina sewing machines is a safe and productive means of working with areas of dense stitching.

A range of ceramics from the tutor’s personal Art Deco collection will be available to inspire the you. Examples of the tutor’s design ideas/drawings/plans will be available to show how these have evolved into stitched and finished textile works. You will see how the embroideries are finished so that they are ready for presenting and exhibiting. This will give an idea of the importance of precision and attention to detail.

You might bring your own objects to use as inspiration for your designs. Some two-dimensional imagery will also be available for you, on which to base your designs, to enable you to explore and to experiment with your own decorative ideas.

Whether you are getting embroidery design ideas from your own objects or from the Art Deco collection, the tutor will work with you to encourage and to establish a very personal textile design. The imagery, the colour choices, and the use of pattern will all be considered to create an embroidered piece that is a reflection of your very personal contribution, style and design.

At the end of the course, you will have had the opportunity to develop your designs, to have experimented with the technique and to have confidently produced a finished and presentable textile piece. You will be inspired and equipped with the knowledge to continue experimenting with this enjoyable and rewarding art form.


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, 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


  • 50cm of calico (medium weight), a supply of a range of coloured Coates cotton threads, replacement size 90 machine needles.
  • Some A3 cartridge paper,
  • HB pencils.
  • On this course the tutor will supply the wooden embroidery hoops, plus an assortment of ceramics as inspiration, examples of her own textile work.

What students need to bring

  • Your sewing machine with a darning foot if you have one and your extension table (if you wish to use a College sewing machine, please email us to reserve one – email:
  • You might want to bring objects or some photographic or drawn images to use as subject matter. Also maybe some drawing/design ideas already prepared. These are not essential.
  • The following are available in the shop but you might bring your own – paper, an HB pencil, a sketch book, colouring pencils …. for designing.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • We have a generously stocked craft shop, which opens daily from 8.30am–2pm.
  • For any materials you need to purchase from the shop, we suggest you do so during the first morning of your course, after having discussed with your tutor.
  • Coates cotton threads
  • Sewing machine needles
  • Drawing materials
  • Tracing paper


Helen Banzhaf

Helen Banzhaf studied at Central St Martins and she is a practising textile artist. Her work is featured in books and magazine articles, and she regularly exhibits both here and abroad.

Helen is a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists, the Society of Designer Craftsmen and the Crafts Council Index.


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

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