Hand sewn images – developing your own voice with Janet Bolton

Ref: S2D33619

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About this course

Gain confidence in the value of your ideas and concentrate on developing personal inspirations and narratives . Explore the freedom of st i tching by hand, and directly with materials.

Course Description

Janet will illustrate how diverse ideas can be linked to create a unique and personal piece of work.

The main aim of this course is to give you the confidence to trust in the value of your own ideas. We will explore any working preferences and look into developing new ones to nurture a personal voice. The emphasis will be on individual tuition, although many ideas will be opened up in general discussion throughout the course. Please give some thought, before you come, about ideas you want to develop on the course.

The linking together of very diverse personal likes and dislikes will be discussed. These may have been gathered from works executed in many different mediums. By looking carefully, we can see if we can find any recurring links, sometimes these can be found to range right back to childhood delights and enthusiasms. We will also follow the inspirations and working methods of various well known artists.

On a practical level, the emphasis will be on what you choose to place where within a composition. This activity will be the one that will be allowed to take the most time, allowing the enjoyment of the journey to pervade the whole course. Practical help will be give by demonstrating the many ways in which this can be achieved using the most simple of hand sewing techniques; no knowledge of particular and precise embroidery or quilting techniques are needed. The selection of materials with particular qualities suitable for different aspects of the construction will be given.

Janet will also demonstrate her particular way of cutting out and sewing down each element, taking into account its position within the composition. She will describe how this is the stage at which the final ‘drawing requirements’ will be made, including the use of stitch as a drawn line, or to add texture. She will also demonstrate how your original idea can be allowed to change, develop and take on a life of its own from beginning to the end, how the composition and construction can develop together hand in hand, exciting to the very last stitch.

The course will end with suggestion and practical advice on how to present your work. This will be followed by a general discussion on how your ideas have changed and developed throughout the course. Most students will complete at least one piece, but this is not a priority.

Course Materials


  • A small piece of calico is provided .

What students need to bring

  • General sewing kit (i.e. pins, needles, scissors etc)
  • Fabrics – as wide a variety as possible of small pieces of cottons, silks, polycottons, fine wools – the important factor being that they should not be too heavy in weight (thin and fine enough to turn under without too much bulk).
  • Coloured threads for hand sewing and sewing machine reels, cotton or polyester
  • Approximately ½ metre of curtain lining, calico or similar material for overall
  • Any buttons, beads, broken necklaces, etc. or small decorative items you may wish to incorporate
  • Any pictures with simple imagery relating to your personal sources of inspiration

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Coloured threads/machine sewing thread (a limited selection)
  • Calico if needed.

Additional information

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


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)

General Information


Janet Bolton

Janet Bolton exhibits and teaches worldwide. She has work in both public and private collections, and has published books for both adults and children, the latest being Fabric Pictures: a Workshop with Janet Bolton. She is a member of Contemporary Applied Arts.


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

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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 advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). 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.