Tapestry weaving – the basics with Philip Sanderson

Ref: SWE31353

Location: West Dean
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Places available

About this course

Learn the process of woven tapestry. After warping up, learn the basic principles of weaving, using different yarns, blending and combining colour to create shapes and lines, and using techniques to give texture, such as wrapping, knotting and tufting.

Course Description

Learn the process of flat woven tapestry, taking inspiration from a favourite image. After warping up a small frame loom, you will understand the basic principles of weaving using different yarns, blending and combining colour to create shapes and lines.

This course will examine the basic process of woven tapestry. The main technique will be flat woven tapestry.

After setting up the warps, we will begin a detailed examination of the process of tapestry weaving as a way of understanding how the materials work together to create a woven surface. You can select a simple colour scheme for your tapestry; this will also enable you to familiarise yourself with the process of combining colour and technique to create the right look for further weaving projects.

Initially, we will begin with traditional materials of a cotton warp with woollen weft. Once you are familiar with the basic principles of weaving, you will be able to use different yarns in the weft, and are welcome to bring any yarns that you specially wish to use.

Enjoy demonstrations of techniques at various stages of the course. You will work individually, with a group evaluation at the end of the course.

Topics covered include:

• Setting up a simple frame, how to put on the warp ready for weaving.

• Construction of the woven surface, warp/weft thicknesses.

• Basic techniques: creating shapes, lines, blending and shading.

• Consideration of technical aspects, warp setting, weft, cartoon production, use of specific materials and techniques.

By the end of the course, you will also be able to begin to look at ways of developing your own personal language within the medium. The samples produced are intended to be used as a future reference for when working independently.


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 cost of warp yarn and weft yarn for sampling supplied is included.
  • Small weaving frames are available for use and can be purchased at the end of the course if required.

What students need to bring

  • Any yarns/materials you would like to experiment with
  • A notebook and pencil
  • A good pair of scissors
  • Any other weaving tools you have and wish to bring (bobbins etc.)
  • One or two G clamps (these can also be borrowed from the workshop)
  • There will also be an opportunity to purchase tapestry yarn from specialist supplier Weavers Bazaar, who will visit during the course. They have a range of beautiful colours.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Scissors
  • You have the option to purchase your weaving frame at the end of the course, the cost is approximately £15

Additional information

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


Philip Sanderson

Subject Tutor - Tapestry, Fine Art
Studio Leader - West Dean Tapestry Studio

Philip Sanderson is Leader of the Professional Tapestry Studio and a Subject Tutor on the MFA in Fine Art. He is also the Tutor for the Tapestry Foundation Diploma and a short course tutor. During his time at West Dean Philip has translated the work of a number of artists into large-scale tapestries including Marta Rogoyska, John Hubbard, Tracy Emin, and Eva Rothschild. 


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

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Suitable for all

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.