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early career
FREEHAND MACHINE EMBROIDERY COURSES WITH ALISON
Courses available for Organisers
I have over 30 years experience as a tutor and regularly teach the Embroiderers Guild and other textile groups all over the UK and abroad.

These are the courses I can offer, if you would like to book me as a tutor for your group please contact me for details of costs and my availability

Email: alison@alisonholt.com

Tel: 01691 653118

Also available :

A PowerPoint presentation on the development of my textile art: Machine Embroidered Landscapes - a 30 year Journey (approx 1.1/2hrs)

 An English Country Garden
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Create a painted and stitched picture of flowers within a garden setting and explore the painterly elements of free hand machine embroidery. We will outline a design on silk with resist and paint a background with silk dyes. The course will cover free hand machine embroidery techniques for a variety of garden flowers and foliage including delphiniums, aliums, achillea and verbascum. We will be covering aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, aerial perspective and linear perspective, colour mixing in paint and thread, creating texture and the use of light and shade

2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Students with some experience

 Colourful Landscapes
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Inspired by the countryside at its most vibrant, students will use a combination of silk painting and freehand machine stitching to create a colourful landscape picture.
Basing the design on photographs of scenes such as wild flower meadows, fields of poppies, blue linseed or yellow oilseed rape students will learn silk painting techniques to form a base for the stitching.
Through tutor demonstrations and one to one tuition you will learn a range of textures and marks made with just straight stitch and zigzag to creates texture and definition to your picture.
We explore how to create a balanced composition, achieve depth and perspective, colour mix in paint and thread and the use of light and shade.


1, 2, 3 or 4 days    suitable for: Beginners and Improvers

 Crashing Waves and Sea Spray
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Inspired by dramatic coastlines with the splash and spray of waves crashing against the rocks. Using paint and stitch we will create the effects of smooth, craggy or glistening wet rocks and the movement and texture of sea spray.
We will outline a design on silk with resist; paint a background with silk paints and apply a range of embroidery techniques. Students will work from photographs of their choice or from a selection provided by the tutor.
We will be covering aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, aerial perspective and linear perspective, colour mixing in paint and in thread. Investigate the way texture and colour creates depth and perspective and how to draw with stitches.


2 or 3 days    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Dancing in the Breeze
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Inspired by dancing cow parsley and tall poppies in a summer breeze, create a painted and stitched landscape.

We will explore the painterly elements of free hand machine embroidery. Learn how to paint skies and distant hills to give depth to your picture. Learn stitch techniques for trees, hedges, and foreground details including grass, poppies, cow parsley and wild flowers.

We will outline a design on silk with resist; paint a background with silk paints and apply a range of embroidery techniques. Students will work from photographs of landscapes of their choice or from a selection provided by the tutor.

We will be covering aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, aerial perspective and linear perspective, colour mixing in paint and in thread. Investigate the way texture and colour creates depth and perspective and how to draw with stitches.

1, 2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Dramatic Skies
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An embroidered picture with painted and stitched detail incorporating colourful sunsets and stormy clouds.
Working on silk, using photographs as a starting point you will create a design. You will paint a background and then apply a range of embroidery stitches to represent clouds in all their wonderful shapes and colours to complete the picture.
We will be covering aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, creating depth and perspective, colour mixing in paint and thread, creating texture and the use of light and shade


1, 2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Etched in Frost: A Winter Scene
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A landscape transformed by frost and ice is the inspiration for this course. Students will work from photographs and we will explore paint and embroidery techniques discovering ways to create the effects of frost and winter mist on landscapes, woodlands and foliage. With a limited palette and the elements etched in frost the imagery is dramatic.
Working on white silk, you will outline a design with resist or gutta, paint a background with silk paints and then apply a range of embroidery techniques to add textures and detail to complete the picture.


2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Students with some experience

 Flowers and Foliage
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With a range of garden flowers as the inspiration students will experiment with painting on silk in an impressionistic style to create a base for machine stitching. Drawing with straight stitch and zigzag stitch, machine embroidery techniques will be explored for the flowers. Combining the two elements we will produce images with colour, depth and definition.
Beginners can produce several small pieces which will make wonderful embroidered pictures or cards. Alternatively a more experienced student can work on a larger more complex close up of a flower of their choice.
Stitch techniques demonstrated will include delphiniums, foxgloves, roses, astilbes and many more.


1, 2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Landscapes: A Portfolio of Paint and Stitch Techniques
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On a theme of landscapes each student will produce a portfolio of silk painting and machine embroidery samples which will be an invaluable source of reference for future projects.Using only straight stitch and zigzag learn embroidery techniques for distant trees and hedgerows, grass, corn, wild flowers such as poppies and cow parsley, silk painting techniques for skies, distant fields and mountains.

1 or 2 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Landscapes: An Embroidered Picture
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Inspired by your favourite landscape explore the creativity of free hand machine embroidery and silk painting. Learn how to create a painted and stitched picture. We will outline a design on silk with resist and paint a background with silk dyes. The course will cover techniques for painting skies, fields, distant hills and mountains and free hand machine embroidery techniques for trees, wheat fields, wild flowers and other textured elements.
We will be covering aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, creating depth and perspective, colour mixing in paint and thread, creating texture and the use of light and shade.


1, 2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Landscapes: Stitch Techniques
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Landscapes: A portfolio of stitch techniques:

This course is excellent for beginners, who will learn the basics of freehand machine embroidery. Using only straight stitch and zigzag each student will produce a portfolio of machine embroidery samples which will be an invaluable source of reference for future projects.
On a theme of landscapes the course will cover embroidery techniques for distant trees and hedgerows, grass, corn, wild flowers such as poppies and cow parsley. We will be exploring the way texture and colour create depth and perspective and learning how to draw with stitches


1 or 2 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Reflections in Water
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Inspired by scenes with reflections in lakes, slow flowing rivers or canals, this course helps students to improve their silk painting skills which adds a new dimension to machine embroidery projects.You will learn the silk painting techniques needed to interpret the reflected details in water. It also includes all the stitch techniques required for the landscape and its foliage.
We will cover aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, blending techniques, aerial perspective and linear perspective, colour mixing in paint and thread, creating texture and the use of light and shade.


2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Students with some experience

 Rivers and Waterfalls
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Inspired by scenes of rivers and waterfalls with fast flowing water, moss covered rocks, ferns and foliage we will design and complete a painted and stitched picture. With tutor demonstrations learn the painting techniques for the calm reflective appearance of still water, and smooth wet rocks, and the freehand embroidery stitch techniques to create the texture and movement of white water tumbling over and between mossy rocks.
We will cover aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, blending techniques, aerial perspective and linear perspective, colour mixing in paint and thread, creating texture and the use of light and shade



2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Students with some experience

 Seascapes
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This course includes the design and execution of an embroidered picture of a seascape. Students will work from photographs and will learn silk painting and freehand machine embroidery techniques. Working on silk, you will paint a background and then apply a range of embroidery techniques to complete the picture. You will learn how to paint sky and clouds, sand and rocks and with stitch how to capture the movement of waves, the texture of pebbles, rocks and cliffs.
We will be covering aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, creating depth and perspective, colour mixing in paint and thread, creating texture and the use of light and shade


2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Seascapes: Techniques
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Each student will produce a portfolio of silk painting and creative embroidery techniques. On a theme of seascapes the course will cover techniques for painting skies and water and embroidery techniques for water, waves, cliffs, rocks, pebbles etc

1, 2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Silk Painting
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An opportunity to experiment with silk painting. Learn a little about colour theory, how to mix colours and explore how silk paint behaves on fabric. Practise how to control the flow of the paint and achieve more predictable results. We will be blending and layering colours to produce a range of interesting effects as backgrounds for stitching.



1 or 2 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Silk Painting for Improvers
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For students with a some experience in colour mixing and applying silk paint. We will learn how to paint areas in a composition that require detail but not texture, such as skies, reflections in still water and shadows across a pathway or on a beach.



1 or 2 days    suitable for: Improvers

 Snowscene: A Picture
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Students work from photographs and explore paint and embroidery techniques discovering ways to create the effects of snow, frost and winter mist on landscapes and woodlands. Working on silk, you will create then outline a design with resist, paint a background and then apply a range of embroidery techniques to complete the picture.
The course is structured around group demonstrations by the tutor followed by individual tuition. We will be covering aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, creating depth and perspective, colour mixing in paint and thread, creating texture and the use of light and shade.


2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Students with some experience

 Sunlight and Shadows
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We aim to capture the drama created by strong shadows in a landscape. It may be summer clouds drifting across a hillside, the long evening shadows in a woodland or deep blue shadows within a snow scene. We will look at the bold tonal range within the composition, the wide range of colours found in shadows and play with textures in stitch to create our embroidered picture.
We will outline a design on silk with resist; paint a background with silk paints and apply a range of embroidery techniques. Students will work from photographs of their choice or from a selection provided by the tutor.
We will be covering aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, aerial perspective and linear perspective, colour mixing in paint and in thread. Investigate the way texture and colour creates depth and perspective and how to draw with stitches.


2 or 3 days    suitable for: Students with some experience

 Tear Layer and Stitch: Seascapes
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You will learn how to create paper and stitch collages on a seascapes theme. Layers of cut and torn paper and tissue form a base for freehand machine stitching. This is an experimental free way to work and includes a variety of stitch techniques using straight stitch and zigzag.
suitable for: Beginners and improvers

1, 2 or3 days    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Tear, Layer and Stitch: Landscapes
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You will learn how to create paper and stitch collages on a landscape theme. Layers of cut and torn paper and tissue form a base for freehand machine stitching. This is an experimental free way to work and includes a variety of stitch techniques using straight stitch and zigzag.

1, 2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Texture in Nature
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Celebrating and exploring the colours, texture and detail of trees.
We will work on stitch techniques for tree bark. Some smooth, others craggy and covered in lichen and moss.
We will cover aspects of art theory such as designing balanced compositions, creating depth and perspective, colour mixing in paint and thread, creating texture and the use of light and shade.
Students will work from photographs of their own or from a selection provided by the tutor.



2 or 3 days    suitable for: Students with some experience

 The Garden in Paint and Stitch
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Inspired by the flowers and foliage of the Chelsea Physic Garden students will create a thread painted flower study on hand painted silk.

Students will start this course exploring the garden for inspiration, taking photographs of flowers, observing shapes and form, gathering ideas for colour combinations and designs.
Through tutor demonstrations we will learn how to paint on silk and produce creative backgrounds in response to the garden
To complete our designs and create detail and definition we will add a range of freehand machine stitched flowers.


book online


2 days    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Up Close and Personal
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Explore the fine detail in close ups of flowers and leaves. Learn how to blend in stitch to create a smooth transition through colour and tonal ranges. Learn interesting stitch techniques for petals, stamens etc. creating depth and definition
A silk painted background will set off this dramatic flower study.



2 or 3 days    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Up Hill Down Dale
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A course that encompasses all the best imagery from rambling in the countryside. Meandering rutted tracks, old wooden gates, stiles and mossy dry stone walls.
We will outline a design on silk with gutta and paint a background with silk dyes and explore stitch techniques for the textured elements of the composition

2 or 3 days    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Wild Flowers and Grasses
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Using wild flower meadows as the inspiration we will learn stitch techniques for poppies, daises, corn, barley and grasses using
straight stitch and zigzag stitch. We will paint a simple background as a base to give depth to the composition. Combining these two elements we will produce images with colour, depth and definition.
Students can produce several small pieces which will make wonderful small embroidered pictures or cards.

1 or 2 days    suitable for: Beginners

 Winter Trees
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A course that combines two elements, machine embroidered lace and silk painting, for the background, a simple winter sky, sunset or landscape painted on silk and the foreground, one or several machine embroidered 'lace' skeletal trees to overlay the painting.
This involves the technique of stitching across a hole cut into fabric to create a lacework structure. The trees can be placed over the silk painting and the card mount to create a 3 dimensional image. Additional free hand embroidery can be added to the painted background to create more detail in the landscape



1, 2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers

 Woodland Scene: An Embroidered Picture
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Inspired by shadows and dappled sunlight falling on the woodland floor, we will explore the light and shade, colour and textures in a woodland scene
With a series of demonstrations learn silk painting and freehand embroidery techniques for the elements found within a woodland including tree bark and moss, foliage, snowdrops, bluebells and ferns.
We will cover aspects of art theory including designing balanced compositions, creating depth and perspective and how to mix colours in paint and thread

2 or 3 day course    suitable for: Students with some experience

 Woodlands: Techniques
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Machine Embroidery: Woodland Techniques

Each student will produce a portfolio of free hand machine embroidery techniques using only straight stitch and zigzag. On a theme of woodlands the course will cover embroidery techniques for tree trunks, foliage, bark, ferns and woodland flowers such as bluebells, snowdrops and azaleas. Exploring the way texture and colour create depth and perspective, learning to draw with stitches

1 or 2 day course    suitable for: Beginners and improvers