Machine embroidery

Poppies - free machining with dyes and applique


In this fun and inspiring workshop, you will learn how to really make the most of a sewing machine, using it to 'draw' and create a set of unique stitched samples. You have the choice of working from your own images (drawings and/or photos) or from some of mine. As the course is run for no more than 2 or 3 people at a time, it can be tailored very much to individual needs and requirements.

By the end of the day you will have:

- Learnt how to set up a sewing machine for free machining
- Learnt how to prepare images and fabrics for free machining
- Studied a range of samples for inspiration and understanding
- Watched a range of demonstrations
- Experimented with free machined cording techniques
- Experimented with reverse applique
- Experimented with thread tensions
- Understood health and safety issues when free machining
- Created a set of samples to take home with you
- Received a set of technical handouts to support your day's learning

The workshop is run for 2 or 3 people on a day negotiated with me and is held in my comfortable and cosy garden studio close to Richmond Park and Kingston town centre. The session cost £75 each, or if you want to do the course on your own it will cost £130. Please send me a message about how many people you are booking for and when you would like to come before sending a request to book.

I have 30 years of experience teaching art, textiles, printmaking and illustration in further and adult education, in colleges and privately too, so you can be certain of well structured, well-paced and inspiring teaching and learning.

Alongside my teaching, I have been a practising artist and designer for 30 years, exhibiting nationwide and working commercially within the fields of textiles and illustration.

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

Costs include all materials and refreshments. You can use my Bernina sewing machines, or bring your own if you feel more comfortable with a machine that's familiar. If you are bringing your own, you just need to check beforehand that you can drop the feed and bring an embroidery foot that fits your machine.


Ruth Blackford at Ruth Blackford

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233 Kings Road
Kingston Upon Thames

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Intermediate level
  • Public transport
  • Seniors
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • Wheelchair users


1 day (10:00am to 4:00pm)

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Ursula Wharf - - #30525

Had the most enjoyable day at Ruth's Free Machine Embroidery course. A warm welcome, well equipped studio, delicious lunch and a knowledgeable and encouraging tutor all ensured a wonderful experience.
I learnt techniques which made this skill much less daunting. I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone, whether a beginner or an experienced machinist wanting to expand on their creativity with textiles.

Ruth - - #29257

I attended Ruth’s workshop on free hand machine embroidery, and can’t praise it enough. Ruth was very patient and encouraging, whilst making sure we understood and learnt all the techniques she introduced us too. I’ll definitely be returning to learn more.

I am now much more confident when using my sewing machine for embroidery.

Emma - - #27965

Ruth managed to squeeze the three of us into her lovely studio. Ruth was a wonderful and patient teacher. We achieved so much in a day, far more than I expected! Really inspiring and we can't wait to start using our new found skills on our own projects.

Sewing queen - - #27062

Challenging but at the same time very achievable thanks to the great tutoring by Ruth Blackford.

Anna Pamphilon - - #27061

I had an excellent and highly enjoyable day learning lots of new sewing techniques. Ruth was very flexible and happy to tailor the course to any desired technique. Ruth's garden studio is charming and she is a very warm and patient teacher with lots of teaching experience, making it all in all a great experience! Highly recommend.

Elaine Pamphilon - - #27060

How can I tell you how much I enjoyed this day course?! Ruth was an excellent teacher and got us using so many different stitches and effects. She has a delightful warm personality and she is a first rate textile artist and inspirational as an instructor.
I classed myself a fairly good seamstress, having made men’s suits but I didn’t know any of the embroidery effects that Ruth taught us. I learnt so much, it was a truly enjoyable day.

Sue Norgrove-Moore - - #26680

This was an excellent day. Ruth was a wonderful and patient teacher. As a beginner, I achieved so much more than I expected! I’m very inspired by what I learned.

Anne - - #25694

What a lovely day! Ruth was a fantastic host and teacher. My friend and I learned so much in just one day and feel very inspired to go on with projects of our own. Definitely recommend this course.

louise McElhinney - - #24622

I just spent a perfect Sunday with my best friend being creative in Ruth’s lovely home. The course allows a total beginner to feel the buzz of creating something totally unique and I now feel confident and inspired to go on machine embroidering in my spare time. I would thoroughly recommend this course! Thank you Ruth x

Erica Whalley - - #24294

A really excellent course, very enjoyable, Ruth was great to work with and provided a perfectly paced introduction of several techniques, with time to explore them. I was really pleased with what I learnt and the progress I made in the day (although I was an absolute beginner).
As there are a maximum of two on the course, loads of personal attention made the course particularly effective. A lovely lunch too!
Would highly recommend any courses with Ruth and will certainly be planning to return soon. Thank you Ruth

Fran Stevens - - #24228

A great course in a lovely setting. Learnt so much in just one day .

Sarah Coles - - #23081

I thoroughly enjoyed my one day course learning free machine embroidery. There is nothing more fulfilling than learning a new skill and discovering a passion for something new! Ruth showed me so many techniques, and she has such a wealth of knowledge and so many examples, that I genuinely came away inspired to continue to build upon what I had learnt. Ruth's studio was a great place to learn in; it was both relaxing and had a beautiful outlook, and I enjoyed so much delicious homemade food.
All in all, the workshop experience was a real treat!

Jane worrall - - #21577

This course was just what I had hoped it would be. Ruth is such a lovely person. Her relaxed manner enabled me to learn with ease. It's amazing how much my machine can do. Without the expertise of Ruth I would never have realised what it, and I, am capable of.
Lunch and cake were a nice bonus.
I’d certainly return for another day course to learn more.

Lesley Alexander - - #21094

I had a splendid day with Ruth. I have a project that I needed help with and she sorted out my layout, then we got to the sewing bit, whereupon I found I could do all sorts of things on my machine that I didn't know I could, though it became apparent that I need to practise....

My project is well on its way. In the course of the day Ruth gave me all sorts of hints tips and tricks that I just hope I'll remember, and handouts to help.

Lunch and cake was good too!

Frances - - #20287

Had a wonderful day, so nice to take some time out to learn a new skill and create something. Ruth is a great teacher , very patient and encouraging. Her studio is a lovely place to work in. The whole day was really inspiring !

Carole - - #19325

Just attended a fabulous one to one day course with Ruth Blackford - Textiles/Machine Embroidery. Ruth made the day fun and gave me lots of ideas and helped me to develop my ideas. She made me very welcome. Would thoroughly recommend Ruth as a Textile teacher.

Embroidery fan - - #17886

A thoroughly enjoyable course and so much packed into one day. Leaves me wanting to attend another course by Ruth Blackford.

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