Stitched Portraits (Freestyle Stitching) with Harriet Riddell, 11/12 July

Stitched Portraits (Freestyle Stitching) with Harriet Riddell, 11/12 July

Drawing similarities from the world of the comic books, Harriet Riddell has an alter ego that leaves witnesses in stitches…. for she is InstitchYou – a peddle-powered creative vigilante who brings joyful creations into the world with the power of her sewing machine!

Harriet delightfully combines portraiture & drawing with the sewing machine to create unique pieces of art that lovingly capture the essence and soul of their subjects.

Normally found stitching her way around the world on a peddle-powered sewing machine, we have persuaded Harriet to return to the studio to teach a few more lucky students how to stitch this curious world onto canvas.

This course is for the experimental, adventurous and brave!



Learning to dance with your machine & creating stitched portraits

A crash-course introduction to mark making with free motion embroidery. Learn how to create proportioned portraits and translate them into stitch with your sewing machine.

Experiment with reverse-photo-stitching and decorative appliqué techniques.


Portraiture embellishment and creative development

Indulge in working on a personal project with one-on-one support and guidance from Harriet.

Continue to explore more free motion embroidery and appliqué in portraiture, storytelling or capturing a scene.

This weekend course includes:

  • A series of structured demonstrations and exercises
  • Learning a range of techniques to help you dance with your sewing machine!
  • Relaxed & attentive one-to-one guidance for every student

Suitable for?

Anyone who knows how to work a sewing machine. This course is not suitable for students with very little or no sewing machine experience.

We generally advise that students be 14 years old+ though exceptions can be made where appropriate.

What is included in the price?

  • Two full days’ teaching (10am-4pm)
  • Tea, coffee, biscuits/cake
  • Material to create onto and fabrics to use to build up your portrait
  • Use of a beautiful purpose-built art studio with all the equipment & materials you will need
  • Beautiful countryside setting

This course is for you if:

  • You want to use your sewing skills in a more creative, fun way
  • You want to learn new skills
  • You want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in a fun, creative environment
  • You love creativity, especially on fabric

Need accommodation?

If you are travelling from further afield and would like to stay in the area for your visit then have a look at our recommended list of local B&Bs and hotels.

You will need to bring:

  • A working sewing machine that you are familiar with and know how to operate*
    • It must have a ‘free-motion embroidery foot
    • and have feed dogs that can be dropped (‘dropping the feed dogs’ lowers the teeth which usually push the fabric back, normally with a switch. This lets the fabric be free and pushed in any direction)
    • If you have an extension table for it too then bring that as well
  • A pair of sharp embroidery scissors.
  • Any different thread colours you may want to use
  • Any of your own fabrics that you may want to incorporate into your creations – they may have sentimental value or be special to you!
  • A few choices of photos, showing people/scenes that you would like to capture in stitch

*If someone wants to come to the workshop, but doesn’t have their own sewing machine or they don’t think their sewing machine has a free motion embroidery option, please get in touch and we can try to find you a machine for the weekend. 

Pre course prep

In addition to gathering appropriate images and inspiration, Harriet will set you some ‘homework’ to prepare for the weekend once you have booked on the course. It won’t be compulsory so don’t worry if you don’t get time to do it before the course – there will be lots of time to practise during the workshop.

£180 for the whole weekend, including tuition, materials, tea, coffee, cake and biscuits


Complete the booking form (top right of your screen, or scroll down if you’re on a mobile).


Harriet Riddell

Harriet is a textile performance artist who travels around the world with her sewing machine stitching portraits and landscapes from life.

Harriet’s love of interacting with people and going on adventures inspires her to create her artwork. Her stitched drawings appear from a single line of thread and using applique techniques she adds colour and words to a story. She has taught in India, Taiwan, Kenya, South Africa and Sweden in addition to here in the UK.

I love to see other people fall in love with free-style stitching, it is infectious and totally addictive!

Harriet Riddel – InStitchYou

Harriet has had great feedback from her courses.  Here are just a couple of testimonials:

Thank you for such an informative, hands-on free motion sewing course in the beautiful serene setting of Phoenix Studios in Oxfordshire. I was a complete novice and was made to feel relaxed and welcome, in spite of a personal lack of confidence.
The course emphasised some drawing techniques to apply to your stitched piece. I liked the chance to experiment to music, to learn from each other and to have some individual help when needed. I learnt so much and was amazed at what could be done in such a short time.
Harriet is a warm, kind teacher with a natural passion for her unique work which enthuses out of her. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and for me an extra treat to be a part of the whole Phoenix Studios experience. James Ort himself sat down and tried his hand at the stitching course which was a compliment in itself. Thank you for a wonderful weekend. It was a real privilege to attend.
Katie Smith
‘I loved the workshop with Harriet! I enjoyed every part of the day and was really pleased with the stitch pictures I went home with. She was very kind and patient with me….a beginner in stitch! Thank you!’
Jan Long
Harriet is a lovely person and a good teacher. She provides guidance but ensures participants develop their own ideas. And her technique is fascinating and highly original. I loved the whole weekend. Phoenix Studios is a great learning space in a serene and rural location. James Ort (and his Mum) have created a wonderful learning space and having him participate in the class was a pleasure as well. I highly recommend both this venue and Harriet as a teacher. What a wonderful weekend it was!
Julie Mills

£180 for the whole weekend, including tuition, materials, tea, coffee, cake and biscuits


Complete the booking form (top right of your screen, or scroll down if you’re on a mobile).

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