Ali Ferguson

A brief biography


Artist, embroiderer

& collector of stories

Ali describes herself as a bit of a ‘home bird’. Her home and family are the most important things in her world and since becoming a mother at the age of 23, her home became her kingdom. It’s no surprise then that this is also where her passions lie with her artwork


She draws inspiration from the every-day. Every-day people and every-day things and is endlessly fascinated by people and their stories, particularly their reflections and memories of ordinary home and working lives.


Wherever possible she works with old and used materials. Seeking out fragments of old clothing, household linens and the every day bits & pieces that are to be found hidden away in the bottom of drawers. She loves the thought that an old piece of clothing is implanted with stories of the wearer or that a piece of washed and worn table linen holds the secrets of a household.


She layers and patches these fragments together, combining them with hand stitch – offering a glimpse into lives all but forgotten or overlooked. This inevitably becomes a relaxed, organic and thoughtful process.


‘There’s something so personal & special about leaving your mark with needle and thread.’


She spends much of her time working from her studio ‘The Purple Thread Shed’ in the garden of her home near Edinburgh.


(Hi)Stories Uncovered with Ali Ferguson    

July 23rd to July 30th 2020



Using old & discarded materials, you will spend a gorgeous week immersed in (Hi)Stories as you create a collection of hand-stitched samplers inspired by some favourite pieces of handwriting.


Ali will be supplying a gorgeous selection of vintage materials from her studio such as old linens, 1940s French floral fabrics, vintage cottons & quilt fragments. She’ll also bring vintage threads & haberdashery for use throughout the week.


Everything you need for the course will be provided, BUT to make your pieces even more personal you may wish to bring along some of your own bits & pieces. Think about old fabric scraps, stitched table linens, lace fragments and any other old materials that are meaningful to you. You may wish to bring some vintage buttons – mother of pearl & old linen laundry buttons are particularly beautiful.


Please also bring along some pieces of personal handwriting to copy onto fabric. (Ali will have plenty to use if you can’t find anything). These could be old letters or postcards or handwritten recipes, even old school reports for example. They won’t be damaged as we will simply be photocopying them.


You can also bring a couple of photographs to copy onto fabric. Old black & white or sepia family photos are the most in keeping with the story telling theme (last year’s holiday photos maybe aren’t the best).



Meet and greet supper round the table.

Ali will share the story behind her title ‘(Hi)Stories Uncovered’


Day 2

Today we’ll be thinking about bringing (Hi)Stories to your textile work and ‘uncovering’ deeper thoughts & layers of meaning. We’ll discuss the importance of using materials that are meaningful and that you respond to emotionally. You’ll be encouraged throughout the week to jot down ideas, thoughts & stories that come to you as you are working.

We’ll start by Inkjet printing your chosen text onto calico & muslin and then using these as the inspiration for a personal story sampler on a woollen blanket ground.

In addition to your printed fabrics you’ll be working with a fabulous  selection of vintage and used materials. Ali will show her relaxed and organic process for  ‘building’ your sampler and embellishing with hand-stitching and vintage haberdashery.


Day 3

We’ll work on two small story samplers today inspired by some traditional techniques & old linen backgrounds. You’ll have the opportunity to print a couple of vintage photos onto fabric as well as more text. Ali will introduce more ways of adding words to your work using the printer & stitch.

Day 4


This morning will be an outing to the local flea market where we’ll be on the lookout for old linens & garments for use in our work. Back in the studio we’ll show off our market finds and you can continue stitching your works in progress.


Day 5

We’ll start off a new project today using the techniques and processes learned earlier in the week. You may choose to work a bit bigger, using a piece of gorgeous French linen (those red stripes!!) or even a garment. By this point in the week you will most definitely have ideas and stories that you want to pursue.


Day 6


Today there will be an outing to a local attraction of your choice! The studio will be open on your return to continue working on any of your pieces. By now you will have a gorgeous collection of projects requiring wonderfully relaxed, slow hand stitching.


Day 7

You’ll continue working on your projects with individual help where needed. You may wish to start something new, or you may wish to continue with your stitching.


If you choose to start all the projects that Ali introduces throughout the week you won’t finish everything before you leave - hand stitching is slow! You will, however, leave with a lovely collection of meaningful pieces that you will enjoy working on at home. If you know that time at home is short, then you can choose to work on only a couple of pieces throughout the week. The choice is entirely yours.


Day 8

Today we will tie up any loose ends and say our goodbyes.

Most flights are later in the afternoon so the studio will be open for you to use all morning followed by lunch before you leave.



To reserve a place on this course click here to visit our deposits page to pay online.



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Pendinnis Gardens


Cornwall PL15 8GZ

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