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.

Patchwood Samplers with Ali Ferguson    

July 9th to July 16th 2020



A week of hand stitching with a difference creating a beautiful, personal ‘sampler’ from ‘patches’ of repurposed wood.

You will embellish each ‘patch’ with vintage sewing box treasures or other collectables all hand stitched into place. Your patches are then stitched together to create your unique and very personal ‘heirloom’ wall hanging.

Before beginning to stitch, tiny holes must be drilled into the wood. Every single stitch requires at least two holes! The whole process is slow and thoughtful.

There is time to create one large twenty-one patch sampler over the week or you may choose to create a series of smaller pieces, the choice is yours.

Materials - Ali will be supplying a gorgeous selection of vintage ‘Sewing Box’ inspired materials – everything you need to make your sampler. However, to make it even more personal, you may wish to bring along some of your own bits & pieces.


You could use the contents of your granny's sewing box - scraps of vintage lace, buttons on cards, tiny reels of thread, thimbles, small scissors, hooks & eyes, stitched table linens and old suspender clips.


You are welcome to change the theme completely, perhaps by including small bits from dad's tool shed, or from the kitchen. You could bring collected items to make a sampler based around your family, childhood memories or favourite holiday. Think about collections of special objects and paper ephemera that you have collected over time – some of the most gorgeous patches are made from the most random bits & pieces!



Meet and greet supper round the table! Ali will tell you the story behind her Patchwood Samplers and show you lots of samples to get you thinking.


Day 2

Introduction & Preparation

Ali will explain the processes & stages involved in making your sampler. We’ll start by sanding your wooden ‘patches’ in preparation for painting and then start working on your layout. You’ll work out your colour palette and start painting and sanding your blocks. The preparation process takes time but it will be a lovely social day of getting to know each other while we work.


Day 3

Gathering & Grouping

We’ll discuss the importance of using materials that are meaningful and that you respond to emotionally and Ali will introduce you to the sewing box ‘treasures’ that she has brought along for you to use. Using Ali’s samples as a reference you will start laying out your bits & pieces onto your patches. Ali will be giving individual suggestions & help throughout. Again this is a thoughtful process – not to be rushed. You’ll be encouraged to jot down any thoughts, memories or stories that come to mind as you are working with your collections.

You’ll start planning your stitching for joining your wooden ‘patches’ together and Ali will demonstrate the techniques for drilling & stitching.

Day 4


This morning will be an outing to the local flea market where we’ll be on the lookout for treasures. A great opportunity to find small bits & pieces to include in our samplers. Back in the studio we will have a ‘show & tell’ of our market finds and continue joining our patches.


Day 5

Ali will show various techniques for attaching your bits & pieces onto your patches and we’ll look at functional & decorative stitching. You’ll then be working on your Patchwood Sampler throughout the day with individual help from Ali.


Day 6


Today there will be an outing to a local attraction of your choice! The studio will be open after your return for you to continue your Patchwood Sampler.


Day 7

You will be continuing to work on your Patchwood Sampler and will complete it by the end of the day.


Day 8

Today we will tie up any loose ends and say our goodbyes. We’ll have a ‘show & tell’ of everyone’s work and listen to some of the stories behind your pieces.


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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