Sketching with Thread

UNDER REVIEW: Sketching with Thread Workshop

a portrait embroidery workshop with Susie Vickery

Susie Vickery is my hero. She's an extraordinary artist, craftswoman and human being
- workshop delegate

24/04/2021 - 24/04/2021
Course Type: 


Introductory, Intermediate, General Interest, Leisure Learning
The Society For The Protection Of Ancient Buildings
37 Spital Square,
United Kingdom
Required Equipment: 

Please see the course description for detailed information on what to bring to the workshop.


£100 pp

Event details

UNDER REVIEW: due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, we are considering ways in which we can deliver this course safely. If you have a booking for this event we will be in touch with you soon with further details.

Sketching with Thread: a portrait embroidery workshop with Susie Vickery

24 April 2021, 10:00 - 16:30 (rescheduled from 13 June 2020)
£100 pp, includes refreshments and a light lunch

The SPAB is delighted to once again present this popular workshop led by embroidery and textile artist Susie Vickery. In this workshop, you will learn to embroider a portrait using free-form straight stitch. Participants will all begin with the same image of SPAB founder William Morris to learn the technique of ‘sketching with thread’. You will then move on to embroider an image of your choosing. You will learn how to transfer your image onto the fabric, and then use the techniques already practised on the sample to interpret your custom portrait. While participants are working on their sample portraits, a short talk about the SPAB and William Morris will be presented. This workshop will be held at the SPAB headquarters in London - an opportunity to view the inside of the only remaining Georgian house in Spital Square.

Participants are required to bring the following:
•    a clear picture/photograph of the person’s face that you would like to embroider;
•    a printout copy of the picture/photograph where the face is approximately 10cm high (the copy can be in black & white, but you will need to bring in a colour original to work from);
•    thread clippers or small scissors;
•    a thimble (if you use one).

This workshop is suitable for adults with an interest in embroidery - no previous embroidery experience is required, but participants should be comfortable with basic hand stitching and drawing. All fabric, threads, needles, embroidery rings, markers and tracing paper (to transfer your image to fabric) will be provided. Refreshments and a sandwich lunch will also be provided to participants. The workshop will be limited to a small group.


Some of the wonderful feedback from delegates of our 2019 'Sketching with Thread' workshop:

"Susie Vickery was brilliant at tailoring guidance individually to every member of the group. Lovely atmosphere."

"Really relaxing environment, great lunch and lovely to spend a whole day doing something so creative."

"Very good tutor, very informative, well organised."

"Very clear teaching about how to achieve good results."

"It was great to be encouraged to be bold in use of colour and line."

"Such an interesting way of embroidering. Susie was wonderful."

You can also read a blog post written by one of the 2019 workshop delegates, in which she shares her experience of the workshop.


The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded by William Morris in 1877 to counteract the highly destructive 'restoration' of medieval buildings being practised by many Victorian architects. The SPAB remains true to its founding principles and is now the oldest and most technically expert building conservation charity in the UK, fighting to save old buildings from decay, demolition and damage. The SPAB is a membership organisation and offers training, events and expert advice, as well as publishing a quarterly Magazine, technical pamphlets and advice notes. 

This workshop will be held at the SPAB headquarters in London. The building dates from around 1740 and originally belonged to a Huguenot silk merchant. It was rescued from dereliction by the Spitalfields Trust before being sold to the SPAB in the early 1980s. On the day of this embroidery workshop, the SPAB courtyard garden will also be open as part of NGS Spitalfields Gardens.

Susie Vickery’s career centres on embroidery and textiles, both practical and academic. Her core skills were developed over two decades as a costumier for theatre and film in the UK. In the last 20 years, Susie has built expertise in two further areas: development work and fine art embroidery. She works as a craft consultant with income generation projects in India, Nepal, Tibet, Myanmar and Turkey, responding to local materials and artistic traditions. Susie has run workshops for USAID in Tibet, the Smithsonian Museum, Washington, in China, the British Council in Nepal, and the Wellcome Institute, London, in India. Susie was the mentor artist for art projects with women’s groups in informal settlements in Mumbai, in rural Nepal and with indigenous Mexicans and Australians, making art with recycled and local materials. Susie’s work is the inspiration for her embroidered animations, automata and textile pieces. Susie is a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen UK and Honorary Fellow of the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.

Places are limited so book now!

Booking Terms & Conditions

Accessibility: please contact the SPAB before booking to discuss any special access requirements. The front steps outside (6) and internal stairs unfortunately restrict access for some.


Getting here