Skills in the Making

Working with textiles

Cathy Miles
Michael Brennand-Wood
(Image courtesy of the artist)


Contemporary textile makers use an increasingly broad range of materials to make work mixing fabrics with paper and all kinds of sculptural materials and found objects.

The practice of making textiles encompasses a wide range of techniques which can be used individually or in combination. These include weaving, stitching by hand or machine, printing, felting, appliqué and collage.

Textile makers

Michael Brennand-Wood: experimental constructed textiles

Caroline Broadhead: conceptual textiles

Lucy Brown: weaving

Dawn Dupree: screen printed textiles

Cas Holmes: collaged textiles and mixed media

Alice Kettle: stitched textiles

Shane Waltener: experimental textiles & installations

Alison Willoughby: constructed textiles and fashion


Links to makers in action

Alice Kettle talks to Helen Felcey about their collaboration 'Clay and Thread'

Shane Waltener's installation with Craftspace at the Knitting and Stitching Show

Common textiles terms explained

Appliqué: needlework technique used to attach fabric, embroidery or other materials to cloth to create images or designs. Used in quilting and banner making.

Block Printing: creating text or images using inked blocks (usually wooden, carved in relief.)

Crochet: creating a fabric or structure from yarn, thread or other materials using a single crochet hook (can be made from wood, metal or plastic).

Collage/mixed media: combining textiles with paper, print, dye and stitch to build up layers and textures.

Constructed: sculpture or 3D structures created with any of the above techniques, often using a combination of natural and synthetic/man-made materials.

Knitting: turning thread or yarn into cloth or fabric by using needles to pass loops in patterns (by hand or by machine). Importantly, knitted fabric has more elasticity than woven fabric.

Screen Printing: creating an image using inks or dyes pressed through a mesh, often with stencils created photographically or with paper and resists.

Stitching/Embroidery: decorating fabric with needle and thread or yarn, using a range of distinct stitches (by hand or by machine.)

Weaving: making a fabric, cloth or structure by interlacing warp threads (vertical) with weft threads (horizontal), fixed to a loom or frame.

Textile Material Suppliers

General Textiles

Fibrecrafts 01483 565800
Old Portsmouth Road, Peasmarsh, Guildford, GU3 1LZ


Whaleys Ltd 01274 576718
Harris Court, Great Morton, Bradford BD7 4EQ

Brodie and Middleton 020 7836 3289
68 Drury lane, London WC28 5SP

Also try charity shops and recycling centres for second hand and recycled fabrics.

Fabric Printing materials

Dyes, binders, pigments: Quality Colours: 020 7394 8775
Unit 1 Gemini Project, Landmann Way, London SE14 5RL

Dyes and squeegees: Selectasine Serigraphics Ltd 0208 8467 8544
65 Chislehurst Rd, Chiselhurst, Kent BR7 5 NP

Screens and other products: Screen Colour Systems 020 8241 2050
Waterfall Cottages, Colliers Wood, London, SW19 2AE

Dyes and starter kits: Kemtex Educational Supplies 01257 230220
Chorley Business & Technology Centre, Euxton Lane, Chorley, Lancashire PR7 6TE

Specialist Papers

Shepherd Bookbinders formerly Falkiners Fine Papers 020 7831 1151
6 Southampton Row, London, WC1B 4AR

John Purcell Papers 020 7737 5199
15 Rumsey Road London SW9 0TR

General art materials

Berol 0844 4121126
Berol Customer Services Newell Rubbermaid Fradley Park, Lichfield, Staffs, WS13 8SS

Colourcraft Ltd 0114 242 1431
Unit 6 555 Carlisle Street East Sheffield S4 8DT


Overview of contemporary textiles

Cole, Drusilla (2008) Textiles Now, Laurence King

Braddock, Sarah E and O'Mahoney Marie (2007) Techno Textiles: revolutionary Fabrics for fashion and Design Thames and Hudson.

Scott, Jac (2003) Textile perspectives in Mixed Media Sculpture. Crowood Press

Telos Art Publishing specialise in contemporary textiles artists.


Nauman, Rose and Hull, Raymond (1974) The off-loom weaving book, Pitman

Russel, Carol K (1991) The Tapestry handbook, A&C Publishing


Bawden, Juliet (1991) The Art and Craft of Appliqué, Mitchell Beazley

Fashion and textiles

Willoughby, Alison (2008) 491/2 skirts A&C Black

Udale, Jenny (2008) Textiles and Fashion AVA publishing

Collage and mixed media

Holmes, Cas (2010) The found object in Textile Art

Pearce, Amanda (1997) The Art and Craft of Collage, Mitchell Beazley

Bawden, Juliet (1990) The Art and Craft of Fabric Decoration, Mitchell Beazley



Specialist textiles websites

The Textile Society: information on museum and gallery textile collections and exhibitions, study days and events across the UK and abroad. A wide range of links to all things textiles related – local groups, artists, materials and resources.

The 62 Group features the work and profiles of many UK contemporary textile makers working across the field of textiles, with links to makers' websites, exhibitions and workshops.

Embroiderers Guild, exhibitions and events, appointments to see the collection.

Vintage Textile A commercial site that includes many images of clothes and articles about the history of fashion.

through the surface project that brought together Japanese and UK textile artists.

International Surface Design Association (US fibre art), publications, teaching resources and DVDs.

Textile Collections in Museums and Galleries

The Fashion and Textiles Museum, London.

Whitworth Gallery, Manchester.

Victoria and Albert Museum, permanent displays, special exhibitions, textile archive and study collection.

Fashion Museum, Bath.

Hampshire Museums Service: dress and textiles collection, held in Winchester, displays across the county.

Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston: a Costume & Textile Collection which includes over 6,000 items of historic and contemporary clothing, textiles and fashion plates.

Horniman Museum: textiles from Africa, Asia, North America, the Pacific and the largest European folk art collection in the UK.