Creating Machine Embroidery with Alison Holt

In this 3+ hour video workshop master embroiderer Alison Holt demonstrates her most requested techniques for producing flowers, foliage and landscapes — equally effective on plain or hand-painted fabric backgrounds.



Creating Machine Embroidery with Alison Holt - Workshop Overview

Why settle for the same old digital embroidery patterns for creating flowers and more when you can make your own?  

Working with just Straight and Zigzag stitches, Free Motion Machine Embroidery Artist Alison Holt shows how to achieve artistic results with a basic sewing machine. She then goes on to develop depth and contrast in her work by incorporating painted backgrounds.

Finally, Alison brings all of her teaching skills together to achieve a wonderful landscape, ‘Penylan Lane’, incorporating a variety of stitch techniques, silk painting, and developing a palette of thread colors for highlights and shadows.

A wonderful workshop for those who want to learn how to paint with thread and stitches!

Part One: Learning Free Motion Machine Embroidery Techniques

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Materials for Machine Embroidery

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Basic Machine Embroidery Methods

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Machine Embroidery Workshop

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Free Motion Flowers & Foliage

Free Motion Machine Embroidery is much more than learning to move a hoop while you stitch.  It’s choosing the right threads, exploring color and  texture, and mastering the skills needed to develop composition in your work.  It’s also understanding how your sewing machine works as your work.  

There’s no need to buy a more expensive machine or invest in digital embroidery patterns — this workshop will teach you how to let go of your fears and develop your own flowers, leaves, plants and more.  


  • What You Will Need
  • Adapting the Sewing Machine
  • Stretching Fabric in the Hoop
  • Basic Stitches


  • Astilbes
  • Alliums
  • Delphiniums (Straight Stitch & Zigzag Stitch)
  • Foxgloves
  • Roses
  • Poppies
  • Achillea & Cow Parsley
  • Daisies
  • Iris
  • Foliage

Part Two: Developing Painted Backgrounds and Embroidered Landscapes

Painting Backgrounds

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Machine Embroidery Threads

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Embroidered Landscapes

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Free Motion Embroidered Art

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Now that you understand how your machine works, how to create basic flowers and foliage, it’s time to enjoy making some embroidery compositions.  And in Part Two, we are going to explore working with painted backgrounds to create depth, contrast and texture in your finished work.

We begin with a simple poppy composition embroidering both painted cloth and creating stitched poppies to achieve a lovely composition.  From there we move on to working with photographs to develop an embroidered landscape, “Penylan Lane”, which is a lovely country lane in the Welsh countryside.

Throughout the workshop Alison provides support, ideas, tips and advice on how to achieve the best results.  Finally, Alison shows us how we can use our embroidered compositions and landscapes in the development of cards, framed wall art, and home furnishings.


  • Stretching Silk on a Frame
  • Painting a Background for Foxgloves
  • Painting a Background for Poppies
  • Embroidering the Foxgloves
  • Embroidering the Poppies


  • Transferring the Design onto Silk
  • Painting the Background
  • Selecting the Threads
  • Starting the Embroidery
  • Presenting your Finished Work

Alison Holt, Free Motion Embroidery Textile Artist & Instructor

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“I’m an artist who paints with threads”, says Alison Holt, our instructor for this workshop on free motion machine embroidery.  Educated at Goldsmith’s College, Alison chose to devote her career to learning and teaching free motion machine embroidery.  Alison is the author of several books on Machine Embroidery which are available from Search Press.