Figurative Textiles


My figurative pieces are heavily influenced by my childhood in Kenya, my love of African fabrics and the aesthetics of the raw.

I don’t design or plan, rather a figure is often influenced by shapes that I connect with on an instinctive level. This could be ceramics, baskets, gourds, children’s drawings, folk and indigenous art.

I work with two different techniques that allow for either hanging figures or free standing figures. Both techniques can range in scale and size from 16 inches tall to 5 ft.

My process starts with a shape that is added to by piecework, applique, visible stitching, beads, buttons, yarns, tearing, wrapping and a variety of  fibers. Edges are left raw, I work instinctively, in silence, allowing each figure to emerge. The visible stitching is both a method of construction and decoration. I don’t use a sewing machine in any stage of the making process, everything is hand stitched.

My 7 individual workshops allow for participants to pick and choose from a diverse range of techniques and processes. If all 7 workshops are completed you will have a full range of skills  allowing you to explore  your individual  creative voice and personal identity. I would advise that all participants take workshop one, as it introduces you to my way of working and is a strong starting point.

All courses are suitable for complete beginners through to professional artists looking for a new way to express themselves. 

Materials list for all workshops:

Fabrics – Preferably not new unless you are working from your stash.

Threads – You can use anything from machine threads through to embroidery floss and thin crochet yarn. For visible stitching thicker threads are useful. 

 Needles – They don’t have to be special, I use household needles. Just look at the size of the eye, make sure that your threads fits through easily.

Scissors – Make sure that they are sharp enough for fabric. 

Pins  – Useful but not a necessity.

Stuffing – Does not have to be bought from a craft store, I personally use the insides of cushions, pillows, comforters and duvets. I do this for 2 reasons: firstly, the figures use a lot more stuffing than you think and secondly I know that manufactures have strict safety standards and the filling in these household items will adhere to fire safety regulations.

  • Each workshop lasts 2.5 hours and is £25 per person. The workshop is run online via GOOGLE MEET or ZOOM 

Each participant will be  emailed a set of slides in PDF format. 

The format for each workshop will consist of welcome, followed by  slides.  Answering of  questions  followed by a 10 min comfort break, after which we  come back to start the making process.

Register your interest and enroll: through Facebook, Instagram or email – helen@helenlayfield .com or

Details of workshops

My courses  give you a very simple intuitive process,  it is not a detailed step by step process. I don’t supply patterns and we won’t use other artists’ patterns. Rather I give you techniques and processes that will enable you to have the freedom to find your own creative voice. Participants are often surprised at the simplicity of the process. I do this because firstly I am very dyslexic and following patterns or complex instructions is not my thing. 

Secondly I believe that everyone has their own creative voice  and being given ideas as a starting point is far more useful than being told what to do. It also allows for each individual to build their own visual language  and unique way of working.

These are not  healing or transformational doll workshops. I am an artist and the workshops  concentrate on developing your creative identity  and personal voice from making figurative work through hand stitching fabrics .



Workshop 1 – One piece figure  – 2.5 hours – £25

Sunday – January 15 2023 & April 22023 6:30 – 9 UK time

Friday  – January 20 2023 & April 7 2023 –  6 – 8:30 UK time

This course allows for one simple shape to be the basis of your figure. I believe that constraint allows for creativity. By making a figure  that has only a front and a back you are forced into thinking about the importance of different elements of the figure. What is important for you to include and what can be left to the viewer’s imagination. We will look at shape, scale and personal symbolism. We also look at using textile related materials when making faces and explore tearing of fabric and how it can be used.                                                     

Figure made by Helen Layfield



Workshop 2 –  Multi piece figure – 2.5 Hours – £25

Sunday  – January 22 2023 & April 9 2023 – 6;30 – 9pm UK

 Friday  – January 27 2023 &  April 14 2023 –   6 – 8:30pm UK time

This course allows an exploration of making separate elements of the figure. Head, body , arms and legs can all be added separately. This allows for a greater degree of creativity as you are not limited to making a figure that corresponds to a traditional format.

We will also look at wrapping and how it can be used within figurative work.                        

Workshop 3 – Standing figure  – 2.5hours – £25

Sunday – January 29 2023 & April 16 2023 – 6:30 – 9pm UK time

Friday – February 3 2023 & April 21 2023 – 6 – 8:30 UK time

The standing figure course begins your exploration of making a freestanding figure in a simple technique that can be adapted in many different ways. We explore two different body shapes and consider different techniques for arms and hands, legs and feet.

Workshop 4 – Pyramid figure  – 2.5 hours – £25

Sunday – February 5 2023 & April 23 2023 6:30 – 9pm UK

Friday – February 10 2023 & April 28 2023 –  6-8:30pm UK 


A unique shape that, due to its non traditional figurative form, allows for your imagination to really run wild. A chance to make something unique and completely different.                                                             

Figures made by Heather Tinkham USA.

Workshop 5 – Coil Basket figure – 2.5 hours – £25 

Sunday – February 12 2023  & April 30 2023 6:30 – 9 pm UK time

Friday – February 17 2023 & May 5 2023 – 6 – 8:30 UK time

The body of this figure is a basket, which you make from recycled materials. Once we have mastered that technique you can explore many different ways to add the other figurative elements.                               

Figure made by DonNiece K Smith USA

Workshop 6 – Faceless figure – 2.5 hours – £25

Sunday – February 19 2023 & 7 May 2023 6:30 – 9pm UK

February 24 2003 & May 12 2003 –  6 – 8:30 pm UK time

Artists have used faceless figures for many different reasons, we explore the importance of facial features and how to create figures with no features. A workshop that helps you to question the importance and symbolism within a human face.      

 Figure made by Carolina Berta – Uruguay

Mother 2021

Workshop 7 – Gourd figure – 2.5 hours – £25

Sunday – February 26 2023 & May 14 2023 – 6:30 – 9pm UK time
Friday – March 3 2003 & May 19 2003 – 6 – 8:30 UK time

A second free standing figure. The figure is created with a traditionally sculptural method starting in the center with an armature of stuffing and fabric and building your figure around it.
Figure by Helen Layfield