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What comes first in your sewing concept–the garment or its embellishment?

Feb 21, 2012
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Threads magazine no. 160 (April/May 2012) is due on newsstands on 3/6/12.

In the latest issue of Threads (April/May 2012) which will be on-sale on 3/6, we asked the authors featured on the Contributors page: “What comes first in your sewing concept–the garment or its embellishment?” As one might expect, the author’s responses were varied. Patricia Keay (“One Pattern, Endless Options”), Diane Ericson (“Embellishments: Painted textiles”), Jacque Goldsmith (“Garment Industry Secrets), and Jennifer Stern-Hasemann (“Embroidery Essentials: Make lace”) were the featured authors. It’s always interesting to see how the same question can be answered in so many different ways!

My inspiration generally comes from one of three areas. My most frequent sewing inspiration comes from a garment I’ve seen in a store, a magazine, or on someone else. It’s usually something I totally love, and I know that I could copy it. Second, I am often inspired by a pattern I’ve discovered in a pattern book or online, and I fall in love with it. Third, my inspiration–or maybe it’s more like motivation–comes when I’m planning to attend a special event, and I want to wear something new and spectacular to the event. In each case the garment and it’s potential embellishment are both part of the inspiration. It’s the look I want, and the embellishment is equal in importance to the garment.

How would you answer this question? Do you find the most inspiration from the style of a garment or from an embellishment you yearn to use? Share your thoughts with us below.

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  1. Promiseoby August 12th

    I am a detailed person.Everything come together but i think colour come to me first because that is what sets my mood.

  2. User avater user-950638 March 29th

    For me sometimes the material comes first, I see something I love and my mind goes in a 100 directions trying to decide what the final project will be, then it's finding the embellishments. Other times I can be at a craft fair and a fancy button or trim catches my eye and I'm off to search to fabric stash to see what can be created with my new find. It's great to use your imagination when you create, I think that's why I love to sew

  3. User avater Lady2k7 March 10th

    I plan my item then embellishments come later. Usually the embellishments are available during the garment creation, which are handy as the garment is built on my dress form. I drape then trim and create from that point.

  4. kmegamom March 7th

    My project comes first in most cases and then as I am making the item I start to think of embellishments that might work on it. I am not very creative when it comes to embellishments, so that is why I need to have the project well on it's way before I can think of what else to put on it!

  5. beadembroiderer March 4th

    I always seem to think about embellishments before anything else. My reasoning is: there are many different possibilities for fabrics and patterns, but if you have embellishment in mind first, the process just progresses to one pattern and a good choice of fabric. I think these all are really done somewhat together, and you never know where you will find inspiration. I came across some embroidery border transfers, hard to find, and then thought of a shrug made out of a silky fabric, embroidered with rayon and silk threads and beads to make feature of the flowers. that's a recent example. I also made the Koos scarf out of a package of batik strips and that came out great, too. The next one will have some sort of embellishment. Love you guys at threads!!!

  6. User avater judithann March 1st

    My inspiration is nature most often...and I tend to get material THEN I know basically what I would like to see the material as, then buy it, then find one of my patterns. I have basic patterns and my own collection of tshirt patterns/ basic pants patterns etc. I do not do a lot of embeliishment with the exception of buttons, but I am planning to learn and use paint this summer.

  7. islandpeach March 1st

    No matter how gorgeous or creative the embellishment on a garment, it is first and foremost a garment. That garment can be diminished by bad design or bad fit or even embellishment inappropriate to the design of the garment.
    All that said, I guess it is a matter of personal taste but for me, the design of the garment comes first and embellishment follows.

  8. KimsIdleHands February 29th

    Generally my garments are boring. I don't "see" embellishment until the gament is finished, and in many cases it is then too late.

    THere are so many wonderful trims and ideas I read about.

  9. Sewing2enjoying February 28th

    As I am looking over the pattern considering the fabric at the same time, I visualize the end product and decide at that time if embellishment would be an improvement and if so, what type. It goes from there.

    There are times, however, when I love to design from my stash and sometimes this includes embellishment "stash". It is fun to design some little something and utilize some stored fabric and trims when it turns out really well and there is some child or maybe even an adult in your life that loves what you have done. If only they knew how much fun I had doing it!

  10. User avater Piecemaker February 28th

    If it were not for the garment, there would be nothing to embellish. Every once in a long while, I find an embellishment that calls out for a garment. Usually I have a number of patterns I am waiting to make and find one perfect for that particular embellishment. On a whole, however, the garment comes first~the garment leads the embellishment concept.

  11. SewcietyMaven February 28th

    Why must there be a limit to inspiration? As long as I have eyes to see and fingers to feel I would give my senses the true credit. When I go into a fabric store I feel as though I am absorbing the colors, the textures, the ability to drape or hold shape. When I go to the fabric district for the day I often feel overwhelmed, but at the same time unable to pull myself away.
    Magazines, pattern books, couture design... just breathe it in.

  12. forbusiness February 28th

    What is going to look good on my figure? What style or construction details are going to flatter my shape and make me look amazing? What is going to bring out the glow in my complexion. The fabric, the color and the style is most important before I even cut the pattern. I have found that while constructing the pattern that somehow it still needs shaping. How to shape and give life to the garment I am still learning. But garment construction is high on the priority list.

  13. User avater divanina February 28th

    For me, it really depends. Most of the time, I look at a garment when it's nearly done and decide "Hey, this could use some embellishment." But there are plenty of times that I've seen trim or buttons I adore and decide to make something just to highlight those.

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