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Echoed Embellishment Technique

A creative process to design coordinating textiles
Threads #195, Feb./March 2018
Multicolored topstitching captures the striped textile’s vibe.

I love to experiment with embellishment techniques. As a result, I have a closet filled with samples I’ve made of stitching, appliqué, stenciling, painting, quilting, color-blocking, beading—the list is endless. My goal is to apply these techniques to garments so that the adornment relates organically to the whole design. However, it can be a challenge to translate embellishment ideas into great garment designs. 

An approach I’ve found inspiring is to “echo” a fabric’s print. Here is the thought process I use to develop a successful echoed embellishment.

Reflect and repeat

First, look closely at your fabric. Study the fabric’s color, texture, and print. Choose features that can become a coherent design. I identify an element I’m drawn to and echo it to make a companion fabric. It is not an exact copy, but is reminiscent of the original or has shared characteristics.  

You might isolate a motif that can be replicated in an appliqué, quilting, or beads. Maybe your fabric has a texture that can be mimicked with pleating or stitching. It can be a literal translation or merely a suggestion of the original element. Changing the color or scale of the motif can also create an interesting effect.  

Echoing enables me to create coordinating fabrics, so I can combine textiles of different fiber contents into a cohesive garment or outfit. As you’ll see in the examples on these pages, I’ve worked with two different printed fabrics, both suited to pairing with a gold wool fabric. By echoing the print motifs, I transformed the wool into a perfect companion fabric. 

Experiment creatively

I enjoy the process of sampling different versions and of producing an original design that fully expresses my style. As you work on samples, collect information: Assess how much time…

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