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Conversational Threads

What kinds of embellishments do you like

Deana | Posted in Talk With Us on

What kinds of embellishments do you like to use on your garments? What are you a master at? What would you like to know more about?<!—-><!—-> <!—->

Deana Tierney, Associate Editor, Threads


  1. fiberfan | | #1

    I get stuck between knowing how I want the finished garment to feel and what kind of embellishment(s) to use.  An article with different artists talking about how they design embellishments would be great.


    1. sewingdeb | | #29

      I like the idea of a artical based on mistakes.  I vote yes.

  2. jatman | | #2

    I like to use bias cut silk strips to embellish collars and cuffs of t-shirts.  I also like using ribbon and lace.  I once made a t-shirt that turned out way too low cut to wear so I added lace around the neckline which made it better than it would have been if I hadn't made that mistake - so I'd like to see an article of embellishment to correct errors without it looking like you were trying to hide something.  An article on using fabrics with metallics in them would be interesting.  I've used some of these for embellishments and found that I have to take special care to not have them against my skin as they are really scratchy.  I'd also like to see an article on using a serger vs. a sewing machine to do some finishing/embellishing like a lettuce edge trim.  I've been on the verge of buying a serger for a couple of years now and just haven't been able to take the plunge because I'm not sure I need it.  I'd also like to see an article on stamping designs into velvet and making it last past the first washing or dry cleaning.


    1. MaryinColorado | | #3

      Floriani No Show Mesh Fusible Cutaway Stabilizer is the best thing I've found for close to the skin.  I use it under embroideries, especially for baby items.  It works under embellishments too.  This is the only Flesh colored one I have been able to find. 

      I would like to see an article on serger lace making and embellishing with the serger.  There are so many uses for the serger, I use it more than I ever imagined. 

      I would love an article on pieced clothing that doesn't look dowdy or fluffy also.  Somethjing more flowing and drapey.  Such as a skirt with triangle and diamond shaped pieces and pointed hems.  Jackets with creative insertions.  Preferably of silks and rayons.  Mary


    2. sewingdeb | | #28

      I love sergers for knits.  The differential stretches the material just enough and finishes the edges beautifully. Finishing edges on wovens is a bit iffy and a usually a bad idea unless it's heavy wovens like denim.  Buy a serger, you'll find out what you've been missing. 

      1. jatman | | #30

        I'm starting to come around to that.  I really like to sew with knits and I think it would be incredibly encouraging to get some really professional looking results. 

        About a week after my first post, I got my 'Gifts to Make' magazine and in there was a small article on embellishing velvet with stamps.  Thank you Threads!


        1. sewingdeb | | #31

          I'm  glad to hear you are thinking seriously about a serger.  I don't think you'll regret it.

  3. starzoe | | #4

    I have always sewn t-shirts, for myself, my friends and my (female) relatives and am always looking for different embellishments to use. Here is one that I think I invented. When the t-shirt is finished completely, take an oval or round crocheted doiley (available in dollar stores and fabric stores) about 4" round - larger or smaller, your choice-, applique it to the shoulder with a zigzag stitch and then cut away the t-shirt under the crochet.

    You can see that this presents a lot of innovative possibilities. I even appliqued one to the front of a shirt that had a spaghetti sauce stain, then cut away the unwanted stain.

    I still fondly remember a while cotton knit dress I wore to my 30th anniversary high school reunion which got a lot of attention. It had little cap sleeves, with the crochet part overlapping the sleeve hem.

    If you are in a hurry, do this to a (horrors!) ready-to-wear t-shirt and no one is the wiser. You will get compliments, I promise.

    1. Gloriasews | | #5

      Nice idea with the doilies, Starzoe!  I've also seen fan quilts made with the fan being 1/4 of a larger dollar store doily, rather than the pieced strips & it was quite pretty (but feminine).


  4. Gloriasews | | #6

    Deana, any kind of embellishment is of interest to us!  I use applique, ribbon, ric rac, piecing, quilting & embroidery stitches for my embellishments.  So, keep those articles coming!  We're all ears & eyes!


  5. solosmocker | | #7

    Deana, I have tried quite a few embellishment techniques over the years. Felting truly appeals to me and I am seriously shopping for a felter. I like different texture, whether it is pin tucks, "wrinkling", couching, that sort of thing. I like the idea of being able to alter my fabric to make it complimentary in different parts. In other words, the body of the garment is using the fabric as is, but maybe the collar and cuffs are embellished with felting. I love to try new techniques.

    Edited 10/14/2007 5:27 pm ET by solosmocker

    1. starzoe | | #8

      What is a felter? I have felted many projects in the washing machine, but have not heard of an actual "felter".

      1. solosmocker | | #14

        It looks like a sewing machine. There is no place for thread, no bobbin. It has a special set of 5-7 barbed needles in an acrylic tube that will punch the roving or threads into the garment. Some use it for fabrics other than wool but that is what I would like it for. I used to do a lot of surface embellishment and this takes the thread frustrations out of the equation. Maybe it substitutes them for something else LOL! Sewing with Nancy has it online and its called the FabFelter and I believe made by Babylock. solo

        1. starzoe | | #15

          OK, I see what you mean - it does the same job as hand needle-felting. Thanks for the info. I have friends who are weavers/spinners/hand needle felters, and I will check if they know about this....U.

  6. stitcherjean | | #9

    I like to use ribbon embroidery together with small charms.  I made a crazy quilt vest of different textured fabrics and embroidered a few flowers and sewed on a bee and a watering can watering the flowers and few other things.  This pulled the whole vest together.

  7. quixotesmom | | #10

    I like to create fabrics using embellishment techniques from silks, laces, etc. Any article showing creative use is great.

  8. rodezzy | | #11

    How about "how to embellish on stretchy fabrics, sheer fabrics, stretch knits and the like?"  How do you proceed with those?  How do you hide embellishments on sheers?  I mean the workings and give them stability?

    Edited 10/18/2007 12:48 pm ET by rodezzy

  9. Ralphetta | | #12

    I've often found that using the same fabric as the garment is both economical and adds richness without becoming gaudy.  MANIPULATING FABRIC is one of my favorite books; it illustrates many different ways of shirring, tucking,smocking, appliqueing, etc.  Those techniques create a completely different textured version of the same fabric that can then be applied wherever and however you want.  I like the way it looks like an integral part of the design rather than something "added" on.


  10. Tatsy | | #13

    I like using embellishments to hide/disguise structural elements, such as beading facings to keep them in place, beading hems to hide the hand stitches, using decorative stitches to hem or replacing hems with bindings, bands, ruffles, or flounces, using decorative buttons to hide tucks at the waist, adding seams to avoid darts, and all sorts of pockets. The beaded hem idea came from your article on picked zippers. The button tucks came from an article on how to avoid darts.  That was one of my favorites.  I would like to see an article on more ways to hide structural elements like darts, facings, etc.

    1. MaryinColorado | | #16

      Me too!  What great ideas! 

      1. pinkit | | #17

        I believe that Viking is selling a felter machine.  I think they were promoting them at the last all day presentation that I went to.  I know some of the girls have been stopping by the sewing center to show projects they have felted to the managers.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #18

          Looks like great fun doesn't it?  Shhh, don't tell my grandkids, they do it by hand.  I'm afraid if they see it, we will just have to get one.  I'm trying to downsize here....but it is so tempting!  Mary

  11. Jannet | | #19

    I just love perfect fit and beautiful tailoring on Jackets and coats: a perfectly turned collar, set in pockets,  buttonholes, etc.  Forget embellishments give me precision.  I am proficient in none but I try.

  12. auntsuzzie | | #20

    ribbons, lace, beads, old jewelry, wonderful specialty yarns, ribbon embroidery,special threads in the bobbin,paint, foil, I am an encruster. and I love it! I would really like to learn much more about bobbin work. I still haven't gotten that quite the way I would like it. I doe very well with couching and attaching ruched ribbons with beads. working on crazy quilts helped me with that, but the bobbin thing continues to escape me.Thanx!!!


    1. rodezzy | | #22

      What is an encruster?

    2. solosmocker | | #23

      Wow-an encruster! That is something I would like to be, I think. I love to embellish also and cannot leave things alone sometimes. solo

      1. auntsuzzie | | #24

        you should try it, it's loads of fun! I was told that being an encruster was not necessarily good, but I don't care! it's more fun because there are no rules. you just keep adding and adding until your heart is happy. that way any thing you want to add too your project, you can. and the possibilities are endless!

        have fun!



  13. katina | | #21

    Hi Deana

    Last year you asked which designers we'd like to meet. I opted for Christian Francis Roth - his inlay work is superb! An article on this type of embellishment would be very welcome.



  14. User avater
    Villagedressmaker | | #25

    I have two favorite embellishments. I frequently make very fine piping. I usually make it out of the garment fabric, or sometimes I choose a complimenty fabric for the piping. I insert the piping at neck edges, cuff hems, jacket hems,etc.  When inserting a jacket lining, it is a fun surprise to insert a bias stripe, or plaid piping between the facing, and the lining.

     I also love to use corded pintucking for embellishments. This gives textural interest. I have used it on silk shantung with great success. The neckline of a silk jacket can be accentuated with pintucking, and then the cuffs can repeat the pattern. I plan the pintucking before cutting as the tucks reduce the size of the garment if added after cutting. I have also pintucked small pieces of self fabric, and then appliqued them on a garment.

  15. cynthia2 | | #26

    Hi Deana.  I'd love to see some articles on beading.  I've begun using beads and Swarovski crystals to embellish collars and cuffs and would really like to see ideas on how to use beads as well as technical articles on how best to apply and care for them.  Thanks for asking.

  16. From my Stash.... | | #27

    I enjoy pintucking (for example, last Christmas  season it was a pintucked taffeta "chanel"-style jacket with a sleeveless shell in the same taffeta without pintucks.  I added ruffles around the collar and cuffs in the taffeta without pintucks.

    I also enjoy felting with wonderful coloured roving to add distinctive touches.

    I have also painted, dyed and attached beads, sequins, lace, etc. to various articles (but I'm not an encruster - I like it kept more simple).

    That said, I don't consider myself a master of any of them as I always learn something new when talking with other craftspeople.

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