Sunday, May 3, 2020

Weekend Review: Embellishments A-Z

If you are currently one of the many people staying home, and finding more time for sewing, maybe you're starting to think about projects that take a little more time or effort. If so, I have some ideas for extra details and embellishments that you might be interested in exploring, all found on my bookshelf.

I do have quite a few sewing and textile art books in my collection, and this month I will share some of the interesting ideas from these books. Maybe I'll even be inspired to use some myself ;)

Embellishments A-Z / Stephanie Valley
Newton, CT: Taunton Press, c1999.
168 p.
I'll start with this small coil bound book. It's part of a larger series by the Taunton Press, and has lots of interesting ideas in it. The techniques can be used for textile art, for quilting, and also for preparing personalized details in your garment sewing. There is a wide variety shown in this book, more than you'd expect for its size. 

The book is laid out in sections, with different techniques described in each. I'm particularly fond of things like bias binding and piping, so was pleased to see mention of them -- the only technique I hadn't seen before was shirred piping, when the casing for your piping is gathered up around the cord, giving it quite a decorative appearance. 

I also like the illustrations and suggestions for using basic stitching to great advantage, particularly in the couching and decorative machine stitching sections. I can see using these to decorate a panel of a garment before putting a piece together. 

In the section on machine embroidery, she also demonstrates bobbin work, which is using heavier decorative threads in the bobbin and stitching from the wrong side, essentially. And there is also information about the cable stitch, a raised, looped stitch made from setting your tension differently and using decorative threads. 

There are also ideas for fancier fabric manipulation -- the chapter on velvet is particularly fascinating. While I've seen velvet embossed with rubber stamps previously (she does go over this also) the part I found clever was using simple household items to create great effects. The velvet below has been embossed using a wire rack, but it looks fabulous. 

There are other ways to manipulate fabrics, like sewing all kinds of tucks -- pintucks, crossed tucks, etc -- an effect I really like. You might also want to slice and reassemble fabric using weaving techniques. I've tried a few of these kinds of projects when working on textile arts, but never thought about using them to create fabrics to use for clothing. It's giving me some ideas.

In each chapter, the projects move from easy to challenging, and are clearly marked as to their difficulty levels. There are many, many clear photographs of each technique, and clearly explained steps for each. 

If you're looking for a way to add an extra element of pizzazz to your projects, this is a good basic guide to some new decorative ideas. I would recommend it to anyone interested in adding something truly individual to a project or two. 


  1. Interesting!
    never heard of this book before.
    Thanks for the great review...

    1. It's one I found second-hand but it's a good quick reference for many techniques.

  2. I love these books, but so rarely actually use the embellishments. Maybe I should slow down, and not be in a rush for a finished project. Normally I am so excited if a garment fits that I stop there!

    1. I know what you mean -- I have a good number of these books, I enjoy looking through them, I think that some of these ideas are just gorgeous -- then I rush to finish a garment without adding any. I am hoping that sharing some of my favourites will make me feel more obliged to share a relevant project soon!!


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