One of my goals in my personal sewing game is to slow down and enjoy the process. Sometimes when I start a project I’m so focused on finishing it and wearing it that I lose sight of opportunities to take my garment from okay to wow. When I slow down I start to think of adding this or that to the garment. Sewing French seams instead of using a serger; adding trim and flair to little details and so forth.
To align with my goals I’m reading the the stunning book Creating Couture Embellishment by Ellen W. Miller. This gorgeous book will show you step-by-step how to take your garments to the next level with embellishments. The book is beautiful. From the visual index in the front to the full-color photos (and 1,840 detailed illustrations) through out to the lengthy resource list at the end; this book is a keeper for fashion students, home sewists, professional seamstresses and collectors of fine books. Let’s have a closer look.
Chapter One is devoted to how-tos, tools you’ll need and basic information. Chapter Two is on fabric manipulation. You’ll learn how to do not one type of ruffle but seven. You’ll learn various techniques for pleating, tucks, runching, shirring, smocking and quilting (which is going to be hot this year as seen in Calvin Klein’s latest runway offerings). Chapter Three is an extensive section on embellishment how-tos. Everything is here, from braiding, hand embroidery, decorative appliqué, crystals and more.
Here are a few things you’ll learn.
Ruffles when done right, (according to your personal taste) can be elegant, sophisticated, childish or way over the top! That’s the fun of ruffles and flounces. In this section you’ll learn the basics of ruffles plus, double ruffles, circular flounces, spiral flounces, fishing line hems and serger lettuce hems.
This is what you’ll learn on tucks:
- The structure of tucks
- How to space tucks, calculating, marking and folding
- Plus, how to do blind tucks, centered tucks, double tucks, pin tuck, rippled tucks, and illusion tucks
The pleating section is extensive and like the tucks section Miller talks about the structure of pleats, calculating and then a how-to on knife pleats, box pleats, inverted pleats, edgestitched pleats, partial pleats, cartridge pleats, accordion pleats, sunray pleats and then an entire new section on wrinkled pleating.
Now is the time to add quilting embellishment to your garments. This section shows how to machine quilt, hand quilting and Seminole patchwork. Also included are Trapunto, Marseilles quilting, corded quilting, Boutis Provencal, and the Japanese technique of Sashiko. I have not seen this much how-to for quilting embellishment on garments in one book, at least recently.
Ah, bias. There can be a love hate relationship with bias. It’s beautiful but, bias cut garments can give even the pros fits. Bias cut embellishments however can be added to any garment (whether cut on the bias or not) and can give a classic or flamboyant flair. In this section you’ll learn how to make bias strips, proper positioning, inserting bias strips, Rouleau and tubing.
Piping and cording are two embellishments that are relatively easy to add in. This is top of my list. I love the look it gives to seam lines. What you do with piping is limited by your imagination and it’s a great way to add a pop of color. You’ll learn how to make your own piping and how to attach on corners, curves and joining two pieces with almost zero bulk. Plus find how-tos on using beads, cording and knots (five knot how-tos total).
- Fringe, pompoms, and tassels
- Beads and sequins
- Crystals and nail heads, lace
- Lace trim
- Eyelets, grommets, and lacing
- Hand and ribbon embroidery
- Decorative ribbons
This book is lovely to look at, drool over and dream about all the wonderful things you can make. I feel it’s main purpose however, is to move you to experiment, try new things, travel out of your sewing comfort zone.Which is exactly what I intend to do!
To be entered in to winning one signed copy of Creating Couture Embellishment by Ellen W. Miller, please leave me comment as to what embellishment technique you would like to learn and how you would apply it to a garment. One winner will be picked on August 1.
About the author
Ellen W. Miller taught at Boston’s School of Fashion Design, including classes in couture details, construction, and pattern drafting, for ten years. She has also worked in the theater as costumer, wardrobe mistress, and stage hand in the United States and Europe.
Photo Source: All images owned by Laurence King Publising