Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & Giveaway

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.

Creating Couture Embellishment UK US cover final front HR Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & GiveawayChapter 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.

Jill Case Image 6 Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & GiveawayTucks

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

Jill Case image 1 Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & GiveawayPleats

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.

Jill Case Image 2 Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & GiveawayQuilting

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.

Jill Case Image 4 Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & GiveawayBias

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.

Jill Case Image 5 Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & GiveawayPiping and Cording

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).

Jill Case Image 3 Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & GiveawayThis is just a small sampling of what is offered in this book. In addition you’ll find full-color how tos on:

  • Passementerie
  • Appliqué
  • Braids
  • Fringe, pompoms, and tassels
  • Feathers
  • Beads and sequins
  • Crystals and nail heads, lace
  • Lace trim
  • Eyelets, grommets, and lacing
  • Hand and ribbon embroidery
  • Decorative ribbons
  • Flowers

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

 Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & Giveaway

About Jill

I write for the Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery blogs. I love sewing, vintage and would love to get a comment from you!
This entry was posted in Sewing Inspiration and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to Creating Couture Embellishment: A Review & Giveaway

  1. Kate Davis says:

    From this review it looks like the book will inspire much more experimenting than I am even dreaming of now! I love, love, love beading but more realistically I think learning to really nail a wider variety of pleats would stand me in very good stead. Thanks for the chance to win this resource!

  2. Nancy Oatley says:

    I want to do it all! Elegant quilting is a start

  3. Dior says:

    I would love to learn how to sew lace for slips. We can’t get enough slips in ready to wear that are beautiful!

  4. Lisa D says:

    I am planning a blouse with hand embroidery. I have plenty of experience with embroidery but not on clothes. I would like to learn more about pleats and tucks, and how they can shape a garment. Working with feathers seems way out there to me, but I can imagine using beading in a limited way. Lots of ideas to explore in this book!

  5. Talia Orr says:

    I would like to try the ruffles. I have dresses that I would like to length at the hem and embellish neck and back portions of my dresses (church girl) and ANYTHING to embellish my quilts more!!

  6. Annie Mullin says:

    I’d like to learn trapunto–I’m just starting work on a replica of corded and quilted stays from the V&A for a reenactment outfit. :-)

  7. This looks like a wonderful book. So much information to learn. First I would like to learn how to make tucks and piping for my granddaughter’s clothes. I know she would love the extra special touches they would bring.

  8. Connie Hallberg says:

    This book sounds great! I would like to learn more about pleats. I would like to use them in a jacket and as trim in jacket pockets.

  9. Connie Hallberg says:

    This book looks really interesting! I would like to learn more about pleats.

  10. Jean DeSavage says:

    I would love to learn to do the pleats with folded points like in the Aug/Sept issue of Sew News, the blouse front with all the points at different levels! I love any kind of intricate detail on garments. Now that I finally have my own dress-form, I can make my own garments, and have them fit well.

  11. Sara says:

    I would love to learn ribbon work and cover the bodice of a formal gown with it. Oh but the ruffles for everyday wear! Just a day dress dressed up a bit…so hard to choose just one!

  12. Judy Haberstroh says:

    I would like to learn more about embroidery to decorate some of my garments, especially ribbon embroidery.

  13. Celina Hardin says:

    I would love to learn more about beading, as well as piping seams. I would love to pipe or bead the collar of a silky, satiny blouse for Christmas.

  14. Sandi Pratt says:

    I dream of making beautiful little pin-tucks on a lovely blouse. I would love to have this book to travel outside of my sewing comfort zone ! I’m already drooling !

  15. I would like to learn more about bias and ruffles to create elegant well fitting garments. I sew ball gowns for my beautiful daughter. My next deadline is early September.

  16. Rochelle Jenkins says:

    The description of the book makes me feel like I’m at a virtual smorgasbord – I don’t know where to start. Should I start with an appetizer of applique, moving on to the main course of pleating, or should I make it light and have a small soupcon of bias? So many decisions! As I love the effect of different trims and the various materials that you utilize when making them, I think I’ll just have an order of the “Passementerie” because after all I am watching my figure.

  17. Orla V. says:

    Brimming with information and inspiration – sounds wonderful!

    I always love to try and make items that are that little bit out of the ordinary. The complexity of the tucks illustrated looks fascinating, and I would love to attempt the effect.

    Thank you!

  18. Would love to learn how to make the various accessories an how to embellish garments . Like the feathered collar in the picture.

  19. Veronica says:

    What a wonderful sounding book!

    I’d love to learn to do piping on my seams in a better way! Though I’m sure I could incorporate many of these embellishments in my short-term sewing projects (a new baby in the family and grown daughter coming back to the roost :) )

  20. Patricia K Dalton says:

    I love pleates or tucks where you hide a vertical strip and make the top part a solid and the bottom the strips show or variations of this. I really like tucks of any style. I also like weaving fabric. I made one top out of woven ribbons on top of a backing fabric.

  21. V Abney says:

    I think I would like to delve deeper into the use of beads and sequins.

  22. Piping! I’ve created piping for the borders of a quilt, I would love to try it on a garment! Thanks for the giveaway!

  23. Kathy Zachry says:

    I love piping, vouching, tucks, and embroidery. Id love to learn how to take these embellishments to the next level.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

  24. Sylvia says:

    I would like to learn more about using piping and cording to tastefully embellish clothing. Also interested in learning more about ruffles.

  25. Cindy S. says:

    I’d like to learn how to add piping, as well as machine embroidery. I would like to learn to add them as delicate details, rather than something that stands out and looks like it was added, if that makes any sense.

  26. Ashlee says:

    Omg wow amazing! I’d love to learn how to work with feathers!!!! Never done that before!!!!

  27. Lois Boncer says:

    Embellished buttonholes and fancy buttons. Also piping, fancy seams, and applique.

  28. Rachel says:

    I’m fairly new to sewing so, my mind is like a sponge when it comes to any new sewing information. In a recent project I battled with; what looked like, a very simple French seam. I did accomplish the task but, it does not look as nice as the picture shows. I would also like to master the dreadful bias tape. I like to use it on my sun dresses, collars and small quilting projects. Thank you for the opportunity to receive a free copy of this beautiful and very detailed book.

  29. Donna says:

    I’d love to learn more about ruffles. They are very much in style right now, but I’d like to see how to use them on a dress or skirt in an age-appropriate, sophisticated way, rather than looking like a renegade lampshade.

  30. Marilyn Garcia says:

    I always seem to make solid color garments which tend to be super boring!!! this book sounds like it would be right up my alley on how I can make garments more alluring and interesting. Would love to win this book and make my wardrobe more interesting.

  31. Marlene Clausen says:

    Faggoting has always fascinated me, especially on shoulder seams or upper bodice seams on a sundress.

  32. Lynn Kunz says:

    I would like to learn how to make pretty ruffles. Some of the tops I purchase (because I like the color, the fabric, the texture, etc.) have necklines wider than I would like. I would love to make a ruffle to add to the neckline to fill in, but also as a way to frame my face in a graceful manner.

  33. Susan Spiers says:

    Quilting-add to garments-brilliant! Thank you, Susan

  34. Susan MacLeod says:

    I love the piping used on the top. I’ve got some patterns that will look great on!

  35. Denise Link says:

    I am intrigued by tucks, and I vow that if I win the book, I’ll make and wear a blouse embellished with tucks! I’m rather afraid to embellish because I remember the tole painted/quilted/fringed sweatshirts of the 80s, but I know this book will have ideas that are sophisticated, not cheesy.

  36. Sherry Reed says:

    My passion for sewing began when I made my first pair of pants at the age of nine. It’s been well over 50 years and my love for sewing continues to grow. It’s one of my ways to relax and be productive at the same time! I would like to learn proper placement of bias binding and piping to enhance and personalize my garments. I’m anxiously awaiting the debut of “Creating Couture Embellishment”!

  37. Vicki Macina says:

    I would love to learn more about all the techniques you have shown here…..I have sewn for a long time, love to learn new skills.

  38. Marilyn in Alberta says:

    I would love to learn more about piping.

  39. Kris Peters says:

    Would love to learn how to use new quilting techniques to add to my sewing projects.

  40. P J Benefield says:

    Everything about this book appeals to my creative nature, so I just want to do it ALL !!! But, if I had to choose only one technique, it would be Piping and Cording. I love the broad range of applications for piping/cording, from casual wear to the most formal gowns. It can give almost any garment the WOW factor!

  41. The book looks wonderful. I’m interested in learning more about Passementerie. I have a vintage pattern for a jacket that would be much enhanced by Passementerie embellishment

  42. Anita Scott says:

    I’m with you on the piping and cording. Love the look and detail it gives to the seems. I tried it once many years ago and failed miserably, became so frustrated with just trying to make it to use (probably because I didn’t have the proper tools) I never tried it again.

  43. Maduako chizoba says:

    I really love sewing but can’t seem to get my ruffles and tucks right will love to get your book but I am in Nigeria. How do I get it will be thrilled to have it

  44. Chris says:

    I’d like to learn how to use quilting techniques to make wonderful, unique clothing that only I will have…but it will look couture. Perhaps some piping or pintucks could be added to add to that special look. The ideas are flowing!!! :-)

  45. Carol Betts says:

    I would love to make a quilted jacket then add embellishments

  46. Sally Bussey says:

    I thought I would say the flower embellishments but after looking at the book preview I can’t decide which technique I will start with!

  47. Maryl says:

    I’d like to improve my quilting techniques so I can make an elegant jacket.

  48. Helen Sandoz says:

    I am very attracted to the pleats and how releasing them allows flow in the garment. All the ideas shown are interesting.

  49. I would love to learn to do tucks, they are so tiny yet add so much structure in a very feminine way. Plus, the techniques to do them would be an addition to my ever growing repertoire! I would add it to one of the shirts I make to wear to work.

  50. Cheryl Fillion says:

    Looks like a gorgeous book! I’d like to learn just enough quilting, trapunto, etc., for embellishing garments, and not to become a quilter.