Friday, August 13, 2010

Sewing with Embellishments: Exploring a New Frontier

I wanted to thank you Guys for all of the nice compliments on my "Greek Goddess dress" reviewed in the last post. I think I made a good choice to use ribbon to embellish the dress in my last post.  I believe it was the trim that made my dress, because without it it was just a BORING white dress. Trust me it really was. But believe me before I came to that idea I had to take a quick and unsettling journey into the world of embellishments and trust me, I was holding my breath most of the way. From trims, to ribbons, to beads, to jewels............there's a whole world of embellishments out there.  

Originally I was looking for some jewels or stones I could add to the dress. This idea came from the pattern envelope. You can see it here.

The use of jewels seemed like a good option right? So I looked for stones and I was terrified at what I found. Now I'm sure if I had more time to look or even explored the World Wide Web I would have found some better options. But all I found at my local Jo-Ann's, Michaels, & Hancock's were acrylic jewels. Since my dress was white I wanted clear one's and the one's I found ABSOLUTELY screamed cheap. Immediately I knew I couldn't go the acrylic jewels route.

That's when I began checking out the ribbon and trims. I must have went through a few hundred before settling on the one I picked, and even then I wasn't completely sure it would work. I'm not very comfortable with the idea of using trims in my work. When I'm making my daughter's clothes I absolutely love to use trims, ribbons, bows, rick rack, etc. but never usually with my own. I tend to refrain from using trims and such for fear of taking my garment from gorgeous to gawdy.  I think it's a fine line between the two as far as embellishments are concerned---at least in my World.  Plus I'm a huge fan of printed fabric (particularly knits) and prefer to WOW my garments through the use of interesting fabric prints and/or really pretty jewelry. But I know with the right embellishment choices you can really beautify a garment. There are two types of embellishments that I'm very fond of that I don't use as often as I would like. They are fabric flowers and beads.  I have this book which has alot of great ways to make and use fabric flowers.

I have a beading book but can't think of it's name at the moment. I love beading but again rarely have a reason to use it and don't usually have the time it demands. I beaded a dress for a client a few years back and the small space of beading on the midriff of the dress took me 12 hours. It was crazy and alot of work!!! But ooooohhh so relaxing. I loved hand sewing the beads on. I love hand sewing:)

Now although I rarely use embellishments (especially for sewing for myself) I would like to change this. I'm interested in seeing what's out there. I have to rid myself of the notion that if I add trim to my clothes they'll all look cheap. Now I know I won't use embellishments in everything I sew---that's just not my astetic. But I feel more open to the notion now.  I'm currently on vacation and am making my rounds exploring fabric shops here in the Tampa, FL area.  I'll be keeping an eye out for some embellishments that I can add to my embellishment bin and possibly incorporate into a future project or two. My last project definitely warmed me up to the notion of using more embellishments.  So instead of going into the fabric store and only looking at fabrics, I'll be sure to check out the cute buttons, ribbons, trim, lace, etc. It's time I let my creative juices flow a little more.

How about you, do you normally incorporate embellishments into your projects? If so, where do you get them from? Anyone know of any great online sites? I'll do some searching and let you know what I find.


  1. I don't normally do embellishments because I'm in too much of a hurry to get it done and move on to the next thing on my list, but I have been thinking a little more about embellishments lately and how just the right embellishment would add just the right touch needed to make a garment a sensation. So I may look into that. I will be watching with interest to see what you come up with.


  2. I not too much into embellishments but have decided to add acrylic stones to my latest project. I think you were on of the people that said I should omit them but I didn't use that advice. In the end I think for my garment it was a good choice. Like you said I don't think they are for every garment but sometimes some trial and error will make you decide otherwise.

  3. I haven't ever used embellishments on my sewing, but I also make jewelry and I have a fantastic site for you!

    I buy all of my jewelry making supplies from them. They also have sew on swarovskis that look very high end. They also give a price break when you buy so many items and their prices are MUCH lower than anywhere I have found locally. Their shipping is low as well, and I want to say if you spend so much it is free. They have fantastic customer service as well.

    Also, I really like to check out etsy for trims, as well as MJ Trim.

    I haven't ordered from them, but I love so much of their stuff!

    Good luck!

  4. I don't use a lot of trims or embellishments but I really do think that the right choice in the right place can look fantastic. However, it can be hard to find the right thing. You would think that in London I would be able to get whatever I want but actually it isn't always easy - I have to run around all over town to find things!

  5. I'm an embellishment fan from way back, I remember in the 80's putting these gawdy embellishments on my lapels and I was all over last summer's embellishment trend. You're right it's a fine line between tasteful and gawdy but the only way you're going to find out is try it out.

  6. I look on ebay for embelleshments. What I like are mother-of-pearl flat shell beading, which you can sometimes find for a really inexpensive price. Also on ebay, I've recently bought a ton of bugle beads at about $1 per 25grams, with free shipping, so now I have a huge selection of colors. And of course, appliques. I keep them around just in case I may incorporate them into a piece to add flare. -- Katia

  7. I second fire mountain gems as a supplier--very good service and quality--and you can get real gemstones! I notice you follow Erica B's blog. She made a dress very similar to your white dress, in a lovely coral, and she embellished the waist with some sort of jewel/bead. Very striking. I think you if you are restrained (not like magpie me!), embellishment can really make clothing extraordinary.

  8. Victoria - I use alot of embellishments in my garments. I think it sets them apart from the normal RTW and give them class. To me embellishments are not just piping, ribbons, trim, but they are buttons too. Because the right button added to a garment can be like jewelry down the front of the garment...taking it from plain to wow!

    I have so much to say on this that I could write a blog post here but suffice it to say that once you learn the ins and outs of embellishing a garment you will be hooked!

  9. Like you, I am very interested in embellishing my projects. I recently posted a top with embellishments I'd glued on and love it! I plan on doing more. I also am a newbie to jewerly making and agree with Jennifer about, that's one of the websites I purchase from too. I really like going to the local beads stores, so I get to see and feel the different gemstones. There's one in Tampa I go to often called ibead. They have a website too...

    Here's a list of beads shops in your area, maybe one's close to you...


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and for following me on my 10,000 Hour Sewing Challenge:)


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