Fabric Surface Embellishment Techniques and Importance

Embellishment or ornamentation or decoration is anything that enhances the appearance of garments or fashion accessories and add more value in terms of money that are normally added or attached to fabrics without actually having any functional purpose. In sewing and crafts an embellishment is the action of adding anything decorative items through the use of the visual arts. There are various methods and techniques for embellishment of fabric or garment.

Fabric Surface Embellishment:
Fabric embellishments are the ornamentation that normally added to fabrics to make them more beautiful and gorgeous, because of the nature of decorative patterns, which they create. Different kinds of surface design techniques are used for embellishing the fabric. Most common materials that can be used for this process include fringe, boutiques, beads, and buttons.

Fabric Surface Embellishment Techniques
Fig: Fabric surface embellishments

Different Types of Embellishment Techniques:

1. Surface embellishment techniques:
Surface embellishment is an important component of free form; it is a great way of bringing your personality, style and skills to your work and putting your own stamp on your project. In fashion designing, there are 1000’s of ways to embellish fabrics, garments and any other items.

2. Textile embellishment techniques:
Textile embellishment can take many forms, with pattern work following the suggestion of nature, the geometrical abstract, fonts and lettering. It can be perceived as a subtlety, the changing of color, line and texture, or it can be much bolder, using large-scale shapes and patterns. Whatever the technique or suggestion for composition, the end result is always nearly the same, to make something more than it was, to add decoration to enhance its attraction to the individual.

3. Embellishment in decorative arts:
Embellishment techniques are not only applied on the surface of fabric and textiles, it is also applying any kind of decorative items. Ceramics, glass, metal, wood in fact all the major and minor decorative arts, used embellishment, as a legitimate tool in which to decoratively enhance their results.

Types of fabric embellishment techniques in sewing and crafts:
Here I will mention the types of embellishment techniques that are used to decorate surface design on fabric or garments.

  1. Embroidery
  2. Quilting
  3. Appliqué
  4. Patchwork
  5. Trimming (Fringe trim, Sewing trim)
  6. Lacework (either pre-made or home-made)
  7. Piping (made from either self-fabric, contrast fabric, or a simply a cord.)
  8. Beads
  9. Batik
  10. Smocking
  11. Printing

Some other embellishment items that are used on garments for enrich beauty. For example:

  • Buttons
  • Zippers
  • Buckles
  • Grommets
  • Sequins

In addition to the multitude of construction and finishing techniques used, the fabric can also be worked upon or embellished in a variety of ways to enhance its surface. Most embellishing methods, such as embroidery, quilting, applique and bead-work are age-old techniques of decorating fabric and are still largely executed by hand. A specialized industrial sector in trimmings, lacework, embroidery and other embellishments has also developed that uses innovative technology to recreate the hand-worked effects on an industrial scale and pace.

Fabric Surface Embellishment Techniques:
A few fabric and garment embellishment techniques are briefly discussed in below:

1. Embroidery:
Fabric embellishment with stitches in yarn or thread, using a needle, is one of the oldest forms of art. While the library of embroidery includes hundreds of varieties of stitches, they can be categorized broadly into four main techniques – raised work or stump-work where raised effects are created by stitching over pads of wool and cotton; couched work – creating a pattern with cords by sewing them onto the base fabric; fl at running and filling stitches of which there are hundreds; and counted thread embroidery, e.g. needlepoint and cross stitch, where the stitches are placed over a counted number of threads of the base fabric. Schiffli embroidery is an example of machine embroidery made on the ‘Schiffli’ machine that works sideways with a thousand needles. This machine embroiders with a top, decorative and a back, binding yarn, and is used for making laces and sheer curtain fabrics. Many embroidery stitches can now be produced in digitized embroidery machines which, for large scale production, have multiple heads to produce a number of identical designs simultaneously using an embroidery software program.

Machine Embroidery
Fig: Embroidery

2. Quilting:
Quilting is the technique of embellishing fabrics stitching together, by hand or machine, multiple layers of fabric with a filling of cotton, foam or polyester batting in between the layers. Quilting is widely used for making bedspreads, quilts, comforters etc. Single-needle, hand-guided quilting machines are used for making outline quilting, where the stitching lines follow the outlines of the print design, vermicelli, which uses free motion all-over stitching patterns, and trapunto or Italian quilting, a form of ‘couching’ where a cord inserted and stitched between the fabric layers creates a raised pattern. In mass-scale automated production, multiple-needle machine quilting is used to make simple geometric patterns. In stitch-less quilting, multiple layers of fabric are fused together thermally or by an adhesive, creating the appearance of being stitched.

Fig: Quilting

3. Applique:
In applique, small pieces of fabric or other material are couched or stitched onto a base fabric. In reverse appliqué, the base fabric is on top of the stitched fabric and the top fabric is cut out to reveal the appliqued fabric underneath.

Fig: Applique

4. Patchwork:
Patchwork, used mostly for making bed quilts and cushions, is the technique of creating a fabric layer by joining small pieces of fabric (traditionally scraps of old clothes or textiles) in geometric or abstract patterns. Being a hand-worked technique, it is mostly produced on a small scale.

Fig: Patchwork

5. Trimming:
Two types of trimmings are most popularly applied on fabric or garments for decoration. Such as:

  • Fringe trim: Fringe is an ornamental textile trim, applied to an edge of an item, such as drapery, dress ends, a flag, epaulettes, or decorative tassel, etc.
  • Sewing trim: sewing Trim or trimming in clothing and home decorating is applied to ornament or Embellishing fabrics such as gimp, ribbon, ruffles, button, bias tape, etc.
Fig: Trimmings

6. Lacework:
Lace is an openwork fabric, patterned with open holes in the work, made by machine or by hand. Lace is another Embellishing items on fabric. It is the very common and ancient craft to Embellishing fabrics.

Fig: Lacework

7. Piping:
Piping is a type of trim or embellishment, which is used to Embellishing fabrics for making different style line. Usually the fabric strip is cut on the bias, and often it is folded over a cord. It may be made from either self-fabric (the same fabric as the object to be ornamented) or contrasting fabric, or of leather.

Fig: Piping on dress

8. Beads:
Beads are other types of embellishment. Beadwork is made by needle and thread to stitch beads to Embellishing fabrics, suede, or leather.

Fig: Beads on dress

9. Batik:
Batik is a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. For Embellishing fabrics batik is the very popular embellishment technique.

Fig: Batik on pillow

10. Smocking work:
Smocking is an embroidery technique, used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Before elastic, smocking was commonly used in cuffs, bodices, and necklines in garments, where buttons were undesirable.

Canadian smocking design
Fig: Canadian smocking design

Fabric Manipulation:
There are different types of fabric manipulation techniques. They include: Embellishment through addition, Beads and beading, embellishment through subtraction and construction techniques.

Embroidery and Fabric Manipulation:

  • Gathering
  • Shirring
  • Pleating
  • Tucking
  • Smocking
  • Quilting

Embellishment through Addition:

  • Applique/ Applied works
  • Couching
  • Stitching/ Hand stitching
  • Beads and Beading

Embellishment through Subtraction:

  • Decoupe/ Reverse technique
  • Cutwork
  • Drawn thread
  • Pulled work

Beads and Beading:

  • Tambour work
  • Hand beading
  • French beading

Construction Techniques:

  • Patchwork
  • Applied patchwork
  • Long cabin patchwork
  • Crazy patchwork

You may also like: Dart Manipulation Techniques for Flat Patterns

Importance of Fabric Embellishment:
Embellishment is essential for both male and females fabrics if enhance the beauty. There must be some limits of embellishment for male fabrics and even for female fabrics. The age of the end consumer plays a vital role in the fabric embellishment. It also depends upon the likes and dislikes of individual which vary from individual to individual.

Significance and importance of embellishment of garment:

  1. Embellishment is important as decorative detail or feature added to something to make it more attractive.
  2. Add value to the fabric.
  3. To make a product better than what it is already.
  4. To add beauty and increase profit in fabric.
  5. Make fabric good according to the taste and demand of consumer.
  6. Make fabric elegant and attractive with different techniques.
  7. Inner satisfaction is important for self confident; if embellishment gives inner satisfaction then yes it is important.

You may also like:

  1. Why Fashion Accessories Important in Fashion Industry
  2. List of Garment Accessories: Types, Features, Functions and Uses
  3. Different Types of Garments Accessories with Pictures
  4. Different Types of Trims Used in Garments
  5. Interlining in Garments – Complete Know How
  6. Interlining: Types, Functions, Uses, Advantages & Disadvantages
  7. Different Types of Buttons Used in Garments
  8. Button and Buttonhole: Types, Techniques and Machines
  9. Garment Trimmings – An Overview

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