The Beautiful Details of Surface Ornamentation

Fabric Surface Embellishment Techniques

In sewing and crafts an embellishment is the action of adding anything decorative items through the use of the visual arts.

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.

Different Embellishing Techniques:

Surface embellishment:
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. There are 1000’s of ways to embellish fabrics, garments and any other items.

Textile embellishment:
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 colour, 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.

Embellishment in decorative arts:
Embellishment techniques are not only applied on the surface of fabrics 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 methods 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

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.

Techniques of Embellishing on Garments:
A few fabric surface embellishing techniques are briefly discussed in below:

Embellishing fabrics 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.

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.

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.


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.

Two types of trimming 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


Visit us to find the various fabrics with such beautiful ornamentation or DIY kits to create your own! We have you covered. Happy Shopping!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.