Science of Sewn Embellishments: “Creating Couture Embellishment”, the Book

A lovely review from Samina!

Sew Everything Blog

There have been countless books written on the art of embellishing a cloth surface or adding interest with “in-cloth” fabric manipulation.  I own a few, plus a few more stored on another shelf, and recently became the proud owner of Ellen Miller’s text-book size tome “Creating Couture Embellishment”.   The sheer size of the book distinguishes it from any other I’ve seen on this subject.

Images from the book used with kind permission from the author. Her website: . Use her contact page to find Ellen’s email and other contact information 🙂 .

shelf2 On the left:  400 pages of embellishment instruction, including glossary, awesome list of resources, and index

Right away, the cover got my attention, as any book should.  The image of an artful neckline embellished with feathers is stunning! Inside, we see the full image of the feather-embellished top, and looks quite wearable. Is that a boa? Or…

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“Stay”ing the Armhole: Tip From the Haute Couture

Samina shared this technique on her blog, Sew Everything Blog. I would never have thought of this or tried it, but she’s made a convert out of me. Thanks, Samina! What about you?

Sew Everything Blog

Balenciaga’s way:   In the book Couture Sewing, there’s a section on “stays”, with details on under-bust stays, pleat stays, waistline stays, and even crotch stays (yes, there is such a thing in haute couture).

claire's book Image from “Couture Sewing” by Claire Shaeffer, Taunton Press. 

This particular Balenciaga dress, circa 1965 actually uses a stay on each back armhole area in a capped sleeve to control pleats on the back of the shoulder. The stay, that strip of fabric you see in the image above on the wrong side of the dress, is sewn from the lower armhole facing to the shoulder seam at the neckline.  Balenciaga’s purpose was to control the back pleat (a design feature), and this little strappy, fabric stay seems to have worked beautifully.  I wasn’t successful in finding the back view of this dress which shows the back pleat at the shoulder.  Our imaginations will have…

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Perfect curves….well as perfect as I get anything!

This is a great post about sewing curves using freezer paper– a new technique for me, which I can’t wait to try!

The Lilac Cat


I love curves in quilting. And I love improv quilting so combine the two and it’s all good as far as I’m conccerned. I’ve been playing with curves again and this time took photos of the process so you can have a go.

The original plan was to make something and show how I’d done the curves but when I came to do a curved picture using this fabulous fabric from the Catnip range by Gingiber.


…it got a bit tricksy as the cat picture wasn’t big enough for the curved window so I had to add bits so it became a bit more complicated. I’m afraid other cats in the panel had to be sacrificed to get the same coloured fabric to extend the original!! It just seemed sensible to plough on with this picture and use completely different fabrics for the demo.


I chose 3 shades of solid blue…

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A Lesson in Hand-pleating

This is a great post from Sian of Mooney Studio Diary on pleating by Ciment Studios.


Yesterday I took a trip to Potters Bar, Enfield to visit Ciment Pleaters. I had used this company a long time ago to pleat some rubber for me and to my regret I have never had the time to visit the company and see how pleating is actually done.

I was welcomed by Terry and Geraldine Weinert and as they weren’t to busy took the time to show me exactly how to pleat fabric and the thousands of different patterns that exist, some dating back 60 years and all made laboriously by hand.

If it was a surprise that the patterns were handmade, it was an even bigger surprise that the whole process is hand crafted. They do have a few machines which make basic pleats but anything with the sightest bit of intricacy cannot be automated.

I asked Terry if it would be possible to pleat my Transylvanian sacking…

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