Start your sewing adventure with us.    Join Seamwork

Articles on this site were all published prior to 2017 and this site is no longer updated. Please visit our Magazine, Patterns, and Classroom for the most up-to-date content and products.

Detail Inspiration: Embroidered Accents

While you may think that embroidery is relegated to children’s clothes and peasant-style tops, there are a host of sophisticated looks you can achieve through the use of hand (and machine) embroidery, or perhaps a length of cloth sporting an embroidered motif. Embroidery adds an additional layer of detail to your handmade garments, and can lend itself well to accenting more simple silhouettes.

This beautiful 1960s pink shell has a very restrained embroidered trim (worked in a heavier embroidery wool). It contrasts with the garment fabric, but the scale and design don’t create an overly fussy look. I love that it’s accented on the shaped hem—an unexpected spot to embroider!

Circle skirts were a popular garment to add some embellishment to in the 1950s, and this particular piece sports a colorful, abstract motif scattered across the skirt. Using all-over designs like this requires some forethought and is best suited to a simple garment (the Sencha blouse would be perfect). By hand or using an embroidered fabric, it makes a statement!

Finally, how a small touch of embroidery can add a bit of elegance to a dress—and draw the eyes to the shaped shoulder yokes. This is Lauren’s version of the Ceylon dress, and she added a touch of contrasting hand embroidery to the shoulders. It’s easy to do something on such a small piece, and beads or sequins could be added for a bit of sparkle!

Looking to add a bit of embroidery to your next creation? There are a host of companies offering updated, trendy embroidery transfers, and vintage ones are still easily found. My favorite spot for free, vintage designs is Hoop Love on Flickr.

Images: Coral Shell, Circle Skirt, Embroidered Ceylon.

Casey Cartwright



June 6, 2012 #

For me each peice of embroidery is an artwork…and I enjoy doing it. Only garment I’ve embroidered is a pocket so far.

Maddie Flanigan

June 6, 2012 #

embroidery is always a classic look. Very Grace Kelly. You can never go wrong with embroidery.


June 6, 2012 #

What beautiful examples! Even really simple embroidered decoration can totally transform a garment. My mother did some embroidery for me on a shirt I made recently:


June 6, 2012 #

So pretty! The ceylon took my breath away. I’ve recently found that hand-stitching isn’t as much of a main as I once thought, so perhaps it’s time I gave embroidery a go! Thanks for the inspiration!


June 7, 2012 #

I know I have a hard time with the idea of sewing solid-colored fabrics (I know, silly but true), so pepping something up with a bit of embroidery is a great idea. I’ve actually been thinking for awhile now about sewing up a peasant blouse and doing some embroidery on it. I think I need to learn a little more about stabilizing embroidery!


June 15, 2012 #

Lauren’s Ceylon is so beautiful! Oh I’m so inspired.