||What fun it is to live in an age of embellishment. Everywhere I look at clothing -- in department stores, boutiques, catalogs, fashion magazines, and on the street -- I see beads and sequins, tassels and fringes, bright metallic studs, ribbons and braids, and embroidery both elegant and witty. Casual garb, party clothes, office attire -- all manner of garments seem to be trimmed out in styles reminiscent of many historic periods, with diverse ethnic inspirations. Some of these clothes are beyond the reach of my pocketbook; some are one-of-a-kind and not available to me. And I can't generally find a source for those I admire in films or on television.
Yet when I turn my eyes in other directions, I see shelves stocked with plain denim jeans and jackets, T-shirts of all cuts and colors, and unadorned sweats. And there is rack upon rack of simple black dresses and basic one-color skirts and trousers, all perfectly serviceable and ubiquitously dull. But what an opportunity this set of clothing presents: the perfect canvas for my creativity. I can embellish these garments myself, have fun, create great-looking clothes, and know I've found an antidote to high-fashion price tags and unknown sources. And you can do the same.
Imagination is the key
'I don't know how to sew,' you may say. That really doesn't matter. Many embellishments are simple additions of ready-made trim. When you want to dress up a plain garment, what you really need is inspiration and imagination--an idea for the way to enhance that plain T or too-basic sheath. In this book, I'll share lots of ideas with you, and you'll find others in the same places I do: the street, the shops, and the media.
You may never have sewn more than a button, but once you browse the pages of this book, you'll realize there are all manner of embellishments you can create with very simple sewing techniques; you'll even see that there are trims you can add without ever threading a needle. Of course, I do sew, and I'm sure some of you do as well, so there are also ideas here that require a sewing machine or are a bit more challenging. Additionally, if you do sew clothing, these embellishing techniques can enhance your from-scratch garments as well as the ready-to-wear clothes you purchase.
I knew when I created this book that every reader would have different garments to decorate. I wanted to be sure each of you would be able to do whatever strikes your fancy and not be limited to copying exactly some trimming that I created. So this is a book of embellishing techniques, not a book of projects. You'll see many photos of garments that I embellished, with captions explaining how I achieved that look; I hope you'll find these examples inspirational as well as informative. There are lots of step-by-step directions, many with photographs, that explain, for instance, how to sew on beads and sequins or different ways to add lace to a garment. There are no patterns for arranging the beads, sequins, or lace but myriad suggestions for how you can arrange them. You can use the directions and suggestions to sew beads and sequins to any garment you like or to add lace to anything from a robe to a scarf.
In addition to the dozens of embellishment techniques with their step-by-step directions, you'll find sidebars that offer general information on embellishment materials. Some of these sidebars will help you understand which materials to use or purchase for specific types of embellishment; others give in-depth information on a method of work that can be applied to a variety of decorative techniques. The more I worked on this book, the more inspirational ideas I realized I had to share with you. I have so many ideas for ways to use the various materials and techniques, there was no way I could possibly make samples of them all. Instead, you'll find these additional inspirations described in the Design Idea boxes that accompany many of the embellishment directions. Also, I developed several tricks for making the embellishment process faster, easier, and more fun; you'll find my tips for doing this sprinkled throughout the book.
Each of the five chapters is devoted to a different type of embellishment material. Chapter 1 explains how to work with beads, sequins, and buttons. Chapter 2 presents the wonderful world of purchased trims: ribbons, braids, ready-made fringe, and lace. Chapter 3 discusses fabric embellishments--using scraps, yardage, and vintage linens to make appliqus, borders, and unusual collages. Chapter 4 covers hardware: zippers, studs, nail heads, and the like; there are lots of no-sew techniques here. And Chapter 5 is devoted to embellishments made with threads of all weights.
So take out your plain clothes, make a trip to the trimmings store, and keep your mind open to the wonderful embellishment possibilities you see in the shops, on the street, and in this book. Then get started.