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

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 🙂 .

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 a neck embellishment? I’ll let you guess.


I purchased mine from Amazon (this is not an affiliated mention). You can beg or borrow the book, too; or put it on your next birthday list.

Let’s explore some content without trampling over Ellen’s copyrights:

  • There is no book that I have seen, which covers all cloth embellishment possibilities, and this book doesn’t either.  However, it is thorough, and there’s a lot of content – so much that some text is printed in small type; remember that fact if you have aging eyes, like mine. Hey, do not let the small type deter you from checking out this book.


  • There’s abundant exploration about each technique, and some of it is full on science. In the Feather Embellishment chapter, the author begins exploring feather embellishment by going right to the source — the birds.  I loved nerding out on that chapter.
  • Flounces:  if you’d like to know why each undulation of the flounce (as opposed to a ruffle) shapes itself the way it does, it’s explained in the ruffles chapter. It has to do with the grainline of each part of the flounce.
  • Cartridge pleats: this section caught my eye because it shows you how to attach the completed cartridge pleats to another fabric section, once you’ve made the pleats section.
  • Shisha embroidery is what I grew up wearing and using for home decor, but never learned to do. It is folk embroidery from Pakistan and adjoining regions of India.  Why learn it when it was a huge cottage industry there and was quite ubiquitious? Now, NOW I’m eager to learn some of my own ethnic-heirloom embroidery from Ellen Miller’s book.  This image below of shisha embroidery, is not in the book.  It’s a textile that was a gift to me from a brother-in-law in the 1970s who passed away at a very young age, almost immediately after gifting me with this.
Shisha Embroidery. Can you see the little mirrors in the center of each medallion?
  • Last but not least, I love the photographs before each chapter begins, so you can see what a possible finished garment would look like after you’re done – the photos are similar in look to a museum catalog. One of my favorites is the image of a completed striped top with applied lace trim; because I’m seeing myself in it.
stripes and lace
Love this use of lace trim!  Utterly chic instead of sticky sweet

There’s much, much more.  Of course, one book cannot cover every single embellishment technique in the universe!  There’s a lot to learn from this one, though. Maybe there’s a sequel being planned by the author??



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

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