Embellishments can be an easy way to add some visual texture and fun to any sewing project you’re working on. From applique to yoyos, there’s so many embellishment ideas that can spice up a garment.
The cool thing about adding embellishments is that a lot of them are quick-sew or even no-sew wins. You can add them while you’re working on a project, or you can raid your closet to sprinkle some refashion magic on what you find.
I wracked my brain, and raided my own closet and came up with these 66 embellishment ideas you can add to any of your sewing projects.
Trim embellishment ideas
- Velvet ribbon: Velvet ribbon is so darn pretty. It looks great on any kind of sweater. You can also use it on holiday dresses as a waist trim or along seams.
- Lace trim: There’s 937,629,494 lace trims out there, and I’ve personally wasted a lot of hours of my life trying to find nice ones. Use them on hems, as insertion lace, cuffs. You can stitch them to a collar to add some dimension.
- Pompom trim: fun on a roll! Add pompoms to hem edges or insert it into a seam.
- Bias tape: We forget about bias tape being a decorative embellishment, but it’s just that, especially if you make it yourself. Use it to bind edges or press it flat and stitch along the sides and use it like a ribbon anywhere on a garment.
- Fringe: Adding fringe is one of my favorite embellishment ideas. Make your own fringe (think the classic Chanel jacket) or use premade fringe trims.
- Selvage: some selvages are too pretty to not use! If you’ve cut out fabric that has decorative selvages, use them! Some selvages can be used as hems like with this sequin fabric, or you can do some creative cutting to show off the selvages. I shaped this collar just to feature the selvages.
- Fold-over elastic: There’s some pretty awesome printed fold-over elastics out there. Use them to finish off knit edges. If you’ve got a wrap dress or top, fold-over elastic can add a decorative touch and also keep that wrap from gaping!
- Grograin ribbon: a classic trim! Make cool stripes on your sewing projects with grosgrain. You can weave them together or stitch lengths in contrast colors next to each other for a fun hem or even a handbag. One of these days I’ll get around to trimming blazer lapels with grosgrain!
- Satin ribbon: Two words– tuxedo stripe. Satin ribbon is like the classier version of grosgrain. Stitch it to waistbands, along pant outseams, or make flower embellishments from it.
- Piping: my piping foot is literally my favorite sewing machine foot, and I don’t get to use it nearly enough. Insert piping into about any seam for a fun and easy contrast that will make your garment sing.
- Pleated trim: Use pleated trim just like piping. It’s a great edging trim.
- Ruffles: ruffles are another way to add some visual texture and can be used in place of hems. Smaller narrow ruffles can be used like edge trims.
- Leather trim: from leather fringe trim to leather ribbons, adding leather trim is another easy embellishment idea to add some edge to a garment.
- Suede trim: like leather but more touchable. I think it adds a nice dressy finish like on this refashioned sweater shrug.
- Beaded trim: there’s a lot of variety in beaded trims, so experiment. You can sew them along necklines or hems for a nice embellished look.
- Tassels: Like pompoms but more swishy. I’ve seen a lot of kimonos with beautiful tassels sewn along the hems!
- Eyelash trim: Similar to tassel trims, but eyelash is very textural. Like the Mahna Mahna muppets attacked you, but in a good way. In can be beautiful sewn along necklines and cuffs.
- Crochet: You can buy yardage of crochet trims to add some dimension to a hem or make you’re own if you’re gifted with yarn abilities.
- Mirror ribbon: I have a couple yards of this stuff, and I love all the colors and how the light catches the mirrors. It would look great along the neck and opening of a classic tunic.
20. Jacquard ribbon: another choice in ribbons. Jacquard ribbons are those fancy woven ribbons will all kinds of cool designs on them. Use them for belts or sashes or ties.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.