Need to express it? Embellish it! (+ giveaway)

Posted by on April 26, 2012, in quilting & sewing,

Ah, the joy, the freedom, the fun of embellishing fabric—have you ever tried it on your quilts? It’s such an enjoyable way of expressing yourself. You can start small or dream big, adorn a little or a lot, and try any style, from fancy to funny. Plus, you can use just about anything you can glue or sew to fabric. The choices are completely up to you.

Oh—what’s that? Feeling a little timid about all that freedom? I hear you! The pathway to creative freedom always begins with the same question: “Where do I begin?” As with any journey, you need a little know-how (and a few supplies) before you begin. And we’ve got just the book for your creativity backpack.

Cheryl Lynch’s new book, Sew Embellished!, offers ideas for quick (we’re talking make-in-a-weekend quick) personalized projects and gifts that are both beautiful and meaningful. With themes celebrating family, love, and life, it’s the perfect go-to book when you want to create a one-of-a-kind gift for someone special—which of course, includes yourself.

Once you have Cheryl’s techniques under your sewing belt, you can let your imagination—and your fabric, embellishments, and threads—run wild. Let’s take a look at excerpts from the book to see just a few of the textile embellishments that Cheryl covers.


Many quilters have a stash of fabric. I also have a stash of buttons. They tend to accumulate, whether they’re extra buttons that come with a new sweater, a button box inherited from a relative, or stray buttons found in the washing machine. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t keep and cherish my mother’s button tin. I didn’t know how much I would come to love buttons at the time of her death, and I don’t even know what happened to them. But I’m definitely making up for that loss with my own collection. Sort your buttons by color so the right button is easy to find when you need it.

I use buttons whether they have two holes or four. You can attach them by hand or machine, with the knot on the top or at the bottom. Any type of thread can be used. If the buttons are attached individually, make a double knot and use a drop of seam sealant, such as Fray Check, on the knot to keep the button from coming loose.


If it has a hole, you can put it on your quilt! There are no rules for adding embellishments to your project as long as the quilt isn’t meant to be used as a bed quilt or washed. If an object has a hole, it can be attached to fabric, as long as it’s not too big or too heavy for the fabric to bear. Even if it doesn’t have a hole, sometimes you can make a hole or figure out another way to attach the item.

Beads, pins, coins, keys, sequins—even hardware-store washers!—are up for grabs.


Trims are suitable not just for the top and bottom edges of a project. Trims such as ribbon, lace, and rickrack can be used in many areas on the surface of the quilt. They can be used alone or embellished with sequins, beads, and French knots. Trims come in so many colors, styles, widths, and materials that you’re sure to find one—new or vintage—to suit your project.


Cheryl also delves into embellishing with embroidery, polymer clay, threads, photos, words, and fabrics. She even shows you how to dress up the edges of your pieces. See projects from the book in the slideshow at the bottom of this post; note how Cheryl has beautified the edges of her work. Gorgeous!

I can’t end this post without showing you my favorite part of Cheryl’s book. She made five different versions of the same project, incorporating different techniques into each. Look at the variety of outcomes!

I’m inspired to start a little project of my own this weekend—how ’bout you?

Visit Cheryl’s website and blog.

So, what kind of embellishments do you have stashed away for whenever inspiration strikes? Share your story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Sew Embellished! eBook. We’ll choose a winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. (You can also get Cheryl’s book here, and when you do, you also get to download the eBook for free right away.) Good luck!

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing to win the Sew Embellished! eBook. The randomly chosen winner is Sandy, who said:

“I save old earrings and jewelry from my mom. She also has given me my grandmother’s button collection. Tiny toys and keyrings from my sons when they were little. When my husband and I travel I find things like pieces of rusted metal, maps, napkins from restaurants. Leaves, pine cones and tiny rocks. Anything that will fit in my husband’s pockets at the time.”

Sandy, we’ll email you a special coupon code for your free eBook. Congratulations!


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