Workshops » Fabric-ating Embellishments

Fabric-ating Embellishments

Explore the world of creating embellishments with fabric-needle & thread and a whole array of other fun materials

With: Rose Hughes
Skill Level: Beginner-Intermediate

Explore the world of creating embellishments with fabric-needle & thread and a whole array of other fun materials

Fabric-ating Embellishments calendar image

4 Lessons
Type: On-demand
Price: $48.00
Start Anytime!


Tags: Fast-Piece Applique, Art-Quilts, Beading, Embellishments


Finding a wonderful bead or other shiny object to add to your quilt can be fun BUT, utilizing them along with fabric can take them from ordinary to WOW! Join Rose in this fun, playful workshop where we will explore the world of creating embellishments with fabric-needle and thread… and of course a whole array of other fun materials. In this workshop, Rose will be sharing eight different ways that fabric may be utilized not as a background, or as a shape amongst others in a block, but in ways to become supporting characters, featured star or comic relief. And, since featured stars need to shine she will also be teaching you additional ways to embellish the embellishments. Join Rose in this fun 4-lesson workshop and fill your own tool bag with amazing possibilities.

This fun-filled class includes 8 small projects for you to try the various techniques - make them all or only those you choose. Extra class time is allowed so you can complete all the projects.

Additional Bonus: Rose is also including her tutorial on these great holiday cards as a FREE bonus when you sign up for the class.

Supplies Required for Workshop

Drawing, Pattern-Making and Fusible Supplies

Tracing Paper: Tracing paper is translucent and great to use for creating patterns and in design work. Because it’s easy to see though and allows you to trace images makes it an invaluable commodity in any studio. It comes in a variety of sizes, in pads and on rolls. A roll of 18” or wider tracing paper can cover a multitude of needs, or a 18” x 24” pad will cover the workshop needs. My favorite source for this is Dick Blick. In UK try on-line with Class Art.

Freezer Paper: Freezer paper is essential to many of the embellishment processes in this workshop to create the patterns and then to hold the pieces of the pattern in place with a very high level of accuracy as they are quickly and easily sewn by machine. You can find freezer paper in some grocery stores, or quilt stores. The paper is a fairly heavy, white craft like paper that is coated with plastic on one side and has a smooth, easy to write on paper surface on the other side. I recommend an 18”-wide roll for the projects here, but freezer paper is now available in 15”-, 18”-, and 24”-wide rolls and sheets from POS Paper and by delivery internationally as well.

Fusible Web: Fusible web is a manmade fiber that melts when heated. When placed between two pieces of fabric, the melting action of the web causes it to fuse the fabrics together. Fusible web is available in rolls in various width, by the yard in quilt and fabric stores and in pre-packaged pieces in fabric and hobby stores. For the projects in this workshop I suggest using a light-weight fusible web. I recommend the 5 1/4yard, 17” wide Thermoweb – Heat nBond Lite

Iron-on Interfacing: Whether you are using silk, another fabric that frays easily, or need to give a project a bit more shape and support, interfacing is your friend. It has been around for garment construction for a long time and generally it is an extra textile layer used to stabilize a thin or slippery fabric or give extra stiffness in collars, cuffs, necklines, and pockets. There are two basic types, sew-in or fusible, and for our projects, fusible is the best choice. You will want a super lightweight iron-on interfacing that will allow easy stitching by hand after it is used to stabilize the silk in our projects.

The Thermoweb Heat nBond Featherweight is my favorite for using on silk. I purchase mine by the bolt, but it is also available by the yard. 1 yard is needed to complete the projects in this workshop.

Drawing Circle Templates or Compass: Plastic technical drawing templates contain pre-cut, pre-sized holes in a variety of sizes to accurately draw a shape or sign. Circle templates are used for drawing circles during the pattern-making process for our projects, though a compass may also be used for drawing accurately sized circles.

Sewing Tools

Sewing machine: When working on these projects you should have a sewing machine that you are familiar with and that has zigzag and machine quilting capability. You will want to make sure that it is in good working order and that you know how to change the length and width of the stitches you will be working with.

Note: Besides a standard or 1/4” presser foot for straight stitching you will need to have a foot that accommodates zigzag stitching. Most machines come with a foot that has an open area for the needle in order to handle the zigzag stitching, but since we will be using this foot to couch over yarns there are better choices available for most machines. Each sewing machine manufacturer may have a specialty foot that will help you with the couching you will be doing.

Machine piecing thread: The thread selected should be a mid-weight cotton thread in a neutral color (i.e. gray, beige). Note: The best color would be visible from the top but not high contrasting. This thread will be used for the top and bobbin while sewing the quilt top.

Quilting thread: Select metallic, or other decorative threads that coordinate with chosen yarns for the quilt top for couching and quilting.

Bobbin thread: When selecting bobbin thread for couching and quilting, remember that this thread will show on the back of the quilt. In most cases my choice is clear monofilament.

Beading thread: When preparing to hand bead, you will want to find exceptionally strong but pliable thread in colors that match the fabric colors where the beads will be sewn. My favorite beading thread is Bottom Line 60-weight lint-free polyester from Superior Threads.

Embroidery thread: Readily available DMC embroidery threads is fine to use. It comes in a full line of colors that are colorfast and also a nice selection of variegated threads that can add additional interest. Click here for UK sources. There are other wonderful brands of thread, so whether you have yarn and needlepoint stores close by or internet shopping capability keep your eyes open to other possibilities.

Basic Sewing Kit

Here is a complete list of everything you will need to make your own Shape Up quilts.

  • For Drawing, Marking, etc.
    • Soft Lead Pencil
    • Pencil Eraser
    • Fine line, (not ultra-fine) permanent black marker
    • Chalk powder or chalk cartridge type marker (optional)
  • For Cutting
    • Paper Scissors
    • Fabric Scissors
    • 4” Embroidery Scissors
    • Rotary cutter & cutting mat
    • 24” Long ruler
  • For Sewing
    • Sharp 80-90 sewing machine needles
    • Topstitch or Metallic 80-90 machine needles
  • For Pressing
    • Iron
    • Ironing board
    • Pressing sheet for protecting fabric and ironing board cover when using fusible materials
  • For Sandwiching the quilt
    • Batting – Lightweight cotton or cotton blend
    • Fabric Spray & Fix, or a safety pins
  • For Dimensional Stitching and Beading
    • Size 2 Crewel hand sewing needles
    • Size 10 -11 Sharps hand sewing needles
  • For Turning Fabric Right-Side In
    • A hemostat, knitting needle, small crochet hook or a embroidery needle (something small enough to get into some tight corners, slightly blunt at its point), will work for this task.
  • Other 
    • Needle-threader
    • Thimble
    • Small Pin Cushion
    • Beading Cup/Tray

Selecting Fabrics

There is an incredible selection of fabrics available to us today. Cottons, silks, netting, wools, rayons, corduroys, velveteen, velvet, felts and the list will continue to grow as you go exploring. There are a couple of things to keep in mind as you explore the many fabric opportunities.

The first thing I ensure when selecting a fabric is that it can be ironed. This is important, for there are so many times during the quiltmaking process that you will want to iron any fabric you have chosen.

Then you need to determine if the fabric will be washed, or if the fabric art you are creating will need to be washed at any point. If in either case you want fabrics that can stand up to washing then this must be considered when you pick the fabrics for your projects.

Fraying is also another area to consider when selecting fabrics. Silks fray, and the thinner silks or China silks can be very slippery to sew. The best way to manage silks in your work is to fuse them with a lightweight interfacing. The lightweight to featherweight varieties of fusible interfacing will give you silk that remains soft and pliable, and when they are layered for quilting they are easier to hand quilt or embellish. With an iron-on interfacing in place the silk may be cut, sewn and ironed as you would a cotton fabric.

Sheer fabrics whether silk, nylon, or rayon, are also fun to use. If you select one that seems to fray, but you do not want to interface then a fray-controlling liquid solution may be put on exposed edges once the fabric is sewn.

Batting – A lightweight cotton or cotton mix batting work best for most of these projects.


Beads: Beads are a favorite go-to embellishment, for they are made out of almost every material -glass, wood, stone, and ceramics to name a few. They can be of natural or man-made materials, and come in every shape, every size and every color of the rainbow.

When selecting beads it is important to consider how they will lay on your quilt project. In most instances, you would not want to use large bulky beads that when attached will create a big bump in your work and keep it from laying flat. Do not worry though, there are loads of beads out there that will lay flat on your quilt and you can find them by canvassing local or on-line bead stores.

Some of my favorites are small square beads, bugle beads and seed beads to add sparkle, dimension and direction to a piece. Look for beads known as ‘coin’ beads for lots of additional options. Just remember that you can mix sizes, colors and even the types of beads throughout one area of your quilt to create the desired effect.

It is important to watch for how the bead is strung. When you find some beads that you think may work well make sure that they can be threaded in the direction you wish to use them. Many shaped beads may be strung or sewn from different directions, and some of these directions may not work well on your quilt.

Buttons: These are small discs, typically round, usually attached to clothing in order to secure the clothing around our body, or for ornamentation. Functional buttons work by slipping the button through a fabric or thread loop, or by sliding the button through a reinforced slit called a buttonhole. Buttons are made from almost any material. Natural materials include antler, bone, horn, ivory, shell, vegetable ivory and wood. Some man-made materials are celluloid, glass, metal, bakelite and plastic, but there are basically just two types of commonly used buttons:

Shank Buttons: These buttons have a small ring or a bar with a hole called the shank that protrudes from the back of the button. Thread is sewn through this shank to attach the button. There are also fabric-covered versions of the shank button that have a separate back piece that secures the fabric over the shank.

Flat, Sew-Through Buttons: Flat or sew-through buttons have two or four holes punched through the button. Thread is sewn through the holes when attaching the button.

We literally have a world of buttons to choose from, and as quilters we can think outside the button box by using and thinking about attaching buttons not just as closures, but as embellishment.

Beyond Buttons & Beads: We have learned that to embellish something means to enhance appearances by adding something decorative but unessential. Embellish is a synonym for adorn, but what I love best about these words is that they are verbs. Verbs imply action and there is nothing better than jumping in, taking action to make something beautiful, to decorate it, or garnish it. It is the added ‘extra’ that makes it special, complete, ‘extra’ ordinary. Beads and buttons provide amazing embellishment opportunities, and right now we live at a wonderful time. We now can easily go one step further by finding non-traditional materials that may already have holes that can be used for stitching that embellishment into place, or by putting holes in uncountable materials, giving lots of options for finding a special one of a kind embellishment piece to our quilts.

We have at our fingertips, the local store, or the internet, access to products and information that helps us find new and exciting embellishments.