During the hot weeks of summer a few years ago, I took an intensive embellishment course as part of a couture certificate. I completely fell in love with beading, embroidery, feathers, applique, rosettes, and more. But because the course was so intensive, and because I find that more slips out of my mind than stays lately, I am so thankful that our professor made us create an embellishment portfolio. The portfolio figured prominently into our final grade and so we all took the makeup of it very seriously.
Most of the class members were professionals on their way to work in the industry or their own studio, and the portfolios that they developed were magnificent presentations of their work. Because I was seeking these skills more for the actual information than for plying my trade at beading, I kept my portfolio much simpler and more functional. But it has served me just as well.
I bought a large 3-inch binder and dozens of clear 3-ring plastic sleeves. With each technique that we learned, I put all my notes, as well as any samples that I developed, into the plastic sleeves. Under the clear plastic front of the notebook, I slipped a list of all the techniques that were contained in the portfolio, for easy reference. By the end of the class I had a couple of dozen samples in the notebook, with each technique detailed for easy reference.
The portfolio serves a dual purpose. First, it gives you a chance to perfect an embellishment technique without the pressure of having to get it right the first time on a project. Second, it's a visual and verbal record of how to accomplish a technique. I can't tell you how many times I have referred back to this portfolio to review again how to accomplish a specific embellishment. But most of all, the notebook was fun to put together and a joy to look at after. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to expand their embellishment vocabulary.
For lots of projects where you can practice your embellishment techniques to build your embellishment portfolio, try a subscription to Quilting Arts Magazine.
Do you have systems in place for recording the techniques that you learn in your sewing? Do tell!