How to Create an Embellishment Portfolio

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.

This handy embellishment portfolio has
served me well!

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!

Happy stitching!




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About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

4 thoughts on “How to Create an Embellishment Portfolio

  1. I did this for a sewing class. It has been a lifesaver with samples of various pocket
    techniques, zippers, etc. Could you publish some more photos of your portfolio?

  2. Years ago, when I was embroidering on an old-fashioned crazy quilt, I wanted to keep track of the various stitches and embellishments. I went thru embroidery books (this was before the internet) and found a good assortment. I used 3×5 index cards and wrote the name of each stitch and then sketched an illustration of how it was made.
    When I wanted to change stitches, I would shuffle thru “the deck” and find a new one.

    I’ve added to the stack since then, combining stitches and elaborating on them. It is fun to see the evolution of my work, and I am glad for this handy resource. I put a hole in one corner and they all slide onto a ring for easy storing.

  3. I have been taking a class at our Community College for several years, making wearable art jackets. In the process, we have learned MANY quilting techniques. I decided to make a ‘Jacket Book’ with pictures of my jackets, samples of whe I have learned, swatches of fabric and notes. Now that I have made 15 jackets I find this resource amazing in that I have learned soooo much, and realize that I love the piecing process but do not want to make a quilt so more jackets seem to be on the horizon