Using Embroidery to Embellish and Upcycle an Off-the-Rack Dress

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an embroidered jacket that was a wearable work in progress. The artist traced the pattern of the embroidery and then slowly worked on the jacket, which she also wore in her travels. Because the tracing was light and the pattern abstract, she could wear it even though it had not yet been completed.

This mod cream dress had 
some visible flaws..

I lightly traced flower blossoms.

That got me to thinking. I had bought a $7 cream-colored '60s-style dress with a mod silhouette. You may remember it because it was the template for a $7 black dress of the same style that needed resizing.

Well, while the cream-colored dress was the right size, it had a different issue. It was really cute, but had a few colored marks on it. I am not sure if the marks were imperfections in the fabric, or post-production stains, but they were noticeable enough that I was not able to wear them.

I have some very pretty pastel colored embroidery thread that I have been saving for a project, and the embellished jean jacket sparked an idea. I traced flowers in pencil so the tracing looked as though there were blossoms scattered across the dress.

I am on vacation this week, and this sort of light-hearted embroidery project is perfect for relaxing on the porch.  It won't take long, but when I finish I will have a unique dress whose imperfections are cleverly camouflaged.  Once again, hand-sewing comes to the rescue.

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Do you have a project that you upcycled and transformed with embroidery or some other embellishment technique? I would love to know.

Happy stitching!







Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Embellishment, Hand Embroidery

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.

5 thoughts on “Using Embroidery to Embellish and Upcycle an Off-the-Rack Dress

  1. My Mother did this for years, even when I was a child. Whenever a stain or small tear ‘appeared’ on a garment she would embroider or applique over it to prolong the life of a garment, for herself or for one of her children. I have continued the practice and also include adding lace, ribbon, braid, or beads. The added embellishments often make the garment even better.

  2. I couldn’t bear to throw away a couple of pairs of ancient jeans, they were so soft.
    I cut them apart, cut out an eight gore skirt and embroidered the belt and a couple of pockets I made, and it is a real treasure. I have more old jeans in the closet – maybe I need a jacket?

  3. I add allways embroidery when i have upwolfed with felt.
    It’s a 3d felting methode of a dutch artist that is felting.
    She had made me aware of allot of possibilties that will cost less with working with small scratch pieces.
    And to add embrodery it will be in t he end more interesting.
    I’m adding often embrodey on parts of my cloths or daily other fabric.
    it just will make all the differens.;-D
    When i was a child my mom was mending all my cloths, i called it windows she made. I like it that more people does this, and to let it show by using not comparing materials. so it looks like a beautiful part.