The cord and braid are poked
through the underlined muslin.
Embellishment is not a sewing technique I naturally gravitate toward. I like my garments sleek and clean-lined. But in the process of getting a couture certificate, I had to take a summer course in embellishment. It was a 6-week intensive and for twice a week at four-hour stretches in the dog days of summer, I was completely immersed in embellishment of every stripe and color.
Somewhere in that time, I began to fall in love with embellishment and began to understand its integral role in couture. There is no doubt that you can spend as much time on embellishment as on the garment itself.
By far one of the strangest techniques that I worked on was called passementerie. What a lovely mouthful of a word! Derived from the French word "passemente," it is the art of applying elaborate trimmings made from braid, cord, beads, etc.
I suppose that its most frequent usage is in bridal wear, but it's often seen on couture, red-carpet type gowns as well. At any rate, it's not an everyday kind of embellishment that you just pull out of the hat for any old project.
I created my sample with thick rat-tail cord and a braid so intricate that it almost looked like lace. After underlining the fashion fabric sample with muslin, I started the passementerie by poking the braid and cord through a hole in the fabric and then winding it into loops and curves. By using a thread in the same color as the braid and cord I was able to make it look like it had just landed fully formed on that fabric, like "Hey! Look at me!"
I never would have thought that with a little cord and braid and thread and needle that I could create something so stunning. I'm not saying that I rushed out and applied passementerie to every project I created. But I could have.
That's the thing about esoteric embellishment techniques. I sort of think of them in the same way as I think of my scuba diving certification. I am not an avid diver and haven't pulled on wetsuit in years, nor do I plan to. But it's a good skill to have in my toolbox. You just never know when it will come in handy.
For loads of beautiful embellishments to put in your toolbox, take a peek at the new Handsewn book in the Sew Daily Shop.
Do you have an esoteric embellishment technique in your tool kit? Do tell!