Embroidery is such a versatile craft that can have so many lives outside of the hoop. The art of creating patterns and text with just needle and thread can be transferred onto all manner of other mediums. So, I thought I’d put a post together with a few ideas that I hope will inspire you and give you the confidence to use your amazing sewing skills in a whole new way. I’ll be focussing on accessories of many different types, from fashion, to home decoration, to items that come in handy in everyday life. I hope you find something you love among all the gorgeous examples!
As we all try to reduce our use of plastic bags, fabric totes have pretty much become a part of our everyday lives. Who doesn’t have a handful stashed away in a cupboard that they’ve acquired over time? But just because they’re basic practical items, doesn’t mean they can’t also be beautiful! If you’re walking around with this bag hanging from your shoulder most days, you may as well make it look great and suit your style. Here at Paraffle all of our beginner designs are available as tote bag kits, but you could also just get creative with bags that you already have. It could be anything from a big design that covers an entire side, to small details or even a bit of visible mending to increase its lifespan a little.
I guess clothing doesn’t really count as an accessory, but I wanted to include it anyway as it’s still a great alternative way to use your embroidery skills. I also feel like it serves as a good reminder to make mindfully. As embroiderers and crafters, we all love to express ourselves creatively. But this expression doesn’t always have to come in the form of making something entirely new. Upcycling clothing gives us the chance to channel our creative energies into giving fresh life to something old and reduce textile waste that could end up in landfill. It may even lead you to think about how much clothing you buy in general or to find a whole new respect for the work that went into your clothes in the first place. Reflection like this is never a bad thing in my opinion. And if you can make something beautiful in the process, even better! You could take a jacket and cover the whole back or simply add a detail to a collar, for example. It also works for t-shirts, jeans, dresses… literally any item really that you’d like to revive! It also turns your item into a one-of-a-kind item that’s totally unique to you, which is always pretty satisfying I feel.
Talking about clothing upcycling made me immediately think of another fashion focused use for your embroidery talents - detachable collars. I feel like these accessories have been having a bit of a moment recently, both in ready-to-wear fashion and within the home sewist community. They can be such a fun little addition to an outfit if your style is that way inclined and open up so many possibilities for customisation using embroidery. The particular beauty of accessories like this is that they can be paired with so many different outfits, giving you more opportunities so show off your skills!
Now for something completely different but, in my mind, still an accessory of sorts. More of a general life accessory you might say! Embroidering a bookmark is such a quick little project and a great way to use up any tiny scraps of fabric you may have left over from other projects. If you fancy trying out a slightly different medium, you can also create really lovely ones by embroidering onto card. This particular technique isn’t something that I’ve touched on yet on the blog but is definitely a topic that I’d like to talk about more soon as you can make some really amazing things using thread and card.
It’s certainly a strange sign of the times that I’m considering a protective face mask to be an accessory. But I personally think that, if we’re going to be wearing them for a while longer still, we might as well make them look good! Whether you’ve made your own mask or bought a fabric one made by someone else, an easy way to add a bit of personality and make them feel a little cuter is to embroider onto them. I’ve seen some that cover the entire surface with beautiful dense flowers, and others like this gorgeous, more minimal design above. Just make sure you add an extra (non-stitched) layer to your mask, to compensate for the extra embroidery holes!
Be it a hat, headband or head scarf, you can customise all kinds of hair accessories with a touch of embroidery. You could add a simple initial, a flower shape, a word… whatever you feel like really! If you didn’t want to embroider straight onto a hat because it’s a bit of a tricky shape to get a good stitching hold on or the material is too thick, you could also make a patch. That way you can either iron it on or attach a safety pin and turn it into a badge. You could also use this patch approach to create unique hair clips - just create your patch then glue it onto a plain clip. Colourful, oversized styles are popular these days so this could be a really fun way to tune into the trend.
Cushions are such great decorative accessories and a really easy way to add a personalised, DIY-touch to your home. You could create your own design on a plain cushion or use a cushion embroidery kit if you’re not sure where to start. Another option would be to find a cushion with a pattern on it already – flowers or geometric shapes, for example – and stitch over the shapes. It’s a fun, simple way to add texture and create something extra special.
As you can see from the small list above, you can pretty much embroider on anything! All it takes is a bit of imagination and extra creativity and you can make all kinds of unique embroidered accessories. If you’re looking for pattern ideas, you can find all of my patterns in PDF form. That means you get just the pattern and instructions, but none of the equipment that comes with the kits. It’s the perfect option for anyone who’s already got a supply of materials but prefers to follow a pattern for the actual stitching. With the PDFs, all you need to do is download them, transfer the design onto your fabric and get stitching onto whatever accessory you want! The cool thing about PDFs is that you can also scale down the pattern, which is ideal for sewing onto smaller surfaces like the masks or collars, for example. As always, I’d love to hear what you think, so do let me know in the comments below about your own ideas for embroidered accessories!