The Book

The link to order the book from Amazon:
Get it now on Amazon!

The link to order the book from Bookshop:

Order from Bookshop!


Creating Couture Embellishments is a 400-page, abundantly illustrated, how-to book with 3 sections–basic tools and techniques, fabric manipulation, and embellishments and trimmings– 23 chapters covering 174 techniques including quilting, ruffles and flounces, passementerie, and beads and sequins

A Bit of Background

I was inspired to write Creating Couture Embellishments while teaching a Couture Details course at the School of Fashion Design in Boston, Massachusetts.

SFD window

Throughout the class I was frustrated by the lack of a comprehensive text that my students and I could use as a resource. Each technique required me to copy magazine articles or chapters from out-of-print books. Some articles included only hand-drawn examples while others had no drawings at all, which in this era of YouTube/Instagram how-to graphics, can make understanding a concept much more difficult. Additionally, each article author wrote in their own voice, using different terminology and assuming varying amounts of knowledge.

Couture Detail notebook, filled with handouts from Ellen’s class

I decided to create this missing resource by amassing all of the information into one volume, written in one voice and including numerous illustrations and consistent terminology.

Writing the Book

When I signed the contract with Laurence King Publishing of London in 2009, we thought it would take me two years to “write” the book.

Seven years later the book was finally published in August, 2017. Why, you might ask, did it take that long? By way of example, the first chapter to be written was Flowers; I made the samples and took the photographs for that chapter three times.

Beginning a peony on a gridded surface

Discarded photo: The grid behind the flower was confusing.

Beginning a peony but it’s too flat

Discarded photo: The flower was too flat.

The chosen photo for Step 8 of Peonies

Chosen version of photo for Step 8 in Peonies: The flower is perky and both threads are visible; the green gathering thread is to the left and the yellow sewing thread is to the right.

Multiply this process by 174 techniques (plus a few that didn’t make it into the book), and the years flew by.  A sewist can now pick and choose which techniques to use from the wide selection of choices found in this one book. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results; every time I look at Creating Couture Embellishments I am amazed by the beauty and breadth of the book. To sum up and date myself: it’s wicked cool!