Adding Va Va Voom To Your Machine Embroidery Projects

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Hand embellishment dos and don'ts

Nothing says lovin’ like embroidered gifts. What you choose as your project says something about how you see the receiver. What you choose to embroider on the gift says something about you. If you really want your design to pop, adding embellishment to your embroidery will create another dimension and will most certainly have the desired effect. Limited only by your imagination, you decide what story you want your finished project to tell through embroidery and embellishing.

Embellish Your Design and Make It Sparkle!

It is fine to use imagery or lettering for your machine embroidery designs but once you have gotten that part right, you will want to make the design stand out with your own style and special touches. Here is where embellishing comes in. Embellishing is the adding of beauty and interest to your design through ornamentation.

You can embellish by adding buttons, appliques, beads, pearls, sequins, feathers, tiny seashells, or dried flowers, among many others. It is a task that adds visual value to embroidery, making it stand out even more. 

Here’s a nice example by Fiberfantasies of how embellishing can result to artsy creations

Embellishment Techniques

You can use all sorts of items to embellish your embroidery. It is especially fun if the items that you use have a special meaning to you or for the person to whom you will give the gift. The cute cat pillow design below uses buttons, ribbons, and lace and can be an awesome gift for a cat-loving friend.

You can also use thread borders to surround your embroidery with color and design. You can use thread, floss, or ribbons in this case. And if you have embroidery software at your fingertips, visualizing and coming up with a customized style will be much easier.


You can also use machine embroidery in what’s known as free-motion embroidery to create beautiful embroidered flowers that would make excellent embellishing elements. If you want to take it a step further, you can use metallic thread like in this video tutorial by Christopher Nejman.

To help you get started on embellishing, we’ve put together a few dos and don’ts for you below so, read on!

Embroidery Embellishing Dos

Before you get busy with embellishing your embroidered creations, make sure to think things through first. It is important to plan ahead so that your final project perfectly reflects your vision. 

1. Take the time to plan and visualize how you want the embellishment to look and, even more critically, take the time to figure out how to do it. Putting this tip to heart can lead you to creating intricate designs that would be impossible without planning, like the one below from Fiberfantasies.

2. When embellishing with a heavy, decorative thread, use a basic couching embroidery stitch to hold the thread too thick to go through the embroidered fabric.

3. Use embroidery scissors. Embroidery scissors are sharper than craft scissors. And you need sharp scissors for cutting and trimming. Dull scissors can snag and otherwise ruin your material and certainly your embellishments.

4. Handle your embellishment materials with care since many of them are quite delicate, if not downright fragile. Rough handling can result in things like unsightly creases in the case of ribbons and cracking or bending in the case of feathers or shells.

5. Use good lighting so you can see your design and stitching with ease, without eyestrain. If you have impaired eyesight, we recommend giving an eye doctor a quick call for a pair of prescription glasses first.

6. Keep a Ziploc bag or another storage container handy so you can keep your embellishments neat and tidy and ready to use when you are ready to dig back into your project.

Embroidery Embellishing Don’ts

If you really want to make sure your embellishing efforts are done right, then don’t rush the process. You’re creating something special after all, which means you should have the patience to do things slowly but surely.

Forgetting a few things will ruin your embroidery embellishment fast. It’s easier than you think, especially if you’re rushing too much and being careless.

1. If you fail to use the right stabilizer for your fabric, the applique will look puckered and no amount of embellishment will make it right.

2. Don’t forget to properly measure your material. Failing to do so will result to your embroidery being off-center or your embellishment off-kilter in relation to the rest of the design.

3. Avoid overly complex shapes for embellishment as they may look muddied when completed. 

4. When attaching beads, don’t forget to stretch the beading thread several times first between your hands before using it. This prevents the thread from unwanted stretching once you’ve attached the beads.

5. Don’t use fonts that are too ornate; they may look blurred and unreadable when done. Choose a font that has ample space between letters. 

Our Best Tip: Enjoy! 

We’re not trying to scare you when we say embroidery and embellishing requires patience and a bit of work. But it does. Think of it as a labor of love, so it is important to simply enjoy what you do. The joy makes the difficulty and stress of embellishing melt away. Remember too, that embellishing adds value—a richness—to your project. After all, that’s why your effort deserves to be called a work of art.

Just take a look at the machine embroidery from Stevie Walker below embellished with metal shims, foil, rods, wire, and exotic thread and you will see how embellishment impacts the design.

Hatch Embroidery is an at-home, hobby software for embroidery machine and computer integration. With Hatch, you can create embroidery designs faster and easier, letting you conceptualize the final appearance of your project without difficulty. You can even incorporate the look and placements of planned embellishments within the design process to minimize the risk of errors during the machine embroidery stage. 

We are currently offering a 30-Day Free Trial of the full version of Hatch Embroidery to help you get started on pushing your creative boundaries even further. 


We are so confident that you will absolutely love Hatch and won’t want to give it back, that we even offer a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee!

Happy Embroidering!

Bernadett and the Hatch Team

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