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Fabric enhancements using decorative components

Techniques for producing decorative effects of fabrics and garments

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Not too long ago, the vast majority of apparel decorators were specialists of embroiderers or screen-printers. Now more and more companies are adding additional decoration methods to increase their profitability? and more importantly, keep their customer at home. Garments are decorated based on the end usage by affixing sequins, rhinestones, embroidery etc. to enhance the appearance of the final products.

Major Types of Garment Decoration

  1. Appliqué

    This is a popular way of decorating fabrics. Shapes of one fabric care applied to the surface or background of another fabric using a fine zigzag stitch or as in the example shown, with a straight stitch, which overlaps the edge of each shape. The pattern pieces that make up the appliqué are usually backed with interfacing to give them strength.

  2. Embellishment

    Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
    This is the application of a variety of techniques onto one fabric. For example, a currently popular technique is called Shisha work, where tiny mirrors are embroidered onto fabrics. Others stitch; dye or print techniques may also be used to give an ornate fabric.
  3. Fabric Manipulation

    The properties of a fabric can be manipulated using heat or chemicals. A popular process called Shibori, from Japan explores the manipulation of fabrics in this way. The fabric can be tied in simple or elaborate patterns, the fabric is then subjected to high steam and colour is added. This process works well on synthetic fabrics as they have thermoplastic properties or memories, which allow the fabric to retain its shape. Once heated to a high temperature the shape of the fabric cannot be changed unless the fabric is subjected to high temperatures again.

  4. Quilting

    Quilted FabricThis is a method of applying texture and colour by stitching through layers of fabric. The surface texture of the fabric is achieved by sandwiching wadding or stuffing between layers of fabric. Interesting patterns and 3D surface textures can be achieved

  5. Pleating

    This method requires the folding of fabric on the vertical length and, usually, fixing the pleat at the end with stitching. A tuck is where the fold is held at both ends with stitching and is often horizontal. Pleats and tucks add decoration and reduce fullness. Skirts are commonly pleated. Some designers exploit the thermoplastic properties of synthetic fabrics and heat set pleats for a very creative effect.

  6. Gathers

    Gathers are small stitches pulled together to reduce fullness (length). Again these are common on the waistlines of skirts, but they are also popular on sleeves, yokes and hems to add volume (shape) to a garment. Elasticated thread (shirring elastic) can be used to gather parts of the fabric to improve fit and add texture and pattern. Smocking is a traditional method of gathering the fabric to reduce fullness; the gatherers are held with patterned embroidery stitches.

  7. Darts

    Darts is the method of reshaping a garment or product but they can also be decorative if stitched on the surface (rather than inside the item), giving it textured flaps.

  8. Heat Setting

    Heat, when applied to fabrics, can change the texture and shape but it is important to be aware of the fibre properties so that heat is used effectively. Heat and moisture and agitation applied to wool will felt it; heat applied to polyester or polyamide can soften it can when the fabric is cooled set in pleats and crinkle effects.

  9. Textured Effects

    Distressed effects such as brushing, shredding, fraying, sanding and stone washing are popular methods or creating decoration and aged effects on products.

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