Sew Guide » 42 fabric manipulation & other techniques to make fabric with texture & patterns

42 fabric manipulation & other techniques to make fabric with texture & patterns

fabric manipulation

I used to love crafts and painting when I was young. Then my attention turned to fabric and there was no looking back. For me nothing beats fabric and sewing in exploring creativity.

Sewing allows me to play with colour and do all the things  and more; maybe more  than what I could do when I was painting.What better way than sewing and embroidery and different easy to do fabric manipulation and other techniques to make the pretty textures on fabric – it is beautiful, economical and ticks all my creative boxes .

It is possible to add texture to fabric  in a million ways – ok not so much – but more than you can count – I am listing the basic techniques which you can expand and combine, mix and match – whatever you want to do in whichever way

How to make fabric with texture

  • 1 Applique

Applique is the method of sewing pieces of fabric onto other fabric bases in beautiful designs. You can stitch the applique pieces by hand as well as by sewing machine

  • 2 Patchwork

Patchwork is the method of sewing small pieces of fabric (patches) of different patterns and colours together to make a big fabric piece . This technique is also called piece work  ; You can make stunning garments and accessories with patchwork fabric.

how to make fabric with texture

  • 3 Embroidery

This is the technique of decorating fabric with beautiful stitches made with  embroidery thread or yarn. Hand embroidery techniques like Kantha embroidery, Sashiko Embroidery, Shadow embroidery, Chikankary embroidery all create unparalleled texture. If you are a beginner to embroidery checkout the post on how to embroider for more details

  • 4 Beading/ Beadwork

Beads add glitter, texture  and beauty to fabric. You can sew / glue beads to fabric . Checkout this post on the basic beading stitches you can use to sew the beads

different kinds of beads    how do do bead work

  • 5 Macrame

This is a technique of using knotting to make fabric with special macrame cords. You can use macrame to decorate your fabric or make the whole fabric with macrame.

  • 6 Fabric trims

You can sew the different types of fabric trims like ribbons , braids to the fabric to add texture to fabric. Checkout the different types of trims available .

fabric manipulation for texture

You can make your own fringe trims by following this tutorial here

make fringe trims

  • 7 Couching

This technique uses cords, threads and other materials which are then stitched on to the fabric surface. The thread is laid on the surface of the fabric in a pattern and it is sewn with small stitches by hand or by sewing machine. Checkout the post on 4 ways to do couching for more details

couching stitches

  • 8 Fabric painting

Fabric painting uses a specially formulated paint to make designs on fabric. You can use the fabric paint to add dimensional effect to the fabric as well.

fabric texture

  • 9 Fabric Patches

Fabric patches are pieces of fabric embellished with embroidery, sequins , beads, fabric paint etc which are attached to fabric surfaces with glue or sewing or heat activated iron on adhesives; These are great for mending holes on clothes as well as decorating them.Checkout the 10 ways of making fabric clothing patches and the 8 different ways to attach them on to clothes

diy clothing patches

  • 10 Printing on Fabric

Printing on fabric is a great way to add designs on your clothes. You can add any designs to the the fabric without any sewing involved using your inkjet printer at home

Checkout the post on Fabric Block printing – A DIY guide for tutorial to do block printing at home

Block printing on fabric

  • 11 Reverse Applique

This technique involves adding a layer of fabric underneath the base fabric and cutting away a portion of the base fabric in the shape of the design so that the fabric underneath is revealed. You can add multiple layers of fabric underneath for a beautiful effect.

embroider letter with reverse applique

  • 12 Monogramming

This involves embroidering the initials of a person’s name in a particular way and is a vrey popular technique of embellishing clothes and accessories to customise and personalise them. Checkout the post on embroidering letters and Monogramming rules for more details

  • 13 Felting

Felting is a process by which wool fibers are agitated ( by hand or by machine) to make fabric. Needle felting and wet felting are the two methods used to make the felted fabric. Felted fabric looks beautiful and can be used to make and decorate garments and accessories

  • 14 Fabric Flowers

You can make beautiful flowers using fabric pieces to decorate your garments. The fabric scraps you have at hand if you have been sewing for some time can be transformed into beautiful almost real looking fabric flowers very easily

  • 15 Fabric bows

Fabric bows the same  way as fabric flowers add to the beauty of clothes.Checkout 8 ways to make fabric bows

fabric texture

  • 16 Faggotting

This is a technique for adding ribbons and lace trims to the fabric with pretty embroidery stitches. Hemmed edges of fabric panels are together or to trims with criss crossed stitches.

  • 17 Lace Insertion

You can add lace between fabric panels ; checkout this post on different methods for lace insertion . Lace will add a transparency and texture to smooth fabric and will transform the look of ordinary fabric surface.

different types of laces lace inserts

  • 18 Piping

Piping is a technique of adding a special type of trim which is made by inserting a cord inside a bias fabric strip.The piping is added to the seam as a decorative trim.

  • 19 Tucks

Tucks are folds in fabric which are sewn in place. Pintucks are my favourite. As the name suggests these are tiny folds which are sewn in place close to the fold. They contain the fullness of fabric as well as add texture .Pintucks are made using  pintuck foot and double needle stitching

  • 20 Sewing Machine Embroidery

You can use embroidery sewing machines to make incredible designs on your fabric. Free motion embroidery involves making embroidery designs using your regular sewing machine with a darning foot and hooped fabric. This easy to do embroidery can make some amazing embroidery patterns and great  texture as well. Checkout the post on free motion embroidery for more details 

how to do embroidery with a regular sewing machine

  • 21 Rhinestones

Rhinestones are flatbacked beads which can be sewn or glued on to fabric to add sparkle to garments and accessories. Checkout the post on different ways to add rhinestones to fabric

fix rhinestones

  • 22 Sequins work

You can add a lot of sparkle and texture by adding sequins to fabric ( sew them or glue them) – Checkout the 10 different ways of attaching sequins to fabric 

fabric texture

  • 23 Gold work and zari work

Gold work uses metal threads in gold and silver colour to make embroidery patterns on fabric. This is a beautiful embroidery technique. Zardosi work uses a special type of gold string to work the embroidery designs. The needle and thread is inserted through the hole in the zardosi strings and the work is completed like this.

  • 24 Ruffles

Ruffles are pleated or gathered fabric or trims used to decorate garments and accessories. Checkout this post on gathering fabric for more details

how to gather

  • 25 Decorative Edge Finishes

Edge finishes need not be boring. You can finish the fabric edges with embroidery loops or buttonhole stitches ; For more edge finishing techniques checkout this post.

  • 26 Decorative Hem finishes

You can add beauty and texture to the hem of your garment in many ways. Checkout this post on the different types of hand hemming stitches for tutorials on this.

  • 27 Using roulette loops

Roulette loops are very thin fabric tubes made with fabric strips. You can easily make the roulette loops yourself and use it to decorate fabric

how to make fabric texture

  • 28 Bobbin work

This is a technique of doing embroidery with thick threads in the bobbin. The work will apprear on the underside of the fabric facing the needle. This is a wonderful way to add texture to fabric

  • 29 Ruching

Ruching is basically gathering fabric so that there are patterned fold in the fabric; It is also called puffing in heirloom embroidery. Ruching is usually done along the bodice of dresses and sleeves along the center line which is ruched creating attractive folds on either side of the center stitching line. You can ruch fabric by sewing the fabric with elastic . This is usually done with thin, sheer and transparent fabric as an overlay or a drapable cloth.

fabric texture

  • 30 Dyeing

Dyeing involves adding colour to the fabric by way of soaking it in a solution of dye. You can dye  a fabric fully or partially ; Batik, tie and dye, shibori dyeing are all variations of dyeing fabric to bring about beautiful patterns on fabric surface

  • 31 Stamping

This is a variation of diy block printing – you stamp on fabric surface with fabric laden stamps – you can diy stamps or buy from stores. Fabric paint ink pads are also available.

  • 32 Smocking

Smocking involves stitching together gathered folds of fabric with pretty embroidery stitches in a definite pattern. Smocking is a means of controlling fullness as well as adding beautiful embroidery to the fabric.Checkout the post on smocking

how to do smocking

  • 33 Shirring

This is technique of gathering fabric by using elastic thread in the bobbin. Shirring in parallel lines can produce beautiful texture to the fabric.

shirred waistband

  • 34 Fabric origami

Fabric origami is making origami ornaments by folding fabric pieces in definite folding patterns. You can use this to decorate fabric

  • 35 Ribbon embroidery

Ribbon embroidery is embroidery done with soft silk ribbons. You can make beautiful floral designs with ribbon embroidery

  • 36 YoYos

A fabric yoyo is a gathered circle of fabric piece with small running stitches. The resultant fabric yoyos which resemble flowers are great for decorating fabrics

  • 37 Decorative pleats

Pleats like box pleats, inverted pleats are all great ways of making the fabric look beautiful. Checkout the different types of pleats in the post here

how to make fabric texture

  • 38 Tassels

Tassels are loose threads gathered together at one end ; They are great for embellishing the hems of scarves and shawls ; Adding them to the end of drawstrings are common as well.Cehckout the different ways of making tassels on this post

make a tassel

  • 39 Mirror work

Attaching mirrors on fabric can make your fabric sparkle . Checkout the post on different ways to attach the mirror on to fabric.

mirror work stitches

  • 40 Shrinking fabric

Shrinking different layers of fabric differently will produce texture on the face of the fabric. This technique is better detailed here 

  • 41 Adding textured fabric as accent features

When you have a garment with a smooth surface you can add texture to it by adding fabric pieces with texture like denim, pleather, leather, canvas, embroidered fabric to make yokes, collars or top hem of pockets, sleeve cuffs  etc. 

  • 42 Distressed fabric

Weathering or distressing fabric is a technique of making the fabric look old by using various methods like using a pumice stone or wire brush to wear the thread or using paint to make it look used. Checkout the 15 ways to distress fabric

Fabric texture is an important element of fashion. It can even affect your mood – the way your fabric looks and feels is intricately involved with our emotional wellbeing as well – I donot say this , but the learned scientists says so. Who am I to argue?.

I can simply go on creating these beautiful textures with the fabric manipulation and other techniques outlined here – what do you do other than this for fabric texture? 

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