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 color and do all the things I love 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 the 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
Table of Contents
- Table of Contents
- 1. Applique
- 2. Patchwork
- 3. Embroidery
- 4. Beading/ Beadwork
- 5. Macrame
- 6. Fabric trims
- 7. Couching
- 8. Fabric painting
- 9. Fabric Patches
- 10. Printing on Fabric
- 11. Reverse Applique
- 12. Monogramming
- 13. Felting
- 14. Fabric Flowers
- 15. Fabric bows
- 16. Faggotting
- 17. Insertion
- 18. Piping
- 19. Tucks
- 20. Sewing Machine Embroidery
- 21. Rhinestones
- 22. Sequins work
- 23. Goldwork and zari work
- 24. Ruffles
- 25. Decorative Edge Finishes
- 26. Decorative Hem finishes
- 27. Using roulette loops
- 28. Bobbin work
- 29. Ruching
- 30. Dyeing
- 31. Stamping
- 32. Smocking
- 33. Shirring
- 34. Fabric origami
- 35. Ribbon embroidery
- 36. YoYos
- 37. Decorative pleats
- 38 Tassels
- 39. Mirror work
- 40. Shrinking fabric
- 41. Adding textured fabric as accent features
- 42. Distressed fabric
- 44.Open work
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.
Check out the tutorial on how to do Applique -12 different ways to do applique more details. Also check out the Hand applique tutorial and How to make applique letters tutorial
One very easy way to create your own pattern is to do applique with printed design motifs – the applique technique is called Borderie Perse. In this, printed motifs are cut and sewn on a plain or another printed fabric. Learn more about borderie perse applique work here.
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. Learn about the 10 different ways to join fabric pieces for patchwork
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 check out the post on how to embroider for more details. Do you know that there are more than 60 different embroidery techniques in existence (probably much more which I do not know about) and the different filling stitches you can make in hand embroidery to add texture? Check it out. The bullion stitch and french knots and other knot stitches are also great for texture.
Check out the 10 beautiful background hand embroidery stitches which are meant to give texture to the fabric.
Then there are the 12 types of 3D flowers you can make with embroidery.
4. Beading/ Beadwork
Beads add glitter, texture and beauty to fabric. You can sew/glue beads to fabric.
Check out these posts : Different ways of doing bead embroidery on fabric; and on the basic beading stitches you can use to sew the beads and the one which tells you how to make 10 easy to do bead embroidery flower motifs.
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. Here is a list of easy to make knots you can make with yarn/thread etc and add to fabric for that extra bit of texture which is knotty.
6. Fabric trims
You can sew the different types of fabric trims like ribbons, braids to the fabric to add texture to fabric.
Check out this post to make your own 4-strand braid.
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.
8. Fabric painting
Fabric painting uses a specially formulated paint to make designs on fabric. You can use the fabric paint to add a dimensional effect to the fabric as well
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. Check out the 10 ways of making fabric clothing patches and the 8 different ways to attach them on to clothes
10. Printing on Fabric
Printing on fabric is a great way to add designs on your clothes. You can add any designs to the fabric without any sewing involved using your inkjet printer at home. Commercially there are many techniques for printing on fabric. Check out the post on inkjet fabric printing that you can do on your own. There are other ways in which you can transfer images/pictures/photos onto your fabric – check out the post on 6 ways to transfer photos to 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. Here is a post to learn more about Reverse Applique.
This involves embroidering the initials of a person’s name in a particular way and is a very popular technique of embellishing clothes and accessories to customize and personalize them. Check out the post on the different ways to create and add monograms to fabric, tips on embroidering letters and Monogramming rules for more details. Checkout this tutorial on designing your own letters for embroidery
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. Find the tutorial to make 10 different types of fabric roses for more details. Also check out these posts on making flowers with felt; How to make DIY felt roses and for making fabric flowers
15. Fabric bows
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.
You can add lace between fabric panels ; check out this post on different methods for lace insertion. Lace will add transparency and texture to smooth fabric and will transform the look of ordinary fabric surface. You can join fabric pieces together decoratively with insertion stitches – check out the two ways of doing insertion stitches here
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. Check out the post on making and sewing piping.
Tucks are folds in fabric that 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 a pintuck foot and double needle stitching. Check out the posts on double needle stitching and Pintucks and other 9 types of tucks
20. Sewing Machine Embroidery
You can use embroidery sewing machines to make incredible designs on your fabric. Learn more about sewing machine embroidery here
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. Check out the post on free motion embroidery for more details
Rhinestones are flat backed beads which can be sewn or glued on to the fabric to add sparkle to garments and accessories. Check out the post on different ways to add rhinestones to fabric
22. Sequins work
You can add a lot of sparkle and texture by adding sequins to fabric (sew them or glue them) – Check out the 10 different ways of attaching sequins to fabric
23. Goldwork and zari work
Goldwork 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 are inserted through the hole in the zardosi strings and the work is completed like this. Check out the post on Zardosi embroidery work and the 10 basic embroidery stitches used and 12 types of metallic threads you can use for metallic embroidery
Ruffles are pleated or gathered fabric or trims used to decorate garments and accessories. Checkout this post on gathering fabric for more details.
25. Decorative Edge Finishes
Edge finishes need not be boring. You can finish the fabric edges with embroidery loops or buttonhole stitches ; For easy edge finishing techniques checkout this post. And then there are the 8 different decorative edge finishes.
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. Then there are embroidery hemstitching which adds a seperate beauty to ordinary hems.
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.
28. Bobbin work
This is a technique of doing embroidery with thick threads in the bobbin. The work will appear on the underside of the fabric facing the needle. This is a wonderful way to add texture to fabric. Checkout the post on bobbin work for more details
Ruching is basically gathering fabric so that there are patterned folds in the fabric; It is also called puffing in heirloom embroidery. Ruching is usually done along the bodice of dresses and sleeves along the centerline which is ruched creating attractive folds on either side of the center stitching line. You can ruche fabric by sewing the fabric with elastic. This is usually done with thin, sheer and transparent fabric as an overlay or a drapable cloth. Checkout the detailed tutorial for ruching fabric here.
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.
Check out these posts on dyeing clothes –
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.
Check out the posts on the 7 best stamping techniques and the best ink to use for stamping and a tutorial for making your own fabric stamps . If you like to make simple but beautiful stamps with potatoes check out this post “Potato stamp printing“.
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
This is the technique of gathering fabric by using elastic thread in the bobbin. Shirring in parallel lines can produce beautiful texture to the fabric. Checkout the tutorial on the best way to do shirring .
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. Checkout the different types of ribbons you can use as well as the post on the basic stitches used in the ribbon embroidery as well as 10 easy diy ribbon embroidered flowers (tutorials) .
A fabric yoyo is a gathered circle of fabric pieceS with small running stitches. The resultant fabric yoyos which resemble flowers are great for decorating fabrics. There are many ways to make yoyos- even heart shaped ones. Check out the tutorial to make yoyos here.
Learn how to applique these yoyos on fabric so that they look incorporated into the fabric in this page – How to make yoyo applique fabric. This is the ultimate in texture.
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
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.
39. Mirror work
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.
There are so many readymade fabrics with wonderful texture – Out of these check out the 30 best fabrics with texture here.
You can also add stiff fabrics to change the structure of the fabric.Check out the list of the 10 best stiff fabrics here.
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 as well as the correct way to rip fabric while leaving horizontal thread intact
This refers to making an impression of images or designs on the surface of a fabric with the help of heat and pressure. This is also called Blind Printing, and Relief Printing. A raised or lowered imprint of the design is made with stamps and application of heat. Checkout the post on doing embossing on velvet by yourself .
Drawn thread embroidery involves pulling out thread from the fabric and knotting the thread left in bundles or using decorative stitches over the drawn thread. This creates an open work with great texture on the fabric . Checkout the tutorial for drawn thread embroidery and pulled thread embroidery for more details. Cutwork, Hardanger embroidery, Borderie Anglaise are all open work which creates similar texture.
- 45. Stenciling
Stenciling creates patterns and designs on fabric surface with the help of thin cut out stencils made of metal, plastic, paper or wood. The holes in the stencil forms the designs on the fabric. Checkout the post on making your own stencils for more details
- 46. Stitch and Slash technique
Slashing fabric layers which are stitched together in parallel diagonal rows creates a beautiful visual and textural effect on the surface of the fabric which is unparalleled. No photo can reproduce the same impact you get when you see and feel the faux chenille fabric you have made with simple plain fabric pieces. Checkout the tutorial to make the faux chenille fabric and experience it yourself .
- 47. Scallops
Scallops are dome shaped stitching that is usually done along the fabric edge. You can make scallops by hand stitching with fine embroidery stitches or machine stitch the scallops with a facing or with decorative stitches in your sewing achine. Checkout the 5 ways to make scalloped edges.
- 48. Bubbling
This refers to the techniques used to create bubble-like appearance on the face of the fabric.
A simple enough way is to wet fabric, make small cotton balls and wrap these balls with the fabric very close to each other and tie them up with thread. If you leave them for a few days and then open them up, and remove the cotton balls the fabric will take on a texture of bubbles on the surface. For more methods using shibori techniques and wet and dry technique checkout this post on making bubble texture fabric
- 49. Wrinkling
This can create a beautiful texture on the fabric surface. One very easy method involves wet fabric and rubber bands. You will have to wet the fabric thoroughly – then wring out the full water – do this two or three times. Leave it in the wrung state, twisted and tie the fabric with rubber bands every 2 inches. Keep it the same way in a secure place to dry. Remove the rubber bands when the cloth feels dry to touch and open up.
- 50. Foiling
This refers to adding thin metallic foils on the surface of the fabric with the help of heat applied to it.Foiling adds a beautiful dimensional effect to the fabric with its shine and texture. It is used a great deal in home furnishing fabric and in textile art
- 51. Roughening
If you are seriously making real texture like the hard surface on a sculpture that you can even sketch and paint , it is not difficult with some household ingredients – Mix 3 parts PV glue and 2 parts water; add Talcum powder slowly till you get a thick consistency ( like the dough batter for cakes). Apply on fabric and use your tools and imagination to create the texture you want.When dry you will get your textured 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 do not 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?
- 17 Different types of Skirts
- 12 Different types of pants
- 50 Different types of collars
- 45 Different types of tops
- 45 Different types of dresses
- 40 Different types of sleeves