Embroidery Ideas for Dresses

Written by jennifer mullett
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Embroidery Ideas for Dresses
Create your own patterns once you know the stitches. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Embroidery is a creative detail you can add to a store bought dress or use as an inspiration for a handmade dress. Whether you wish to jazz up a summer dress with a floral embroidery pattern, introduce sparkle to an evening dress or to personalise a daytime frock, embroidery can do the trick. With a few stitches under your belt, you will be able to embroider many different designs.


Embroidery thread can be found at any craft or sewing supply store in a multitude of colours. Choose a palette to complement or contrast the fabric of the dress. Embroider your pattern on the collar of the dress, the hemline or the sleeves. Ideas for patterns include knotted flowers, geometric designs, leaves and other botanicals or quirky characters. With a few basic embroidery stitches -- blanket stitch, chain stitch, stem stitch, split stitch and back stitch -- you can make your own designs or complete designs you find online or in a store.

Ribbon Embroidery

Silk ribbon embroidery allows you to vary embroidery stitches to produce designs with texture, shine and visual appeal. While ribbon embroidery is popular for Victorian embroidery, you can also use it to create modern-looking designs. For instance, a grouping of ribbon embroidered violets with a sage green stem and leaves embroidered on a plain white sundress will personalise the frock without overdoing it. Other ideas include daisies, knots, leaves of grass and brightly coloured flowers chosen in modern colour palettes. Practice your chosen design on scraps of fabric to ensure you are confident with the techniques before you alter your dress.

Beaded Embroidery

Embroider beads, sequins and mirror pieces to a party or wedding gown for extra sparkle and shine. Hand-beaded embroidery can be used as part of a design or by itself. Look to ethnic designs for inspiration from Indian saris and Irish dance dresses. Vintage wedding gowns and haute couture are other places to look for beaded embroidery designs. Experiment with beading by adding a bead fringe to a silk dress. For instance, jazz up your favourite little black dress with a garnet bead trim. Other ideas include adding sequins into an embroidery design and sewing glass beads into a pale blue evening gown.


Smocking is a type of hand embroidery popularly used for children's dresses. The smocking is created with a combination of pleating and embroidery, resulting in a pleated dress front with patterns and designs stitched across the pleats. Ideas for smocking include geometric designs, animals and flowers. Gingham fabrics are a common choice for smocking, but it can be done on different types of fabric. Smocking patterns can be found online or in sewing supply stores. One idea is to embroider a child's favourite animal onto the front of her dress.

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