Embroidery – All You Need To Know

Embroidery is the handiwork of adorning of materials like fabric with thread and needle or yarn. Embroidery may further encompass other materials like metal pearls, strips, beads, sequins and quills. It is mostly employed on hats, caps, coats, dress shirts, blankets, denim, golf shirts and stockings. Embroidery is accessible with a broad range of yarn or thread color.

Caucasus embroidery

An appealing feature of embroidery is that the primary techniques or stitches on existing examples of the initial embroidery—buttonhole or blanket stitch, chain stitch, running stitch, cross stitch, satin stitch—continue to be the essential techniques of hand embroidery presently.


Embroidery dates back to the Warring States period (5th-3rd century BC) of antique China. The process used to patch, mend, tailor and reinforce cloth thus fostering the advent of sewing techniques, and the ornamental probable of sewing preceded the art of embroidery. In a clothing from Migration period Sweden, roughly 300–700 CE, the ends of bands of decoration are strengthened with running stitch, whip stitching, stem stitch, tailor’s buttonhole stitch, and back stitch, but it is unclear whether this work merely reinforced the seams or should be translated as decorative embroidery.

It is an interesting fact that in the growth of embroidery … there are no alterations of techniques or materials which can be felt or translated as improvements from basic to a later, more advanced stage. In addition, we every so often find in old works a technical achievement and high quality craftsmanship scarcely reached at in later times.

Richly embroidered clothing, household items and religious objects have been an indication of riches and class in various cultures incorporating antique Persia, China, India, Byzantium, Japan, and medieval and Baroque Europe. Conventional folk techniques are transferred from generation to generation in cultures as varying as northern Vietnam, Eastern Europe and Mexico. Specialist workshops and guilds began in medieval England. The productivity of these workshops, known as Opus Anglicanum or “English work,” was popular all through Europe.

Industrial Revolution

The advancement of machine embroidery on a bulk production scale arose about in stages. The initial machine embroidery employed incorporation of machine looms and teams of women sewing the textiles by use of hand. This was performed in France by the mid-1800s.

The manufacturing of machine-created embroideries in St. Gallen in eastern Switzerland blossomed in the latter half of the 19th century.


Embroidery can be categorized in accord to whether the design is sewed on top of or through the basic fabric, and by the connection of stitch placement to the fabric.

In toll-free embroidery, designs are applied without consideration to the weave of the fundamental fabric. Examples incorporate crewel and conventional Chinese and Japanese sewing.

Cross-stitch counted-thread embroidery. Tea-cloth, Hungary, mid-20th century

Counted-thread embroidery designs are made by making stitches over a predestined number of threads in the fundamental fabric. Counted-thread embroidery is more easily worked on an even-weave foundation fabric like embroidery canvas, aida cloth, or uniquely woven linen and cotton fabrics though non-even weave linen is utilized as well. Examples involve needlepoint and some types of blackwork embroidery.

Hardanger, a whitework technique. Contemporary.

In canvas work threads are sewn through a fabric mesh to make a dense design that entirely covers the foundation fabric. Conventional canvas work like bargello is a counted-thread technique.From the 19th century, hand painted and printed canvases, on which the printed or painted image functions as a guide to the placement of the several yarn or thread colors, have removed the need for counting threads. These are specifically suitable to pictorial rather than geometric patterns such as those originating from the Berlin wool work craze of the beginning of 19th century.

In drawn thread work and cutwork, the foundation fabric is distorted or cut away to construct holes that are then stitched with embroidery, every so often with thread in a similar color as the foundation fabric. These methods are the predecessors of needlelace. When constructed with white thread on white cotton or linen, this work is communally referred to as whitework.


The yarns and materials employed in conventional embroidery differ from region to region. Linen, wool, and silk have been in usage for thousands of years for both fabric and yarn. Presently, embroidery thread is manufactured in rayon, cotton and novelty yarns as well as in conventional wool, linen, and silk. Ribbon embroidery employs narrow ribbon in silk or silk/organza blend ribbon, most generally to make floral motifs.

Surface embroidery methods such as couching and chain stitch or laid-work are the most cost-effective of costly yarns; couching is normally used for gold work. Techniques in Canvas work, in which big amounts of yarn are buried on the back of the work, employ more materials but give a sturdier and more valuable end textile product.

In both surface embroidery and canvas work an embroidery frame or hoop can be employed to stretch the substance and guarantee even stitching tension that precludes design distortion. Recent canvas work leans toward following symmetrical counted sewing patterns with designs coming from the replication of one or just a few same stitches in a diversity of hues. Contrary, numerous types of surface embroidery employ a vast range of stitching designs in a sole piece of work.


Much contemporary embroidery is sewed by a computerized embroidery machine employing designs “digitized” with embroidery software. In machine embroidery, various forms of “fills” add texture and pattern to the finished work. Machine embroidery is employed to insert logos and monograms to business gifts, shirts or jackets and team apparel as well as to adorn household linens, draperies, and decorator fabrics that imitate the elaborate hand embroidery of the past.


City and Guilds qualification in Embroidery permits embroiderers to be identified for their skill. This qualification also presents them the trustworthiness to teach. For instance the prominent textiles artist, Kathleen Laurel Sage, started her training career by getting the City and Guilds Embroidery 1 and 2 qualifications. She has now continued to writing a book on the discipline.