Embroidery, simply put, is the art or craft of decorating fabrics using needle and thread. Other than that, it may also involve the use of other decorative paraphernalia such a beads, pearls, and sequins to further enhance its aesthetic effect.
The art of embroidery has been around all over the world for thousands of years since the ability to sew, patch, and reinforce fabrics was discovered, leading to a greater possibility in decorating fabric using these materials.
What is fascinating about this art form is that, unlike most technologies, it cannot be said that it improves over time, or has acquired certain techniques that has uplifted its quality of output.
In fact, some older pieces of embroidery have been found to be pieces of unmatched craftsmanship that cannot be replicated by modern embroiderers.
In these modern times, and considering the amount of skill there is demanded by an embroidery piece, embroideries are now made more accessible and mass-produced for business purposes through the use of computerized machines that even have the ability to mimic the intricate designs of more historical pieces.
Despite the presence of technologies that are able to imitate such an elaborate art form, today there is still a place for those who are into hand-crafted embroidery.
In fact, embroiderers can even earn recognition for their skill though the City and Guilds qualification.
Materials for basic embroidery
- Embroidery hoops—This two-part device allows you to keep your fabric stretched for you to be able to loop threads through with ease; traditionally, they are made of wood. You can even see some of them in period movies where women are often seen embroidering. Nowadays, they are available in both wood and plastic. The wooden version has its own timeless charm though, and is best if you want to keep your embroideries on display
- Embroidery scissors—Simply, these are small sharp scissors that allow you to cut close in small spaces
- Embroidery floss/thread—You can choose from a wide assortment of colors depending on your intended design and color motif
- Your fabric of choice—In choosing an ideal fabric for embroidery, try to pick one that is neither too loosely nor too tightly woven. Some great choices are cotton, silk, linen, and canvas
- Embroidery needles–The difference with these needles is that they usually come with bigger eye holes to be able to accommodate the girth of the thick floss
- Marker—Find a water-soluble fabric marking tool that you can wash off after the embroidery has been laid out. With this type of tool, you will be able to draw designs and patterns onto your fabric to serve as a guide as you begin your embroidering
Common embroidery stitches
- Running stitch—Very similar as that of regular sewing. The floss is run through the fabric with breaks between each stitch
- Backstitch—Ideal for lettering. It can seem like the regular running stitch without the spacing between stitches
- Split stitch—Works somewhat like a backstitch, but more textured. This is perfect for decorative aspects such as grassy fields and such
- French knot—Best for when you want a dot on a character, or something similar for an object. French knots are quite known to be difficult to make, but can be done with ease after thorough practice
- Stem stitch—Those lovely delicate vines and stems you see on your grandma’s old handkerchief? They are most likely stem stitched
- Satin stitch—A great way to bring out big patches of color to your embroidery is through this type of stitch. If you have shapes or letters that you want to fill out, a satin stitch is your best option
- Straight and seed stitches—Also best to fill in shapes or certain areas, like the satin stitch but a lot more textured and bulkier. They are like running stitches, except that they do not follow a line or certain direction since they are made to fill up a space instead of creating an outline