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Learn the Art of Embroidery

Updated on March 6, 2019
Tricia Deed profile image

Tricia Deed is a freelance writer describing the different types of hobbies which can be done during our leisure hours.

Embroidery Needlework

Hands at work embroidering a butterfly pattern onto fabric.
Hands at work embroidering a butterfly pattern onto fabric. | Source

Art of Embroidery - Decorating with Thread

The art of embroidery is a creative hobby for those who like to paint pictures or designs with colored threads or yarns on fabric.

There are decorative embroidered borders or initials on both male and female handkerchiefs, cuffs of long sleeved blouses and shirts, tunic tops, and decorator features on women's blouses.

Western wear for both men and women have embroidery work. Infants and children's clothing are decorated with embroidery threads. Many theatrical costumes are laced with embroidery needlework.

Fabric home decorations of table scarves, pillow covers, and bedspreads continue to feature embroidery. Embroidered wall hangings, ornaments, and pictures decorate many walls.

Costuming, clothing for wealthy or people of royalty status have pearls and other beads incorporated into the needlework process.

Embroidery as a needle craft which has been around for many centuries and will continue to be enjoyed now and in the future.

Today one can see sequins embroidered on women's and men's garments. It has been my experience that this type of sequin decorating is very common in the Middle Eastern countries and India. Most of the heavily sequined decorated garments worn in the United States are used for evening wear and other special events which require glitz and sparkles.

The theater costume department uses sequins for many of their royalty costumes. Entertainers of every media, Ice skaters, roller skaters, belly dancers, musical bands, vocalists, and more also enjoy the glamour and sparkle of sequins and shiny beads .

Today sequined fashion is seen during the day and night. T-shirts and sweaters have sequins for daytime use. Blouses, skirts, and gowns are embellished with sequins for evening wear.

What Is Floss?

Embroidery floss is composed of six strands of fabric. It is ideal to divide the strands into 3 sets with each set containing 2 strands of floss. Three strands would be too thick unless you have a special reason for wanting the extra thickness. The floss is available in cotton, rayon, and silk. The choice of thread corresponds with the fabric being used. There are many choices of colors.

This floss is threaded through an embroidery needle which has a long eye to accommodate the size of the strand.

Embroidery Needle and Hoop

Embroidery in progress on hoop
Embroidery in progress on hoop | Source

Embroidery Tools

Embroidery is an inexpensive hobby and will while away the hours with quiet pleasure.

Tools which will be needed include:

  1. A pair of scissors
  2. Floss
  3. Embroidery hoop
  4. A design

The hoop is used to stretch the fabric to support even stitching. The hoop is held with one hand while you stitch along the designated lines of the pattern with the other hand. Embroidering by hand, like knitting, is a portable needle work which may be done in any location.

Embroidery Art

Children's smocked dresses with embroidered designs.
Children's smocked dresses with embroidered designs. | Source

Categories of Beginner Embroidery

There are many types or categories of embroidery:

  1. Start with simple pre-printed designs on handkerchiefs, table scarves, or pillow covers. These designs are usually color coded.
  2. Purchase an embroidery kit which contains the fabric with design and threads to complete a project.
  3. Transfer an embroidery design and stitch it to a blouse, skirt, or a pair of pockets on your denim jeans.

Do you like doing cross-stitch? You may wish to try bargello, (a technique originating from Italy) which is traditional canvas work using the counted thread technique.

Chinese Embroidery

The delicate needlework on a Chinese robe.
The delicate needlework on a Chinese robe. | Source

Museums of Embroidery

Visiting museums can educate you to the beginnings of embroidery. This needlework craft began in China. Most of the Chinese and Japanese kimonos were stitched with silk floss and 24 karat gold threads. The people who did the needlework excelled at their art and craftsmanship. Royalty and families of wealth wore these lavish clothing.

A recent visit to an early American museum displayed ‘samplers’ on their walls. These particular samplers were produced by young girls. The museum curator told us that this was a way of how young women demonstrated their hand sewing skills to prospective husbands.. The ones which we saw hanging on the walls contained alphabets, verses, and decorated borders with or without flowers. The designs were very simple.

Embroidered Cultural Costumes

Bulgarian folk costume illustrating embroidery work.
Bulgarian folk costume illustrating embroidery work. | Source

International Dance Shows

Attend International Dance events and enjoy viewing embroidered folkloric costumes worn by the performing dancers and entertainers. The blouses, skirts, hats, tunics, pouches, belts, shoes, slippers, and kerchiefs are bordered with colorful threads of embroidery. Most of these garments were made of cotton with cotton embroidery threads. These dancers and performers represented Sweden, Germany, Greece, Italy, Middle East, Mexico, Peru, China, Japan, the Philippines and India.

Often designs created on these garments represent the region of the country from which the people called home.

Gold threads or silver threads were used in garments which represented the status and wealth of the individual wearing the garment.

Machine stitching and Monogramming

Samples of machine stitching
Samples of machine stitching | Source

Machine Embroidery

Approximately during the mid 1800’s and the latter half of the 19th century machine manufactured embroideries saw their beginnings.

Machine embroidery is possible with the new computerized sewing machines. Just plug in the software and add logos and monograms to garments or decorative household linens, drapes, and so on.

37 Hand Embroidery Tips and Tricks

Needlework Art

There are many types of needlework art.

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