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Popular Embroidery Techniques Used to Decorate Fabrics

Updated on July 31, 2012

Studies revealed that ancient people already know the fine art of embroidery. This is seen on the interlaced furs they made to clothe themselves. Archaeologists discovered that primitive man discovered make use of thread to join fur together, which they used for body protection or aesthetic purposes. The invention of needle and fabrics on the later years gives opportunity for modern man to learn and applied the more improved embroidery technique.

When we speak of embroidery, it is the art of decorating the surface of the material or fabric using thread and needle. The embroidery designs on the garment are formed by combining different stitches. Embroidery stitches are a combination of several thread strokes produced on the front side of the garment. There are lots of embroidery stitches that can be used in order to form the embroidery pattern on the garment. These stitches for embroidery usually range from easy to moderate and difficult.

Different Types of Embroidery Stitches

On this page, you will learn the different types of stitches that are commonly applied in decorating custom embroidered apparel.

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Back Stitch

Also referred to as point de sable.

This embroidery technique is old yet very adaptable for delicate outlining or even as foundation in composite stitches. Back stitch is slightly raised at the same time is worked in small and in an even manner.

Buttonhole Stitch

Also named as blanket stitch

This thread stroke is commonly used as an edging on blankets. The buttonhole stitch catches the loop of the thread on the surface of the fabric, hence untangling of woven garment is prevented.

Chain Stitch

Other name: tambour stitch and the point de chainette.

This is among the oldest decorative thread stroke and became the origin of various stitches. The chain stitch is simple to work. All you need is to put he needle I from the back, pull it through and hold the thread down with the left hand then continue the method until done.

Couching or Simple Laid Stitch

Other term is convent stitch and kloster stitch.

This type of embroidery stitch involves two sets of threads. The first thread is laid on the surface of the fabric and the other thread serves as attaching thread. The laid thread is usually heavier than the one used for attaching. This have been fully used by medieval embroiderers.

Cross Stitch

Other Name: sampler stitch, Berlin stitch or point de marque.

This thread stroke is a popular form of counted-thread embroidery and is based on the simple action of crossing one thread against the other.

Feather Stitch

Also referred to as single coral stitch and briar stitch.

This embroidery technique is the aftermath of decorative zigzag lines. It is composed of open, looped stitches worked alternately to the right and left of the central rib.

Knotted Stitch

Other name as coral stitch, German knot, or snail trail.

It is an old embroidery technique that creates a line that is akin to a row of knots. Coral knot is used for outlines and follows a curved detail well. This kind of embroidery stitch is usually seen in 17th and 18th century English crewel work.

Straight Stitch

Also known as single satin stitch and stroke stitch.

This thread stroke pass through the fabric surface in a simple up and down motion. This kind of stitch pattern is easy to work on. Your only concern is the consistency and firmness of each stitch.


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    • keepyouinstitches profile image

      Erica J 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great introduction for people interested in the terminology associated with different embroidery stitches.

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 5 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Very nicely illustrated!

    • Michael Jay profile image

      Michael Jay 7 years ago

      Great hub,nanetteparker! :)