Embroidery – The Process of Forming Decorative Designs on Fabric!

What Is It All About?

Embroidery is a true art form. A needle, thread and fabric is to an embroiderer what a brush, paint and canvas is to a painter. This craft is the process of decorating fabric with designs created using needle and thread. You will often see these beautiful creations on blouses, handbags, shirts, pants and many other clothing articles. This handicraft is also very often found as framed wall art and other purely decorative items.

The beginnings of embroidery are very old with examples surviving from Iron Age Europe, the Zhou Dynasty China and ancient Egypt. Through much of this long time period the techniques and materials have changed very little. Throughout time elaborately decorated clothing have been the mark of status and wealth. During this history, the skills to create these items of art have traditionally been passed down from one generation to the next.


There are several different types of embroidery based on whether the pattern is stitched on top or through the host fabric as well as the relationship of the stitch placement to the cloth. Here are some short descriptions:

Free embroidery involves applying the design without regard to the weave of the host fabric. Examples of this type include traditional Japanese and Chinese embroidery and crewel.

Count Thread designs are created by making the stitches across a set number of threads in the host fabric. This type of work is usually done on a host fabric with an even-weave.

Canvas work designs utilize a fabric mesh through which threads are stitched to create a dense pattern that will completely cover the mesh. Bargello is a traditional form of this type of work.

Drawn thread work and cutwork styles involve cutting away portions of the host fabric to create holes around which embroidery is used to embellish the design. This type of work is also sometimes referred to as needlelace.

Whitework involves creating designs using white thread on white linen or cotton fabric.

Blackwork most often utilizes black silk thread on a white high thread count even weave cotton or linen. The overall effect using only a few simple stitches is that of complexity and being very ornate.

The craft utilizes a number of basic stitches. These are the chain stitch, buttonhole or blanket stitch, running stitch, satin stitch and cross stitch. All stitches are started on the wrong side of the material by making two or three small stitches to anchor the thread. It is important that you never make a knot. To learn more about making stitches check the web as there are some great descriptive sites.

Some Reasons to Learn Embroidery

Aside from creating beautiful art there are a number of other reasons to begin this craft.

Relaxation is one of the most important. Like several of the fabric crafts, this one allows you to sit quietly and become lost in tranquil thought while you create your work of art. It is a quiet craft with low physical effort, perfect for sitting by yourself in a corner or amongst the family after dinner.

This art form is very inexpensive to get started. There are very few tools and the few items you do need are quite inexpensive. The tools you need include a hoop, some fabric, a needle, some thread and a pair of scissors. Pretty basic!

This craft is portable meaning you don’t need to have a special work area set aside for it. You can take it with you wherever you go. In the car, on vacation to the kids sporting events and anywhere else where you might have some free time.

This is a great hobby if you like to create handmade gifts for friends and family. After you have learned a few basic techniques you will never again be short of gifts for Christmas. It is simply a wonderful feeling when you can say that you made it yourself.

Embroidery also is a hobby that you can use for a little extra cash. After you satisfy your gift needs, you can turn to sites like ETSY and eBay to sell you works of art.

Finishing Up

Like every art form, some basic understanding is needed to be fully enjoyed and appreciated. This insight into the principles creates the urge to “paint” with your needle and thread. Begin simply with perhaps a kit from the craft store which will contain all of the basics you need for a successful project. From this first effort you will blossom into a creator of fine art. Again, make sure you have some fun while you are at it!

Other descriptors include fun hobbies, hobby ideas, craft ideas and hobbies for women.

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