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Embroidery is a type of handicraft that is used to decorate fabric materials. It typically uses different types of yarns or threads that are worked to eventually produce an image or a pattern. Around the world, a large number of cultures have historically used varying forms of embroidery to decorate clothes, footwear, and household items such as cushions, towels, and handkerchiefs. Whether you are an embroidery veteran or completely new to this fascinating artform, the resources below will help you to discover more about embroidery.


Embroidery can be traced back as early as the Ancient Egyptians to the European Iron Age. Even in China, ancient examples of embroidery created in fine silk have been discovered. Embroidery was not only valued for its aesthetics, but also for the fact that it created a physically strong and lasting piece of work. When we examine embroidery in different cultures, we can see that each culture has their own different methods and techniques of embroidery. In Medieval times in Europe, intricate embroidery was an extremely popular way to decorate clothing and make it look richer. By the Victorian era, it had transformed from work to a hobby too.


The basic tools that an embroiderer uses are needles and a frame to stretch the cloth on. Next, according to the pattern they have chosen, they pick the thread or floss. This can vary in width, color, material, and texture. For a coarser look, one might choose a rough wool, while silk lends an air of smooth elegance. A basic sewing kit with a pair of scissors is very helpful to have on hand. Since embroidery usually follows a pattern or geometric shapes, it is essential to keep a pen and paper nearby to maintain a counting chart. Machine embroidery requires a computer with image-editing software as well as the embroidery machine.

Techniques and Stitches

Based on the type of embroidery or pattern planned, there are several different types of stitches to choose from. Among the most popular are straight stitches, back stitches, button hole stitches, and chain stitches. Before starting on a project, it is helpful to practice a new stitch in a few different patterns on a piece of fabric. Start out slowly and make sure to check your work against the counting chart to stay on the right track. Losing track of the count can make you end up with a pattern that has gone awry. Apart from the basic stitches, there are also other types of stitches for advanced embroiderers. There are plenty of tutorials online about older and regional types of embroidery, including East Asian embroidery, Medieval and Victorian stitches, and more!

 Baby Alphabet QuiltMachine Embroidery

The style of embroidery can differ according to the machine. Free-motion machines produce a type of zigzag stitch. Computerized embroidery machines, which are largely used for industrial purposes, can create a much more exact and detailed match. When using a machine, the embroiderer first needs to finalize a design. It is best if it is a high-resolution image. After editing it, the image is loaded into the machine. Next, adjust the placement of the fabric in the machine and start the embroidering process. Do be sure to always stay nearby to check that there are no glitches during the embroidery.


There are a large number of groups dedicated to embroidery in the United States and worldwide. Within the U.S., there is an official guild for embroiderers, as well as a trade association for commercial embroiderers. Other associations include unofficial local clubs, groups for youths, and specialty embroidery groups. Joining an embroidery group is a great way to learn from others, trade knowledge, meet people with similar interests, and find out more about new happenings in the world of embroidery.