The history of clothing and textiles suggests that the process of patching, mending and reinforcing the cloth led to the development of embroidery craft. This craft has existed since the Upper Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age), which has been inherited into various cultures across the globe. This craft worldwide can be distinguished by different sewing techniques and the decorations incorporated into it.
Once upon a time, this art became popular among women in wealthy families. However, around the year 1900, it opened out from the preserves of the upper-class and became a favourite pastime for a lot of females. It was no longer done just on expensive fabrics, but on other fabrics as well. During the Industrial Revolution, machines were invented that enabled its mass production. Machines continued to evolve and now using embroidery digitizing, we can stitch out any simple to complex designs on our clothing material.
Types of Embroidery
Embroidery can be classified on the basis of the level to which the quality of the base fabric is used into the design and by the placement of the stitches onto the fabric. There are three main categories as follows:
- Free or surface embroidery: The designs are applied using decorative stitches on top of the underlying fabric rather than through the fabric.
- Crewelwork – The designs are made using wool threads.
- Traditional Japanese and Chinese embroidery
- Counted-thread embroidery: In this type, the embroiderer stitches over a predetermined number of threads in the foundation fabric. Mostly, the even-weave fabric is used as a base material such as embroidery canvas, Aida cloth or specially woven cotton and linen fabrics.
- Assisi work – The background is filled with cross-stitch and the main motif of the design is left blank with an outline.
- Hardanger embroidery – Designs are made with white thread on white even-weave cloth. It is also called as whitework.
- Needlepoint or canvas work: Threads are stitched through the canvas to create a dense pattern that completely covers the base material.
- Bargello – The motifs are created by vertical stitches combined with the stepping of colours to form geometrical shapes and patterns such as flame zigzag, diamonds, etc.
- Berlin wool work – The designs are executed on the canvas using wool yarn. Traditional Berlin wool work contains many hues and colours that produce seemingly three-dimensional patterns.
Apart from these, there are various othertypes of embroidery. They reflect our cultural heritage,and reflectthe techniques and fabrics that were available in different regions at different times. Jacobean embroidery, cutwork, Chikankari, Phulkari, Zardozi, Kashidakari are some more techniques that have inspired generations of designers over the years.
Machine Embroidery Classifications
Machine embroidery can be classified into two categories based on machines and their functionalities:
- Free-motion machine embroidery: Designs are created using a simple zigzag sewing machine.
- Computerized machine embroidery: This uses computer-controlled machines that are specifically engineered for embroidery. E.g. applique and 3d puff embroidery.
Presently, most of the commercial embroidery work is done using embroidery digitizing software and computerized machines. One of its popular use is customized embroidery, in which the business logos and monograms are embroidered on all sorts of apparel.
There are countless types of embroidery developed by the human race over time that are currently in practice, and are used by the people in different regions. Also, as the modern computerized embroidery is evolving, we are still exploring new techniques and fabrics to work with.