The art of embroidery has always been prevalent in various cultures across the globe. Simply put, art has evolved from just patching, mending, and reinforcing of fabric to the high-level decorative art and folk art in different communities. After a while, the industrial revolution changed how and in what amount it was being produced.
Computer-controlled machines and embroidery digitizing techniques are leading the mass-production of embroidered goods. This modern customized embroidery can be seen everywhere in our daily lifestyle from shirts and dresses to tablecloths and shoes. Although, manual embroidery also exists and prevails over a section of the industry that produces highly unique and collectible designs.
Manual or hand embroidery refers to the needlework done by hand. Supplies needed for this handcraft are limited, so it’s easy to get started without a huge investment. Basic tools required to start embroidering include fabric, thread, needle, scissors, and hoop/frame. The base fabric is tightly stretched over a wooden or plastic hoop. A water-soluble marker is used to draw a personalized design on the fabric. Other materials like fabric stabilizers and canvases can be used depending upon the design.
The crafter has to decide what color of thread and the stitch type are to be employed in the design. Hand stitching will always result in a unique piece of work, even if exact threads and patterns are replicated. The thread (silk, cotton, or wool) used in hand embroidery is stranded, which can be separated for flatter/delicate look or can be combined for a different texture.
Manual handcraft can produce various types of embroidery, of different textures using various stitches like backstitch, chain stitch, blanket stitch, and satin stitch.
Examples – Crewelwork, blackwork, stumpwork, thread painting, and freestyle.
In computerized embroidery, the concepts of basic stitches, cross-stitching, and freestyle have all remained the same. The main change is the mechanizing of the process. It is done by computer-controlled machines that may have single or multiple needles, each with different threads loaded. This multi-needle machines may have multiple sewing heads so that it can sew the same design onto several pieces of clothing at the same time. Most machine embroidery requires fabric stabilizers to ensure that the underlying fabric doesn’t wrinkle.
The pre-designed patterns are loaded into the machine using embroidery digitizing software. The crafter can choose from plenty of designs or can create a customized embroidery design. You cannot edit the design on the go. The thread used in computerized embroidery is heavier, typically made of polyester, metallic, or rayon.
Each sewing head can produce effects like running stitch, chain stitch and satin stitch. The computerized machines can now majorly imitate the complex handcraft of the past.
Examples – Cutwork, appliqué, Sequin and 3D puff embroidery.
A hand-embroidered work is more personal and requires an investment of time to incorporate minute details and creativity. This type of work often creates unique, royal, and heavily-embroidered pieces.
On the other hand, computerized embroidery produces professional-looking designs in very less time comparatively. There is a broad range of designs available today that can be applied to every possible garment, accessories, and décor products.