Categorized | Embroidery

The Ancient Craft of Hand Embroidery

embroidery thread 300x300 The Ancient Craft of Hand EmbroideryHand embroidery is the process of using delicate thread to decorate fabric. The craft originated in Egypt and Northern Europe where hand embroidered robes, dresses and bedding were reserved for the royal family. These intricate details were hand stitched using silk threads for added beauty. Embroidery adds a unique touch to any item whether it is embroidering the name on a jacket today or taking the time to needlepoint intricate details into a pillow.

Throughout the 17th century hand embroidery was well known in the Medieval Islam World. It was a very popular craft that many people used to make money. Clothing, household items and religious objects were sold throughout Mexico, China, Japan, Persia, India and Europe.

Embroidery takes many forms today. Intricate details are embellished on silk and satin fabrics that are used for dresses and bedding, most are made in factories. Hand embroidery is a popular craft today for anyone looking for a challenge. There are many different types of embroidery that include basic embroidery and stenciled embroidery. Stenciled embroidery is where a crafter embroiders an item based on the outline that is already printed on a piece of fabric.

Cross stitch is another form of embroidery that is increasingly popular today. With this, a person will use a canvas type material as a guide for an image. Counted cross stitch is where the pattern is counted by the squares on the cloth. Counted cross stitch is great for beginners. Any method of embroidery can be learned through classes or by purchasing books.

Hand embroidery is increasingly time consuming depending on the type of project that you would like to complete. However, unlike other needle crafts, there is a world of opportunities for patterns. From embroidered linens and bedding to pillows and blankets, the possibilities are really endless.  Embroidery is something that can also lead to a side career if you choose. Even something as simple as embroidering names on athlete jackets and sweatshirts for the local sports teams can be used as an opportunity to earn additional income with your craft.

Hand embroidery takes time to learn and master. There are a variety of different types of threads and string that can be used. Basic cotton string is popular for cross stitch and also for items such as pillows that are embroidered. However, silk threads are the preferred choice for delicate clothing items and linens. There are different types of embroidering techniques as well which take time and practice to learn. The end result of hand embroidery work is unmatched by any machine, but many people do not take the time and effort to learn these skills. They are well worth the time and effort if you are interested in a needlecraft that few people are skill at today and that helps create the most unique and beautiful crafts.

46 Responses to “The Ancient Craft of Hand Embroidery”

  1. Rickie says:

    My Grandmother used to do the most intricate colourful embroidery in tablecloths and napkins. Shame it’s becoming such a lost art I think. May take up classes in this in the future so I can pass it on to my own children. Thanks for the interesting article, always good to know a bit about the history of these things.

  2. Donna-Marie says:

    My Grandma used to do a lot of embroidery on tablecloths and pillowcases too. Thankfully, she taught me how to do it before she passed away (although I haven’t done much lately).

    Recently my son told me his favourite pillowcase was the one with the little bluebirds embroidered on it … one my Grandma made when I was very small.

    It does seem to be becoming a lost art, but it’s something that can be treasured for generations to come when we take the time to create such precious items.

  3. base layer says:

    I want to thank you for this post. In the history of hand embroidery though you left out Italy. Especially in the south of Italy where embroidery has been passed on from generation to generation. Keep up the good work and continue educating others!

  4. Thanks for the info, I found it very interesting. I’m about to start embroidering a pair of pillow cases for a close friend getting married in January. I’ve chosen white pillow cases as I figured they’ll go with most bedding. Wish me luck!

  5. Bryon Laycox says:

    Have experimented with various brands of thread and of course like anything some brands are better than others. Thanks for informative post :)

  6. I love the idea of taking your favourite photo of your baby or pet or something important to you and embroidering it onto something else that’s practical. Hope you understand what I mean?

  7. Daniel Tan says:

    You know the one thing that is needed in our communities is classes in how to do good old fashioned embroidery. It would be easier than learning from a book and good companionship too.

  8. I need to make the point that absolutely any design can be recreated as a magnificent embroidery if you’re prepared to put in the time and effort. Nicely done site.

  9. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on complicated knitting stitches. Lunch was actually bought for me because I passed it on…

  10. Davinia says:

    Think you would need to be an expert to make decent money other than pocket money out of embroidery.

  11. Ange H says:

    Fascinating post about embroidery. Thanks for sharing :-)

  12. The reason I love embroidery is because it is so easy to personalize an item and make it special. :)

  13. Hand embroidery is one of those tasks that is best learnt off an old hand like a Grandmother. They’re often more than willing.

  14. Scarlett says:

    It does seem to be a dying art in Europe except in the tourist areas unfortunately. Colorful exquisite works of art when you can find some that are genuinely hand made.

  15. Mexico has delightfully colorful embroidered items for sale, Peru also. :-)

  16. Sarah Watson says:

    Nicely done! I’m just starting out learning embroidery so glad I cam across this site. :)

  17. Bonnie says:

    I discovered that cheaper threads can run if you try to gently wash your project…bummer!

  18. Trish Forde says:

    Interesting angle you chose for this post on hand embroidery. Some cheaper threads are of poor quality and this affects the standard of work you can achieve and much frustration in getting it untangled. I gave up and went back to my usual brand – a lesson well learned!

  19. Willow Pinkerton says:

    I’m impressed with what you’ve written about. Hand embroidery has indeed been passed on down the ages, we must carry this tradition on to preserve it.

  20. Patricia Reid says:

    I think many people today want things instantly so don’t want to spend the time embroidery demands to create something beautiful.

  21. Hi Emmaline here, I remember my Grandmama embroidering beautiful things like table napkins and according to my Mom my Great Grandma too. Keep up the good work.

  22. H Lewis says:

    I am baffled about knotting my embroidery work or not. I have been told by two different people two different answers.

    Interesting to read about embroidery’s roots. ;)

  23. Thank you for your interesting blog.I love hand embroidery. I’v just completed a his and hers hand embroidered pillowslips for a couple about to get married.

  24. S Chambers says:

    My advice to new people is to stick with it and you’ll get better and better over time. Embroidery wasn’t supposed to be mastered over night.

  25. Fascinating article that intrigued me about the history of hand embroidery. Silk thread must have looked stunning.

  26. Ellen says:

    Your post is full of wisdom about hand embroidery. I look forward to trying it out soon.

  27. Hilary says:

    a lot of patience is required to learn hand embroidery. worth it in the end.

  28. Vanessa W says:

    A beautiful hand embroidered robe as mentioned in your blog post. That would be just stunning to create. Great ideas so keep them coming please.

  29. Stephanie says:

    It seems so many areas of the world produced exquisite hand embroidery. Great post!

  30. Jenny says:

    Interesting article. In my opinion tis a priceless gift to receive something hand embroidered like a handkerchief with your initials on.

  31. Sarah Harding says:

    You talked about different types of embroidery. Have you noticed how embroidery mass produced often comes unraveled really quickly.

  32. H Burge says:

    I take my hat off to you about your knowledge of hand embroidery. Most interesting :)

  33. Nelly L says:

    I love your with when you write :0 Silk thread sounds extravagant yet so divine.

  34. Rochelle says:

    A good read thanks! In my opinion, using a machine is cheating :)

  35. You say counted cross stitch is for beginners. I’m not certain how to step up from counted cross stitch to hand embroidery. Maybe I just need to have faith I can do nice even work. You’ve given me food for thought.

  36. For counted cross stitch I think the fabric is called Aida or something like that. It’s really good for the beginner like me lol!

  37. Thanks for the great idea for my next project, hand embroidery for my child’s sports team – awesome!!!

  38. Anonymous says:

    I learnt to begin with doing stenciled embroidery and found this a much easier way to learn. Anybody else?

  39. Julia Foster says:

    Well done on your article. Hand embroidery does take a certain level of skill and perseverance but the end result of what you’ve spent time creating is unique.

  40. I’ve found useful info at your site particularly on embroidery. I’m an avid fan of hand embroidery and feel mass produced machined embroidery is of no comparison for gorgeous intricate hand embroidery.

  41. Great site and information here on a wide range of crafts. I’ll be here all day with these gems! Hand embroidery does indeed take time but well worth the effort.

  42. In total agreement with you dear that counted cross stitch is perfect for beginners in embroidery. Good write up too.

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