Embroidery is an ancient variety of decorative needlework in which designs and pictures are created by stitching strands of some material on to a layer of another material. Most embroidery uses thread or wool stitched onto a woven fabric, but the stitches could be executed in, for example, wire or leather strands, and embroidery can be worked onto many materials. Non-woven traditional materials include leather and felt, but modern textile artists embroider on many non-traditional materials such as plastic sheeting. Often, specific embroidery stitches are used.
This article is predominantly about hand embroidery, which is embroidery done without the help of a sewing machine or similar electric tool. Machine embroidery has become a vast subject on its own. It is both used for creative work on individual pieces and for mass-produced clothing products.
Embroidery has traditionally been used to decorate clothing and household furnishings including table linens, tray cloths, towels and bedding, but you can literally embroider anything as long as it is made out of an evenly woven fabric and can be held firmly in the hand or in a special embroidery hoop or tapestry frame. The art of hand embroidery is a painstaking and laborious process, but today garments are often decorated with machine embroidery instead.
Embroidery has also been used as a form of art and for decoration, through the creation of embroidered or cross-stitch samplers, tapestries, wall-hangings and other works of textile art. Some types of patchwork also incorporate embroidery as a form of extra decoration.
Annemieke Mein is one example of a contemporary textile artist who creates embroidered work.
Embroidery Styles and Techniques
Some embroidery styles include:
Cross-stitch (can mean the particular stitch or a style of embroidery)