All You Need to Know About Embroidery

All You Need to Know About Embroidery

Embroidery is the art of creating designs on fabric using thread and needles. This technique was derived from one of our oldest skills—sewing. For centuries, trading textiles was a very lucrative business. The trade saw the exchange of ideas between people from many different countries. Therefore, you can get information about the history of embroidery based on style, color, fabric, and thread alone. This article will discuss the various forms of embroidery in use today and how you can make a hobby out of it.

Tapestry vs. Embroidery

These terms are often used synonymously but are quite different in their definitions. Tapestry is typically used to describe the process of weaving a pattern into the fabric as it is being made. Embroidery, on the other hand, is the ornamentation of fabric by creating designs using thread and a needle.


The type of stitch employed in embroidery is dependent upon the type of fabric being used. The main types of stitches used in embroidery are surface work and counted thread work.

  • Counted thread work

Here, the direction and size of the stitches plus the pattern are determined by the type of the woven background material. In counted thread work, you essentially have to count the number of threads down and across the material. Tent stitch and cross stitch are some of the more well-known stitches applied in this technique. Linen has primarily been the go-to material for using this method; however, some kinds of cotton are also used. Developments in technology have seen the creation of synthetic even-weave materials that can also be used efficiently.

  • Surface work

Surface work, also known as free work, is a stitching technique where the embroiderer places stitches on the background material as desired. This free-form technique allows for more creativity and flexibility.

The best type of stitches in this category include chain, straight, running, and satin stitch. Additionally, wools, cotton, and silks are also preferred materials of choice.

Embroidery Techniques

Embroidery is typically classified into two categories of technique: hand and machine embroidery.

  • Hand embroidery

This method can be further divided into embroidery that uses decorative threads and embroidery that employs the use of decorative materials such as purl and glass beads, ribbons, stones, etc.

A majority of veteran sewers find embroidering by hand more relaxing than using machines. However, it can be quite tedious and time-consuming; it is not unusual for a project to take months to complete. New sewers can find this to be quite discouraging, as they often haven’t yet developed the patience needed to achieve such a project.

Hand embroidery also requires a plethora of tools. It goes without saying that the lack of proper equipment or use of sub-standard tools often results in unflattering designs. A lot of sewers will usually find themselves needing materials such as embroidery frames, sewing scissors, lap frames, and floor stands just to perform hand embroidery. This technique can also be challenging if you are using substantial pieces of fabric such as those used in curtains and bedsheets.

While quite tedious, this method delivers more precise stitches and gives you a more significant degree of freedom as compared to machines. The project also has a much more personal feel.

  • Machine embroidery

At their inception, embroidery machines were only used by professionals. However, amateur sewers and hobbyists are now also using machines to pursue their craft. Contrary to prior models, the devices today are custom-built for all budgets.

Sewers will usually have several kinds of machines to select from. These types include free-motion embroidery or sewing machines. There are also computer programmed and controlled machines; however, these are generally reserved for more experienced users. Embroidery machines typically have only one needle. However, some models come with several needles to assist you in finishing your project as fast as possible. Most machines also come with features that let you indulge in quilting.

Benefits of Practicing Embroidery

  1. Interior Décor

There is no need for you to employ the services of an interior designer if you know how to sew. Armed with an inexpensive sewing machine, you can turn your typical family home into something that is worthy of a magazine. It may surprise you to learn that this does not take extensive skill or time, either.

With a little bit of dedication and training, you will be able to make kitchen towels, slipcovers for your chairs, fabric covers for headboards, and more. Additionally, there are a plethora of fabric designs out there—just pick one that suits your taste, and your home will be truly unique.

  1. Create Gifts for Kids

There is nothing that will warm your heart more than to see your child don something that you created and to know that both of you love it. Believe it or not, it does not take much skill to make a t-shirt or a gathered skirt. You know what your child likes, and this means you will employ designs that will reflect his or her personality. The kid-themed fabric choices are so plentiful that they can be overwhelming. You’ll never run out of options in that department!

You will have even more fun sewing and embroidering for babies. This skill will make you invaluable, especially when you have a friend or family member becoming a new mom. Blankets, bedding, and burp cloths are all excellent choices to create for the little ones.

  1. Save Money

Think about how much you spend on pillowcases, bags, aprons, and quilts. Purchasing fabric to make them yourself is much less costly, and you can make several with the materials you buy. Additionally, the leftover fabrics can be used to make baby gifts for your friends or small items such as pot holders or scarves.

  1. Going Green

Everything about sewing and embroidery is about recycling. You can repurpose anything and everything made out of fabric. You can also visit yard sales and thrift stores to get the best selections of materials.

A man’s dress shirt could find itself turned into a girl’s dress. Duvet covers can be transformed into shower curtains. The possibilities are limitless.

  1. Accomplishment

Creating something from scratch using your hands will always heighten your sense of accomplishment. This will give you the confidence to attempt even more complex designs, and your creativity will also grow. This means that you will start coming up with your own unique designs, which will not only set your home apart but will also reflect who you are.

As you can see, the different types and styles of embroidery make it a fun and rewarding hobby that is conducive to creating just about anything you can think of. Search for fun patterns and ideas on Pinterest or YouTube, or design your own and share them online! The benefits are numerous, the ideas abundant, and the creativity limitless. Learning the basics of embroidery will open up a whole new world for you, so why not give it a try today?

The Inspired Sewist is your one-stop shop for anything embroidery- and sewing-related. We are based in Jupiter, Florida, and we aim to encourage, preserve, and promote all aspects of textile arts and embroidery by providing an avenue for people to further their knowledge and skills. We also offer sewing machines, classes, supplies, and repair. Our extensive knowledge of various techniques will ensure that we can guide you through any type of project you’d like to take on. Contact us for all your quilting and sewing needs.