The Craft Atlas is a platform to discover global craft techniques & makers
Craft type: Embroidery
Embroidery is the craft of decorating fabric or other materials using a needle to apply thread or yarn.
Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as pearls, beads, quills, and sequins. In modern days, embroidery is usually seen on caps, hats, coats, blankets, dress shirts, denim, dresses, stockings, and golf shirts. Embroidery is available with a wide variety of thread or yarn color.
Some of the basic techniques or stitches of the earliest embroidery are chain stitch, buttonhole or blanket stitch, running stitch, satin stitch, cross stitch. Those stitches remain the fundamental techniques of hand embroidery today.
Kuba textiles are elaborate embroidered cloth made of raffia (palm leaf) fiber, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are unique in their elaboration and complexity of design and surface decoration.
Most textiles are a variation on rectangular or square pieces of woven raffia fiber enhanced by geometric designs executed in linear embroidery in flat-stitch and cut-pile stitching, the latter creating surfaces resembling velvet.
The textiles of the Kuba kingdom influenced numerous internationally renowned artists of the 20th century such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse—Matisse kept a large collection on display in his studio.
Broderie anglaise is a whitework needlework technique combining features of embroidery, cutwork and needle lace that became associated with England, due to its popularity there in the 19th century.
Broderie anglaise is characterized by patterns composed of round or oval holes, called eyelets, which are cut out of the fabric, then bound with overcast or buttonhole stitches. The patterns, often depicting flowers, leaves, vines, or stems, are further delineated by simple embroidery stitches made on the surrounding material. Later broderie anglaise also featured small patterns worked in satin stitch.
The traditional Li textile techniques by women of the Li ethnic group on the island of Hainan, China, were recognized by Unesco in 2009 as in Need of Urgent Safeguarding on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Spinning, dyeing, weaving and embroidering are employed to make cotton, hemp and other fibres into clothing and other daily necessities. The techniques involved, including warp ikat, double-face embroidery, and single-face jacquard weaving, are passed down from mothers to daughters from early childhood through verbal instruction and personal demonstration. Li women design the textile patterns using only their imagination and knowledge of traditional styles. In the absence of a written language, these patterns record the history and legends of Li culture as well as aspects of worship, taboos, beliefs, traditions and folkways. The patterns also distinguish the five major spoken dialects of Hainan Island.
Huipil is the most common traditional garment worn by indigenous women from central Mexico to Central America.
It is a loose-fitting tunic, generally made from two or three rectangular pieces of fabric which are then joined together with stitching, ribbons or fabric strips, with an opening for the head and, if the sides are sewn, openings for the arms. Traditional huipils, especially ceremonial ones, are usually made with fabric woven on a backstrap loom and are heavily decorated with designs woven into the fabric, embroidery, ribbons, lace and more. However, some huipils are also made from commercial fabric.
Lengths of the huipil can vary from a short blouse-like garment or long enough to reach the floor. The style of traditional huipils generally indicates the ethnicity and community of the wearer as each have their own methods of creating the fabric and decorations. Some huipils have intricate and meaningful designs. Ceremonial huipils are the most elaborate and are reserved for weddings, burials, women of high rank and even to dress the statues of saints.
Rafoogari is an art of darning in India and neighbouring countries of the subcontinent where this art of healing the cloth is used for emotional and historical reasons too. Though is a social shame associated with wearing restored clothes but this art has been used by highly skilled “rafoogars” to restore some priceless clothes such as Pashmina shawl, silks, woolen clothes and even fine cotton, etc. Kashmiris are considered the best rafoogars, who have imparted their knowledge to the artists all over India. Rafoogars still exist across India.
Darning is a sewing technique for repairing holes or worn areas in fabric or knitting using needle and thread alone. It is often done by hand, but it is also possible to darn with a sewing machine. Hand darning employs the darning stitch, a simple running stitch in which the thread is “woven” in rows along the grain of the fabric, with the stitcher reversing direction at the end of each row, and then filling in the framework thus created, as if weaving. Darning is a traditional method for repairing fabric damage or holes that do not run along a seam, and where patching is impractical or would create discomfort for the wearer, such as on the heel of a sock.
Zardozi is an intricate embroidery technique made with metallic threads and embellishments. Initially it was made with real silver and gold, today also gold- and silver plated copper thread is used. It is practised in Iran, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Central Asia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Lucknow Zardozi has a Geographical Indication since 2013.
Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Before elastic, smocking was commonly used in cuffs, bodices, and necklines in garments where buttons were undesirable.
Smocking developed in England and has been practised since the Middle Ages and is unusual among embroidery methods in that it was often worn by laborers. Other major embroidery styles are purely decorative and represented status symbols. Smocking requires lightweight fabric with a stable weave that gathers well. Cotton and silk are typical fiber choices, often in lawn or voile.
Zmijanje embroidery is an embroidery technique practised in the Zmijanje villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main characteristic is the use of a deep blue thread, vegetable dyed, to embroider improvised geometrical shapes. The blue thread on white background distinguishes it from other types of embroidery in the region, that mostly employ more different colours of the thread.
Otomi embroidery is a traditional technique from the Otomi people living on the central plateau of Mexico. Stylized figurative elements are arranged in a mostly symmetric form. According to legends, the animals depicted stem from cave paintings in the area, and often figures from amate paper cut outs made by local healers, however the style has influences of Spanish and aztec aesthetics as well.
Following a severe drought in the area in the 1960s, a simplified form of the craft, called Tenango, was developed to bring new sources of income to the region.
Suzani is a type of embroidered and decorative tribal textile made in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.
Suzani is from the Persian سوزن, Suzan, which means needle. The art of making such textiles in Iran is called سوزندوزی Suzandozi (needlework).
Suzanis usually have a cotton (sometimes silk) fabric base, which is embroidered in silk or cotton thread. Chain, satin, and buttonhole stitches are the primary stitches used. There is also extensive use of couching, in which decorative thread laid on the fabric as a raised line is stitched in place with a second thread. Suzanis are often made in two or more pieces, that are then stitched together.
Popular design motifs include sun and moon disks, flowers (especially tulips, carnations, and irises), leaves and vines, fruits (especially pomegranates), and occasional fish and birds.
Major types of Suzani embroidery
Khodjent Suzani (Khodjent, Tajikistan)
Nurata Suzani, made in the town of Nurata in Uzbekistan.
Sashiko (刺し子?, literally “little stabs”) is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan. Traditional sashiko was used to reinforce points of wear, or to repair worn places or tears with patches. Today this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives sashiko its distinctive appearance, though decorative items sometimes use red thread.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.