Embroidery Styles

A modern example of free style embroidery. A modern example of free style embroidery.

Defining and cataloguing a piece of embroidery is always subjective and often depends on the reason why someone (artist, collector, producer, seller, user) is trying to define a particular object. For the purpose of this encyclopaedia it was regarded as necessary to at least attempt to present various definitions of embroidery styles and techniques that can be found throughout the world.

A piece of embroidery, for example, may be defined by its general appearance (Berlin wool work), technique (metal thread embroidery), the main thread type or ground material (canvas embroidery), or where it came from (Chinese embroidery, Romanian embroidery).

But it is also possible to define embroidery according to the relationship between the stitch, the thread and the ground material. The two main English terms used to describe embroidery in this manner are free style embroidery (free embroidery) and counted thread embroidery. The term ‘free style embroidery’ is often used to describe an embroidery technique whereby the design is created without regard to the weave or structure of the ground cloth. The design may be drawn on the ground material and then stitched. Examples of free style embroidery can be found in many parts of the world. This form of work is sometimes called surface embroidery, especially in North America, but this term is vague.

In contrast, counted thread embroidery is where the patterns are created by making stitches over a pre-determined number of (warp and/or weft) threads in the ground cloth. There are many forms of counted thread embroidery, which can be found throughout the world.

See also the TRC Needles entry with a brief history of hand embroidery.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 9th July 2016).


Last modified on Saturday, 20 May 2017 18:49