Different Types of Embroidery Techniques
Lecturer, Dept. of Fashion Design
KCC Women’s College (Affiliated by Khulna University)
Embroidery can be applied before or after the construction of a garment and concentrated in specific areas or as part of an overall design. It can be used as an embellishment on the surface of the cloth to enhance the look of the fabric or it can be used in a way that makes it integral to the function of the garment, rather than simply as a decorative addition. For example, a buttonhole can be created with interesting stitch work and the shape of a simple garment can change through the application of smocking. Embroidery techniques can be used as an artistic medium d to embellish items of beauty and practical use. The wide variety of embroidery stitch techniques can be used in traditional and contemporary designs adding detail and focus.
Contemporary embroidery techniques is based on traditional techniques. The three basic embroidery stitches are flat, knotted and linked.
Types of Embroidery Techniques:
Blackwork became popular in England in the 1500s perhaps due to its popularity with Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s wife. It usually features black stitches on a pale background. The stitches are flat and regular in nature creating a graphic effect. Double-running stitch, Holbein stitch and back stitch are usually used.
An Italian style of embroidery where the background of a fabric is worked and filled in with stitches leaving the design motif unworked and in the negative. Originally double-running stitch, Holbein and cross-stitch were used.
Bargello or Florentine work:
Working on a canvas, straight vertical stitches are placed in a zigzag design and the colours of the rows of zigzag are changed to create a pattern.
This is an embroidery style (originally from Germany), where bright coloured wool in tent or cross-stitch is worked on canvas.
Canvas work or needlepoint:
This is sometimes called tapestry work as the finished stitched piece looks similar to a woven tapestry. The canvas is usually woven using a single- or double- (Penelope canvas) thread construction. Needlepoint work uses a variety of embroidery stitches, but they must be worked closely together so that the canvas is eventually covered and cannot be seen. This is best achieved on an even-weave fabric with the same number of threads in warp and weft, as threads can then be counted and the stitches placed regularly and precisely.
Ornamental needlework, typically using crewel yarn, which is wool of special worsted yarn of two twisted strands.
Open work gives the appearance of lace yet is worked on fabric and holes are created through cutting and/or stitch. Examples of open work include pulled thread work, withdrawn thread work, cutwork or eyelet lace.
Warp or weft threads are pulled out of the cloth and the remaining threads are held back with embroidery stitches. The spaces are decorated with stitch work and needlework, which also serves to strengthen the open structure s. John Ruskin introduced the technique to linen. workers in the English Lake District and Ruskin Lace has been practiced since the 1880s.
Pulled thread work produces a stronger fabric as no threads are taken away. The lace effect is created through stitches pulling the warp or weft away from the normal weave structure. For the best effect the fabric is loosely woven and the stitches that hold the warp and weft back are of a fine thread so that they don’t show. The intricate German derivative of the technique is known as Dresden work.
This is a variation of drawn thread work. Threads are drawn from the fabric and the remaining warp or weft threads are grouped and woven together.
The open work techniques just discussed are used in white work, but the base cloth and thread stitch are traditionally white. Typical white work also includes broderie ang laise, Richelieu, Dresden and Reticella.
This features rhythmic and repetitive eyelet patterns, where fabric has been cut awaand the edges are prevented from fraying by stitches. From 1870 it was produced on a greater scale as it could be done by machine.
This is French embroidery. Cardinal Richelieu was the principal minister for Louis XIII. He wanted France to be self-sufficient and therefore welcomed Italian lace makers to France to teach their skill. Richelieu cutwork is a development of Venetian lace. Designs feature an organic or floral pattern, with the edges of cut-away shapes defined by stitch, and within the shapes are buttonhole bars.
This originated in the town of Mountmellick in Ireland during the 19th century. A soft matt white cotton thread is stitched on to a closely woven white fabric in bold organic designs. Most samples are finished with a knitted fringe.
Stitches are worked on the reverse side of a sheer fabric, usually herringbone or double backstitch. When the fabric is turned over to the right side, shadowy shapes can be seen.
Appliqué in textiles means to stitch one piece of fabric on to another for decorative effect. Pieces of fabric can be stitched on top of a base cloth or a reverse appliqué technique can be applied where the top fabric is cut away to form a pattern and reveal the fabric beneath. Interesting intricate designs can be created using many layers of cloth. Fabrics that do not fray are often good for appliqué work. Fabric motifs, such as badges, can be beaded or embroidered first and then appliquéd on to the garment with stitches.
Smocking has a practical as well as decorative function, as it is used to gather in fullness in a garment. Traditionally a garment that featured smocking was called a smock and was worn by agricultural workers in the 19th century. The stitches and motifs used in the smocking related to the trade of the workers.
Horizontal rows of dots are marked on the fabric and running tacking stitches placed at these points.These stitches are then drawn together forming vertical pleats in the fabric. The pleats are then stitched permanently together to create the smocking and the original tacking stitches are taken away. Smocking should be placed parallel to the direction of the warp and weft to avoid distorting the fabric.
The technique of joining together pieces of fabric to make another fabric creates a patchwork; the pieces can be sewn randomly or in a geometric pattern. The choice of fabric and placement of pieces to form the pattern creates the design
- ***English patchwork
Paper pieces are used as templates to cut fabric shapes; the shapes are cut slightly larger than the template. This extra piece of fabric around the template is then folded over and tacked down. These fabric paper pieces are then sewn together at their edges and the tacking stitches and paper taken away.
- ***American patchwork
Fabric pieces are cut using a template, but the template is then removed. The fabric pieces are subsequently sewn together with a small running stitch. A fabric that allows for a crisp fold works best for patchwork, for example, finely woven cotton.
Layers of fabric are stitched together to form a heavier quilted fabric. Wadding of cotton, wool, horsehair or feathers can be put between the layers to make a warmer or more decoratively raised fabric.
- ***English quilting
Two layers of fabric are stitched together with wadding placed in between.
- ***Italian corded quilting
Traditional Italian quilting designs are based upon pairs of parallel lines through which cord or wool is threaded to make a raised pattern.
- ***Trapunto quilting
Like corded quilting, Trapunto is padded after the stitching is complete leaving a design that stands out in relief. Enclosed stitched shapes are slit in the back of the fabric and padded from behind, the slit is then sewn up.
Many of the embroidery stitches and techniques discussed already can be worked on domestic or industrial embroidery machines. The machines can be used creatively and flexibly to produce a wide range of effects and techniques, from controlled to more freestyle work. Domestic embroidery machines allow the user to move the fabric under the needle in order to create free-flowing designs. Most machines also have the ability to produce automated patterns at the press of a button. As with hand embroidery, the techniques can vary in accordance with the choice of thread and fabric. More complicated embroidery designs can be created on the computer and then downloaded for use on digital embroidery machines. Machines can have single or multi heads to feed many threads simultaneously. Embroidery machines include Cornelli, Irish, tufting, loop-pile cut machines and Schiffli machines.
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