The cheongsam is regarded as the ‘standard’ dress for Chinese women from the 1930's until the 1960's. During this time it was popular in China’s main cities such as Shanghai as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan and among the Chinese diaspora throughout the world. They were often embroidered, either by hand or with a machine. There have been attempts to make the cheongsam into the national dress of China.

Embroidery has been popular in China for thousands of years. It is generally called xiuhua or zhahua ('making decorations with a needle'; xiu referring to embroidery itself). Most of the Chinese embroideries are made of silk. Documents from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) refer to embroidered robes. In the Shujing history book, which is even older, embroidery is also being mentioned.

For hundreds of years, mainland Chinese ateliers have been making hand worked embroidery for international markets. These forms are often worked in Chinese or Chinese related styles. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many 'Chinese' pieces sold in Indonesia, for example, were intended for Dutch customers. Chinese shawls were also embroidered for the Moroccan, Palestinian and Spanish markets.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a Daoist gown from China, dating to the seventeenth century. It is made of silk satin, and decorated with silk and gold threads. The gown is square in shape, without sleeves, and with a hole for the head.

Some extant Early Chinese embroidery from Dunhuang, western China, is housed in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (both in London). The Dunhuang embroideries derive from excavations and clearings in the early twentieth century under the direction of Sir Aurel Stein (1862-1943). They date from the second half of the first millennium AD.

The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin holds a pair of embroidered boots from Yarkand, Xinjiang, in the western parts of China. The boots were collected by the British explorer Robert Barkley Shaw in c. 1869. The embroidery is worked with metal thread and cotton thread. Some of the decoration is worked with chain stitch. The boots measure 40 x 24 cm.

The collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London includes an embroidered thangka that probably derives from Inner Mongolia and dates to the period c. 1780-1850. The thangka has a silk ground material and embroidery worked with silk thread. There are some traces of painting.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London holds a woman's jacket (71 cm from collar to hem), made of silk, and embroidered with very brightly coloured silk threads using satin stitch. The jacket was made in China, obviously for a Western market.

Gu embroidery is a style of Chinese decorative needlework that originated during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was very popular well into the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The embroidery is worked with fine floss silk thread in various colours on a silk background.

Han Chinese women's foot binding is a traditional form of foot manipulation associated with China, and with the Han Chinese in particular. The aim of the footbinding was to create a very small foot by manipulating and if necessary breaking the bones in a young girl’s feet. A feature of foot binding was the wearing of very small shoes (the 'lotus shoes') that were often embroidered, in order to emphasise the smallness of the wearer’s feet.

The Liaoning Provincial Museum (Chinese: trad. 遼寧省博物館, simp. 辽宁省博物馆, Liáoníngshěng Bówùguǎn) is located in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China. It focuses on history and art. It was established under another name in 1949, and received its present appellation in 1959. It moved into its present new premises in 2003.

The soles of lotus shoes (small shoes for bound feet of Chinese women) were sometimes made of layered cotton (rather than wood).

For many centuries, Han Chinese women used to bind their feet and put them into tiny shoes, generally called lotus shoes. There were various types of lotus shoes, such as day-time shoes and boots, wedding or bridal shoes, sleeping or night socks, separate heels, bad weather forms, gift shoes, mourning shoes, as well as funeral shoes.

'Painting with Threads: Chinese Tapestry and Embroidery, 12th–19th Century' was the title of a small exhibition (called installation in American parlance) displaying a small selection from the Museum holdings of Chinese tapestries and embroideries. The exhibition ran from late 2014 to the summer of 2015. 

A pair of nineteenth century lotus shoes is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. They are made of silk, cotton and wood. The shoes show traces of wear, and were therefore probably used, rather than made for the tourist market. The shoes are 16 cm long, 5 cm wide and 8 cm high and were probably worn by a bride.

The Textile Research Centre, Leiden, the Netherlands, houses a paper template (30 x 32 cm) for embroidery, from among the Miao ethnic minority in southern China. The template dates to the early twenty-first century.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a sari with a silk ground material in black. The sari (115 x 546 cm) is decorated with silk thread embroidery in white, magenta and yellow, using satin stitch and stem stitch.

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