General embroidery

General embroidery

Examples of hand embroidery have been found at various archaeological excavations dating back to at least the second millennium BC, although the art of embroidery probably goes back much further. One of the oldest surviving groups of embroideries comes from the tomb of the famous Egyptian pharaoh, Tutankhamun (died c. 1323 BC).

Canvas embroidery is a form of counted thread embroidery, in which decorative stitches are worked on a canvas ground to create a dense pattern that covers much of the ground material. There are various forms of canvas work such as Berlin wool work and Florentine work.

There are two basic approaches to cataloguing a type of embroidery stitch. The first is based on how the stitch is technically made. This form of cataloguing often divides the stitches into family groups, such as interlaced stitches, threaded stitches, whipped stitches.

Chancay open weave darning is a form of darned embroidery, in which the open weave gauze ground is decorated using both thick and thin white cotton threads. The outlines of the individual motifs are worked into the gauze ground. They are made with a thick thread that is looped and/or worked around the ground mesh intersections using a long stem stitch.

Darned embroidery, also known as pattern darning, is a form of decorative needlework that uses running stitches (known as darning stitches) that go backwards and forwards in horizontal rows to create positive and/or negative designs.

In general, the English term ‘darning’ refers to a sewing technique used for repairing holes or worn areas of a fabric. The term darning, however, can also refer to several decorative needlework techniques that use darning stitches (in this context the term used for running stitches or straight stitches). The main types of darning in this context are:

Dotting is the embroidering of small dots on a muslin ground. It is a feature of late eighteenth century European whitework.

Embroidered net is a type of net that is decorated with hand or machine embroidery. Some authors state that the net has to be machine made (Earnshaw 1988:53), while other authors say that either a hand or machine net can be used.

Embroidery is a late medieval English term derived from the French term ‘embrouder.’ By the sixteenth century the term ‘embroidery’ in English started to refer to rich materials that were embellished with stitches or decorated with appliqué. This form of work was generally free style in appearance. The person (male or female) who carried out this type of work was generally called an embroiderer.

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.

Many people regard embroidery as a craft, rather than an ‘art’. Consequently, embroidery is not often discussed alongside established 'high art’ forms, such as painting or sculpture. Yet the degree of creativity, use of colour, subtle changes in design, emotional response to a particular setting or situation, all aspects attributed to ‘art’, can be found in embroidery.

Faggoting is a technique of sewing two hemmed pieces of textile together with (decorative) stitching, creating a zigzag pattern, but leaving a narrow gap in between. Also known as twisted insertion stitch. It was particularly used in the nineteenth century for ladies' underwear.

Fish scale embroidery is a technique that was popular in nineteenth century Britain. The fish scales usually came from carp, goldfish or perch, as their scales were regarded as the most iridescent. Fish scale embroidery was worked on silk, satin or velvet ground cloth and the scales were used to imitate flower petals, bird feathers and butterfly wings.

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