Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Art of Embroidery

by Nicole Lindquist

We here at Allem Studio love to play with different techniques and colors, and we take our inspiration from a wide range of sources. Today we're highlighting one of our favorite decorating techniques: embroidery!

There are so many different types of embroidery from simple counted cross stitch to fancy silk ribbon embroidery to incredibly imaginative and quirky "crazy quilting." There are so many creative possibilities to explore with embroidery that the design possibilities are endless. So without further ado here are a few fun facts on a small selection of embroidery types.


CC Image "Victoria and Albert - Crewel Pink" by hottholler on Flickr

CC Image "Victoria and Albert - Crewel Horses" by hottholler on Flickr

CC Image "Crewel Fabric" by inger maaike on Flickr

CC Image "Crewel Sachet" by Robyn Vines Smith on Flickr

Don't be fooled by its not-so-friendly sounding name, crewel is an incredibly popular form of embroidery. This centuries old technique utilizes a variety of stitches and is distinguished from other forms of embroidery by its traditional use of wool threads. In fact, sticklers will tell you that unless the thread used is wool then it's not crewel embroidery at all, but opinions seem to be wavering on that point.


17th Century Embroidered Curtain Motif

Jacobean Embroidery Terra Firma

Jacobean Embroidered Coat

Jacobean is an embroidery design style rather than a technique. This type of embroidery can be done using a variety of different stitches and thread types; what is important in distinguishing Jacobean embroidery from other types is the motif of the embroidered piece. Typically the subject matter of Jacobean embroidery is nature-based, plants, elaborately designed flowers, birds, insects, and whimsical animals are often featured. This type of embroidery dates all the way back to the beginning of the 17th century during the reign of King James I of England when the style first ascended to popularity.


CC Image "Embroidery on Festival Cart" by Ryan McBride on Flickr

The final type of embroidery we want to highlight today is goldwork. Well over a millennium old, this is doubtlessly the most opulent type of embroidery there is. The threads are traditionally made out of actual metal, though not just gold, as the technique's name would suggest, but silver and copper as well. As the pictures above clearly show, the final product is rather stunning.

Embroidery is both versatile and accessible. Anybody can learn to embroider with a little bit of guidance and it can be used to beautify everything from greeting cards to clothes to pillows and curtains. This is why we love the art of embroidery and take so much inspiration from it.

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