Embroidered Fashion: A Guide To Its History, Trends, And More

Embroidered Fashion: A Guide To Its History, Trends, And More

The sophistication and refinement of embroidery have been widely used throughout history. Its presence has been depicted in various ways. Aside from fashion, it played a massive part in identifying one’s status, culture, religion, and power.

What Is Embroidery?

Embroidery is the fancy art of decorating a piece of fabric using a needle and thread. The materials can be worn as clothing, hung as a tapestry, or used as a robe to display power and influence. Different embroidery designs have been produced in different parts of the world, each distinct and representing a valuable piece of history.

Today, technology has elevated embroidery, which can now be seen in different mediums. It also can be used to increase brand identity, boost customer loyalty, or help with brand recognition, just like the services that Shop Strange offers. They can do embroidery on clothing like shirts, jackets, and bottoms and accessories like caps, towels, robes, and aprons.

Embroidery And Fashion

Used on clothing, embroidery adds richness, luxurious texture, and dimension. It has been used extensively to depict different sentiments and identify a person’s social status throughout history. In particular, the craft uses precious yarns and fine metals like gold and silver to symbolize power and authority.

The History Of Embroidery

Embroidery has been a famous crafting technique in different regions worldwide. Each contributed to the modern-day’s version of embroidering designs. Some of these historical contributions have come from the following:

  • Scythians
    Before the modern age of embroidery fashion, the Scythians were among the first ones to practice this crafting technique. Their surviving historical artifacts of embroidery and embroidered products are dated between the fifth and third centuries BCE.
  • Egyptians
    One compelling discovery of embroidery’s influence in history was observed during the excavation of the ancient tomb of Tutankhamun (also known as Tutankhamen and Tutankhaten), the 14th-century BC Egyptian pharaoh. King Tutankhamun became known to the modern world after his tomb was excavated and discovered to be almost entirely intact, containing ancient treasures and artifacts that gave a glimpse into the life of ancient royalty. Among the treasures found were pieces of garments embellished with decorative needlework. There were oversized tunics, aprons, and caps. They showed the colorful, elegant, and luxurious taste of the ancient king who lived an interesting life.
  • Greeks
    Quilted suits with embroidery are depicted in Greek vase paintings. Greeks dressed in embroidered garments are also illustrated on these vases from the seventh and sixth centuries BCE.
  • Chinese
    The Zhou Dynasty produced the first examples of Chinese embroidery (1027–221 BC). Silk was used in ancient Chinese embroidery because they had already mastered spinning from silkworms. During the Han Dynasty, embroidery was popular throughout China (206 BC–220 AD). Four different embroidery schools or styles emerged: Shu embroidery, Xiang embroidery, Su embroidery, and Yue embroidery. Miao embroidery is an embroidery style from a minority group. Each would only reach its pinnacle once the Silk Road trade flourished when it established a market for Chinese goods.
  • Indians
    Indians are known worldwide for their exquisite craftsmanship. They created hand-spun and hand-woven textiles, preserved and displayed in many well-known Indian and western museums. Embroidery has been evident in India since the 16th century. The country’s diverse population and cultural practices are why there are many types of craft present there. They’ve long been embellishing clothing with different types of stitches and traditional colors to make it more beautiful and alluring.
  • English
    The Bayeux Tapestry from the 11th century is among the oldest embroideries done in England. Rich embroidery in metal thread and silk was produced in the expert workshops of Medieval England for both clerical and secular purposes.The formal sampler, which served as a record of a stitcher’s abilities, began to gain popularity at the end of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Raised work or stumpwork, a visual style with separate and padded elements, and crewel work, which featured exotic leaf motifs in wool yarn, were trends of the mid-17th century.

Other Contributors

Many other cultures in different parts of the world contributed to embroideries, such as the Dutch East Indies, Middle Easterners, Northern Europeans, North Americans, Indians of Central America, and Africans. All of their work and styles are now reflected in modern embroideries.

Embroidered Fashion: A Guide To Its History, Trends, And More

Some Trends and Techniques Used In Embroidery

In embroidery, there are many techniques that one can use to create a design depending on the materials and the end product they wish to achieve. In the early ages, all embroidery was done by hand. Now, it can be done through modern, machine-based methods. The basic techniques include the following:

  • Crewel Work
    Crewel is a two-ply worsted wool yarn used to embroider designs on a twill foundation. This foundation can be a linen warp, cotton weft, pure linen, or cotton cloth. Dating back to the 17th century, crewel work is inspired by source books of embroidery patterns and ornaments initially published in Europe in the 16th century. An influencing factor for crewel work is ‘palampores’ or hand-painted, stenciled cotton fabrics from India. Embroidered Chinese fabrics also served as design motifs.
  • Cross-Stitch Embroidery
    Cross-stitch is a double stitch that crosses the intersections of the fabric’s horizontal and vertical threads diagonally. This embroidery technique is done on canvas or an evenly woven fabric. At least as far back as the Middle Ages, canvas work was known as ‘opus pulvinarium,’ translating to ‘cushion work.’ It has a specific discipline and squaring-off of forms because it’s based on regular squares. Therefore, leaves, petals, and the like are schematic rather than realistic.
  • Quilting
    Two layers of fabric are sewn and stitched together during quilting. When the product is used as clothing, insulation is provided by an interior layer of wool, cotton, or another filling in between the two fabrics.
    The technique of quilting has been used for garments for a long time in many parts of the world. Some of the earliest quilt work was done in China, the Middle East, and regions of Africa. The early 19th century saw distinctive quilting features such as appliqué (fabric patches sewn on fabric foundations) become more affordable and common.
  • Featherwork
    This technique is distinct from others, as it uses ornamental feathers decoratively. Hawaii, New Zealand, Peru, and Mesoamerica used advanced techniques of featherwork, while Victorian England and American Indians had their distinct styles of craft.
    People decorated headdresses, cloaks, and other ceremonial garments with brightly colored feathers from different bird types. Ostrich feathers, marabou stork feathers, heron aigrettes, and feathers from various species of hummingbird, pheasant, pigeon, peacock, guinea fowl, and black rooster are popular. At the same time, they applied featherwork—made of the more commonly found feather types—to blankets and mats.

The Evolution Of Machine Embroidery

The intricate art of embroidery was traditionally done by hand by mostly female workers. In the past, it was even one of the requirements for women before marriage, as it highlights patience, attentiveness, daintiness, and submission. From handmade embroidery, this creative form of needlework has been transformed by technology. Today, you can see embroidery done by machines, some of which can produce intricate designs commonly made by hand.

In 1828, Joshua Heilmann invented the first hand-embroidery machine. It could imitate the appearance of hand stitches. The device has a frame to hold the fabric and a needle assembly. When the machine is operated, the frame holding the fabric would move horizontally and vertically and the needles would pass through the material to create the intended designs.

Modern-Day Embroidery

Nowadays, the embroideries sold on the market are variations of these techniques or modifications of those used in the early ages. Embroidery is an old process that continues to flourish in our times, with its delicateness and quality intact.

High-end luxury fashion brands today use embroidery on their fine pieces that command high prices. Different fashion houses across the world also employ experienced needleworkers—as opposed to doing everything by machine—because they believe each piece should have its unique design and touch.

Wedding Gowns And Embroidery

One of the most common uses of embroidery today is on wedding gowns . Pearls, lace, and beaded accents are embroidered on luxurious fabrics like silk, charmeuse, taffeta, chiffon, and crepe. Many brides prefer this design because it adds an elegant detail that will make the wedding dress more special and unique.


Embroidery traces its roots to a long line of historical advancements, including those in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Several embroidery techniques are now used, including crewel work, needlepoint, quilting, and featherwork. The continuous exchange of art and culture has contributed to the distribution and popularization of these embroidery techniques.

Apart from everything mentioned, embroidery is an art of self-expression. It’s a creative way to share thoughts and sentiments. Many people used this craft when the Internet was yet to be conceived to make their statements known.

The evolution of embroidery—how it has defined history and how alive it is today—is a testament to its staying power. Many businesses today would benefit from its effectiveness in making a mark.


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