An umbrella term covering the decoration of fabric with surface needlework in any style and manner. Across cultures, class and generations globally, every tribe and community has their own typical embroidery technique and style, distinguishing one village from another, and to reveal status…

* Hand work takes time and has always been expensive, however, as anyone can achieve some level of stitch work if they wish to, embroidered decoration is a great leveller-  anyone can work some sort of stitching, perhaps not necessarily at couture level but …

* In prisons and other types of forced confinement, needlework is used to calm the soul and to encourage creativity and freethinking, for creative work endorses self worth and brings hope.

* Museums all over the world display examples of the most exquisite commissioned works from highly skilled embroiderers, who have access to the very best silk, colours, silver threads and ribbons; and alongside these there is often the work of peasant artisan embroiderers, who have only used local dyes and materials woven and spun within metres of their own homes–to my eye no less beautiful to their luxury counterparts.

* Folk art embroideries, tribal art is seen across the world in every community, motifs and stitch work for identity and celebration.

* Machine embroidery over metres of fabric for curtaining is very popular at the moment, but however good it looks. It lacks in life, having none of the personality that makes all hand embroidery individual, striking and beautiful – it’s far less uninteresting that the real thing where there are errors, an odd colour here or there.  Somehow it denies the essence of embroidery–far better to have a small piece of the real thing than something that is the same as the next person, supplied en masse, and very expensive.

* Indeed, part of sustainability involves supporting the skills of global craftsmen, who have come to rely on the export market. It is perfectly possible to buy the most beautiful hand worked embroidered materials at a relatively low cost, thus investing in hundreds of thousands of people with precious traditional and typical craftsmanship, and supporting them out of shocking poverty.

*For small works such a bedlinen, beautiful hand embroidered finishes can be bought from specialist workshops such as Porthault in Paris and Antico Setefico in Florence.

* Many of our projects require a certain level of embroidery, but some require more advanced skills and take more time–this is no chore, rather the perfect way to spend some spirit reviving winter evenings.

See monogramme, whitework, blackwork, drawn thread work, feather stitch, french knots, stump work, crewel, ari, uzbek, cross stitch, beading, Italian quilting, Sabina Fay Braxton, Lessage


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