Embroidery is the art of decorating fabric or other materials by stitching designs using thread or yarn and a needle. Sometimes, other materials such as metal strips, precious and semi-precious stones, and sequins are used to add variety and flavor to this decorative stitching technique.
The use of embroidery to decorate clothes has been around since man began to wear clothes-a staggering 170,000 years ago! A method of decorating and embellishing clothing, embroidered designs came about as a result of hard work, care, and a keen artistic eye. Embroidery as an art form has origins that can be traced as far back as the Iron Age.
Embroidered clothing was also considered to be a symbol of wealth. Those with embroidered clothing were seen as more sophisticated and cultured. While the masses had traditional or handmade clothing, those of higher social status had ornate, beautiful embroidered clothing.
Furthermore, many scenes from history are often found embroidered onto fabric. For instance, the Bayeux Tapestry, arguably the most famous example of historical embroidery, is a piece of embroidered cloth over 200 feet long depicting the successes of William the Conqueror in establishing modern England as we know it. The piece is over 500 years old, and made of linen with woolen yarns.
Embroidery as an art form has enhanced our civilization, making it more aware of the beauty that can be created with a needle and a thread. Intricate designs and brilliantly colored patterns have infused a beauty of their own onto fabrics, adding to their value and worth.
Today, machine embroidery has grown by leaps and bounds; computers have added another twist into this sewing technique, making the process easier for mass production of embroidered designs. Nowadays, there are even self-embroidering machines, machines which can embroider designs for you. Some specially designed machines can even read a computerized design and stitch it for you! Groundbreaking changes in the technology have paved the way to make embroidery an art that is easier, more accessible, and more satisfying.