Here is a wee summary of my talk for Botanica Yarn Festival on Saturday 1st May!
What is embroidery?
According to Collins Dictionary, embroidery is:
- decorative needlework usually on cloth or canvas; or
- the act of adding imaginary details to a story.
I like to think that it’s a bit of both: using stitches to tell a story.
Types of embroidery
First, there are counted thread techniques where stitches are a consistent size such as cross stitch (onto even-weave fabric e.g. binca cloth), or blackwork, or drawn thread work. Then, there is freestyle embroidery which follows a particular design and stitches, and includes crewelwork (using wool on fabric), embroidered appliqué (stitching a fabric shape onto another fabric), patchwork (joining two fabrics together), and more! Thirdly, there is canvas work which has consistent sized stitches covering the whole canvas.
There are many other techniques from different cultures such as sashiko (Japanese decorative running stitches to reinforce fabric) or Chinese silk embroidery or Kogin (a Japanese counted thread technique).
I love freestyle techniques, taking a variety of yarns or threads and a variety of different stitch types to decorate a fabric to tell a story!
Materials to use for embroidering
Crewel – sharp & slender, useful for stitches that split your yarn, e.g. fill stitches
Chenille – sharp points with a larger eye than crewel and wider, useful for most stitches
Tapestry – wide eye and blunt points, thus good for weaving stitches
Darning – for repair work usually on wool fabrics to create a woven-like patch
Sashiko – long Japanese needles to gather fabric onto needle
Yarns & Threads
Traditionally, wool, cotton, linen, silk or metallic threads but you can use anything!
Traditionally linen, canvas or silk but you can use knitted or woven wool, denim or anything else!
A stitch threader to help thread a small-eyed needle
Embroidery hoops to keep fabric stretched and secure
My two favourite books are:
“Mending Life” by Nina and Sonya Montenegro, Sasquatch Books; and
“The Embroidery Stitch Bible” by Betty Barnden, Search Press
Beyond Measure - Haberdashery, tools & gifts for makers
Linladan - Linen embroidery threads
Be Inspired Fibres - Needles, hoops and other sundry items
Fabric Focus - Sewing supplies
Places to Learn in Person
Instagram Accounts to Follow