Embroidery - Classification

Classification

Embroidery can be classified according to whether the design is stitched on top of or through the foundation fabric, and by the relationship of stitch placement to the fabric.

In free embroidery, designs are applied without regard to the weave of the underlying fabric. Examples include crewel and traditional Chinese and Japanese embroidery.

Counted-thread embroidery patterns are created by making stitches over a predetermined number of threads in the foundation fabric. Counted-thread embroidery is more easily worked on an even-weave foundation fabric such as embroidery canvas, aida cloth, or specially woven cotton and linen fabrics although non-evenweave linen is used as well. Examples include needlepoint and some forms of blackwork embroidery.

In canvas work threads are stitched through a fabric mesh to create a dense pattern that completely covers the foundation fabric. Traditional canvas work such as bargello is a counted-thread technique. Since the 19th century, printed and hand painted canvases where the painted or printed image serves as color-guide have eliminated the need for counting threads. These are particularly suited to pictorial rather than geometric designs deriving from the Berlin wool work craze of the early 19th century.

In drawn thread work and cutwork, the foundation fabric is deformed or cut away to create holes that are then embellished with embroidery, often with thread in the same color as the foundation fabric. These techniques are the progenitors of needlelace. When created in white thread on white linen or cotton, this work is collectively referred to as whitework.

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