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24 Sep

Applications and uses of Embroidery: Past vs. Present

Applications and uses of Embroidery: Past vs. Present

The word embroidery originates from the French word broderie, which means embellishment. Recorded history, paintings and sculptures depicting various civilizations show how people wore embroidered clothing with embellishments like precious stones and pearls.

Apart from decorative clothing, this art flourished as the means to demonstrate power and royalty in Europe around the year 1000. Since then, richly-embroidered garments and ornaments started being used for home furnishing in the form of wall hangings and tablecloths.

It also became a folk art in many parts of the world—E.g. Hardanger from Norway and Nakshi Kantha from Bangladesh and West Bengal.

Nowadays, this decorative craft is used almost the same as before in fashion clothing, home décor, artwork and accessories. The craft has evolved in terms of materials, techniques and accessibility. The principal difference being the method of production, most of the contemporary needlework is stitched with computerized machines and embroidery digitizing software. 

Embroidery Software

Today, automation is inevitable for every industry and the machine embroidery is doing great on that front. All the commercial embroidery machines now allow you to sew designs automatically. You only need to digitize your embroidery using embroidery software provided by the manufacturers.

EmbroideryStudio e4 by Wilcom and TAJIMA DG16 by Pulse are two of the latest embroidery software from leading companies in the industry. Embroidery software contains numerous editing, designing tools and a workspace to create custom embroidery designs. Using this software, you can add to your design a lot of predefined shapes, monograms, letters of different languages in various fonts and other elements. The advanced software also offers auto-digitizing features for faster digitizing.

Machine Embroidery

Computer-controlled sewing machines are used commercially for the mass production of embroidered goods. Machine embroidery can be seen on all sorts of apparel items, home furnishing products, accessories and any textile material that can be reinforced.

Usually, it is used to decorate caps, coats, dresses, shirts, denim and golf shirts. Businesses largely use custom embroidery to add monograms and logos on business shirts, jackets, gifts and team apparel.

Computerized machines also mimic the handwork of the past on home décor items such as curtains, pillow covers, quilts, table linens, etc. But that’s not all. Embroidery digitizing technique and specifically engineered machines have made it easy to stitch designs on various materials. So, it is also used to decorate all kinds of fashion accessories, including shoes, purses, earrings, bandana, shawls, laptop sleeves, neckpieces, etc.

Embroidery as an Art

Embroidery artists use their needles in diverse and complex ways to investigate a variety of concerns, exploring themes including cultural history, memory and pop culture.

Examples – Artist Sophia Narrett converts history paintings, meticulously rendering suburban architecture, blooming gardens and the human body in the thread. While another artist Kent Henricksen combines his paintings with layers of embroidery.

Today, these customized and symbolic embroidery artworks are gaining presence in museums and galleries.


One of the main uses of embroidery is to decorate clothing. However, the invention of embroidery machines has created great opportunities for the artisans and designers to conveniently experiment and use it on different materials.

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