A Brief History of Embroidery: Evolution From Where To Now!

Do you also see embroidery as creative and imaginative work of art?

It will surely be a “yes” because there is no doubt that people are fascinated by it.

You can craft it on anything, whether it is a dress, a hat, or shoes.

If you are skillful enough in sewing and embroidery, then you can do it by hand. On the other hand, there are currently huge machines producing tons of embroidered cloth daily.

But did you ever wonder where this beautiful work of art originated from?

How, with just a needle, thread or yarn, can people come up with such unique designs?

If you are curious about it but never dug into the history of embroidery, then we are here to ease your concerns. Read below to get answers to all the questions that are arising now in your mind regarding the history of embroidery.

Origin Of Embroidery:

Embroidery is not a new concept; people have been doing it for many years, earlier than you know.

The French word broderie was used early before the word embroidery originated, which means embellishment.

People think that embroidery and other artwork from fiber and needles arise in the Orient and Middle East.

People predict that embroidery originates in 30,000 BC or in the era of Cro-Magnon. Because recently, an archaeologist found some really old fossils of hand-stitched and decorated clothes, shoes and hats that were full of designs and work. You can see some advanced examples of this as custom patches on different accessories.

Moreover, people also believe this technique originated from ancient Chinese between the 3rd and 5th centuries B.C., with some new examples.

Evolution Of Embroidery:

The evolution of embroidery came first in 3500 B.C. when the Chinese discovered silkworms and started making silk for various purposes.

In that era, some embroidery with silk tread, stone, and pearls were seen in China.

The people of Siberia also found some residue of embroidery, around 5000 and 6000 B.C. They provide a reference that they saw some animal hides decorated with drilled shells with designs.

Additionally, From 300 to 700 AD, People also found clothes with embroidery work in Europe.

Early Age Embroidery

As time changed, the embellishments started advancing too.

The development of unique designs embedded with precious stones also became a sign of status and luxury.

People also stated that back then, only the most privileged and higher-class people wore embroidered clothes in Persia, India, China, Japan, and Europe.

With the new techniques, the material for making embellishments also start changing.

In the 18th century, people did freehand stitches with complicated work, chiefly through wool and canvas thread.

But, it got more advanced with colourful printed patterns in the 19th century. And embroidered clothes become namely accessories again. Moreover, in the same century, girls are taught the skills like sewing and embroidery as a symbol of womanhood in England.

Industrial Era: Entrance Of Machines

Embroidery hit a significant shift when the industrial era arrived due to the Jacquard loom’s invention.

In 1801, Joseph Marie Jacquard came up with a solution. He invented a machine that could produce complex patterns of embroidery.

It not only eases humankind but also helps to craft intricate designs in a large amount consuming less time than handwork. People also use a punch card system to control and handle that machine.

After that, in 1863, a new machine was invented: the Schiffli embroidery machine. It was fully automatic and didn’t even need human effort.

Subsequently, machines overcome all the labour work, and embroidery becomes an artwork.

People used to express their creative side through embellishments and crafting and put their names or signs on that to represent them. Companies are currently doing this with the term “logo” and sticking logo patches on their products, representing their identity.

Additionally, people start capturing verses or sayings in the form of embroidery. It becomes a method of documenting things as well. And this evolved human thinking as well as creating a change in society.

People started embroidering various things after that, like tablecloths and towels, trading them and earning from them.

Modern Embroidery: Current Affairs

Modern Embroidery started with continuous advancement in the field of embroidery.

Today, companies produce tons of decorative fabrics in a few hours.

In the modern world, people use computerised systems to embellish different things. You just have to download a design on the computer. It will read it and start producing work according to that.

You can repeatedly make a similar design as well as do some variations in it. Or you can make changes with threads and fabric too. With the evolution, the materials also progressed and evolved into various types. Cotton, velvet, and denim are examples of fabrics, and metallic, nylon or quilting are examples of threads of current use.

Moreover, embroidery is not finite to just clothes. You can also decorate bags, shoes, hats or even your various accessories with it. From the monogram of the school uniform to the embroidered patches on a jacket, embroidery has evolved so much. You can name a thing, and people will devise a creative embellishment idea for it.

Gone are the days when people used it as a piece of status, and embroidery was limited to just riches. Now, People are running small businesses of customised embroidered things, and it become so common to see someone on the street wearing them.


From a fossil to a computerised design, embroidery has evolved so much.

Early, you could only discover some signs of it, but now you can see it in the abandoned amount.

It’s always a wonderful experience to learn the history of something. You not only discover new things but also live that time again. We are hopeful that our article has given you a great ride to the past of embroidery. We try to cover the most essential parts of it.

Moreover, we are sure it will inspire you to try this artwork on your clothes too. And if you don’t think that you are that skilful, then you can buy some embroidered patches and add them to your jeans, jacket or shoes.

There is no end or borderline of creativity; the same is true with embellishments. You can experiment with designs, fabrics or thread. That is not the end; you can add buttons, pearls or gems to it too. So what are you waiting for?

Go and grab a needle, thread and a piece of fabric and let your imagination out in the form of embroidery.

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