AS a guiding classification of methods of embroidery considered from the technical point of view, I have set down the following heads: (a) Embroidery of materials in frames. (b) Embroidery of materials held in the hand.
(c) Positions of the needle in making stitches.
(d) Varieties of stitches.
(e) Effects of stitches in relation to materials into which they are worked.
(f) Methods of stitching different materials together. (g) Embroidery in relief. (h) Embroidery on open grounds like net, etc. (i) Drawn thread work ; needlepoint lace. (j) Embroidery allied to tapestry weaving.
In the first place, I define embroidery as the ornamental enrichment by needlework of a given material. Such material is usually a closely-woven stuff; but skins of animals, leather, etc., also serve as foundations for embroidery, and so do nets.
(a) Materials to be embroidered may be either stretched out in a frame, or held loosely (b) in the hand. Experience decides when either way is the better. For embroidery upon nets, frames are indispensable. The use of frames is also necessary when a particular aim of the embroiderer is to secure an even tension of stitch throughout his work. There are various frames, some large and standing on trestles ; in these many feet of material can be stretched out. Then there are small handy frames in which a square foot or two of material is stretched ; and again there are smaller frames, usually circular, in which a few inches of materials of delicate texture, like muslin and cambric, may be stretched.
Oriental embroiderers, like those of China, Japan, Persia, and India, are great users of frames for their work.
(c) Stitches having peculiar or individual characteristics are comparatively few. Almost all are in use for plain needlework. It is through the employment of them to render or express ornament or pattern that they become embroidery stitches. Some embroiderers and some schools of embroidery contend that the number of embroidery stitches is almost infinite. This, however, is probably one of the myths of the craft. To begin with, there are barely more than two different positions in which the needle is held for making a stitch - one when the needle is passed more or less horizontally through the material, the other when the needle is worked more or less vertically. In respect of the first-named way, the point of the needle enters the material usually in two places, and one pull takes the embroidery thread into the material more or less horizontally, or along or behind its surface (Fig. I). In the second, the needle is passed upwards from beneath the material, pulled right through it, and then returned downwards, so that there are two pulls instead of one to complete a single stitch.
A hooked or crochet needle with a handle is held more or less vertically for working a chain stitch upon the surface of a material stretched in a frame, but
Fig. I. - Stem Stitch - a peculiar use of short stitches.
this is a method of embroidery involving the use of an implement distinct from that done with the ordinary and freely-plied needle. Still, including this last-named method, which comes into the class of embroidery done with the needle in a more or less vertical position, we do not get more than two distinctive positions for holding the embroidery needle.
Fig. 2. - Chain Stitch.
(d) Varieties of stitches may be classified under two sections : one of stitches in which the thread is looped, as in chain stitch, knotted stitches, and button-392 hole stitch; the other of stitches in which the thread is not looped, but lies flatly, as in short and long stitches - crewel or feather stitches as they are sometimes called, - darning stitches, tent and cross stitches, and satin stitch.
Fig. 3. - Satin Stitch.
Almost all of these stitches produce different sorts of surface or texture in the embroidery done with them. Chain stitches, for instance, give a broken or granular - looking surface (Fig. 2). This effect in surface is more strongly marked when knotted stitches are used. Satin stitches give a flat surface (Fig. 3), and are generally used for embroidery or details which are to be of an
Fig. 4. - Feather or Crewel Stitch - a mixture of long and short stitches.
even tint of colour. Crewel or long and short stitches combined (Fig. 4) give a slightly less even texture than satin stitches. Crewel stitch is specially adapted to the rendering of coloured surfaces of work in which different tints are to modulate into one another.
(e) The effects of stitches in relation to the materials into which they are worked can be considered under two broadly-marked divisions. The one is in regard to embroidery which is to produce an effect on one side only of a material; the other to embroidery which shall produce similar effects equally on both the back and front of the material. A darning and a satin stitch may be worked so that the embroidery has almost the same effect on both sides of the material. Chain stitch and crewel stitch can only be used with regard to effect on one side of a material.
(/) But these suggestions for a simple classification of embroidery do not by any means apply to many methods of so-called embroidery, the effects of which depend upon something more than stitches. In these other methods cutting materials into shapes, stitching materials together, or on to one another, and drawing certain threads out of a woven material and then working over the undrawn threads, are involved.