EMBROIDERY: SOME INTRODUCTORY ASPECTS AND TWO COMMONLY USED STITCHES
DISTINCTIVE EMBROIDERY STYLES OF INDIA
MATERIALS REQUIRED FOR EMBROIDERY
TOOLS REQUIRED FOR EMBROIDERY
CHOOSING AND W ORKING STITCHES 1.6.1 RUNNING STITCH 1.6.2 STEM STITCH
ASSIGNMENTS 1.7.1 CLASS ASSIGNMENTS 1.7.2 HOME ASSIGNMENTS
POSSIBLE ANSWERS TO SELF-CHECK QUESTIONS
1.10 TERMINAL QUESTIONS 1.11 REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED FURTHER READING 1.12 GLOSSARY
1. EMBROIDERY: SOME INTRODUCTORY ASPECTS AND TWO COMMONLY USED STITCHES In the first unit of this course on “Embroidery”, we will learn about eight different embroidery stitches. In this lesson, after tracing the historical background, we will talk about some distinctive embroidery styles of India and then move to different materials and tools required for embroidery. Two types of most commonly used stitches in embroidery viz., the running stitch and the stem stitch will then be described in some detail. In the next two lessons, the remaining of the six stitches used in embroidery will be described.
Objectives After going through this lesson you will be able to
• • •
Understand what is embroidery, the historical background of embroidery and distinctive embroidery styles of India. Know about the different material and tools required for embroidery. Understand how the running stitch and stem stitch are made and how these are used.
1.1 Introduction In the course on “Traditional Textiles of India” (Course No. CTD 201), embroidered textiles have been discussed and described in three lessons – Lesson 13 dealing with embroidered textiles of India, Lesson 14 with Kashmir embroidery and Lesson 15 with Phulkari and Bagh (mainly in traditional embroidered shawls of Punjab). As stated there, embroidery is a method of ornamentation of a fabric achieved by stitching a design on it with a needle and thread. A wide variety of different types of embroidery and embroidery stitches has been developed in various parts of the world with a distinctive range of stitches and decorative motifs. Historically, India has a rich tradition of ornamentation of fabrics through embroidery and in Lesson 13 of course no CTD 201 the embroidery of Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal, U.P., Bihar, M.P., Assam, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Southern India has been briefly described. Two examples of embroidery are shown in Fig. 1.1.
Embroidery may be done by hand or by the zig-zag motion in a sewing machine or by using an embroidery machine usually based on the Schiffli embroidery process developed in Switzerland requiring as many as a thousand needles. A six thread embroidery machine can, for example, embroider up to 1200 stitches per minute. Not all hand embroidery stitches can be created by machines but through computers design changes and stitch variations can be accomplished quickly and easily. This lesson will mainly describe hand embroidery. It is worth mentioning that embroidery is relatively durable and often outlasts the ground fabric. Embroidery involves doing beautiful thread work on a variety of fabrics, which makes the fabric more attractive. You must have seen and appreciated various works of embroidery in your daily life. Be it the beautiful wall hanging or the dupatta or the bed cover or the captivating design on the salwar suit, textile design cannot be devoid of this very old tradition of ornamentation.
Fig. 1.2 Samples of Embroidered Textiles
Embroidery like any handicrafts of artistic value is the manifestation of man’s yearning for beauty, for introducing grace and elegance into the monotony and drabness of everyday life, through fine form and colour. This lure has remained constant and explains the fascination of embroidery through the ages. Embroidery is an orchestration of needle and thread to create appealing designs. It is no exaggeration as the Romans have said “Embroidery is painting with needle”. In this and the next two lessons, we will explore the fascinating and beautiful world of Embroidery. Starting with a brief history of the Embroidery, we will study the various facets of this art, and the intricacies involved in its execution. In this lesson, we will learn what Embroidery is. Then, we will look at the historical background of Indian Embroidery. We will conclude this lesson with two types of stitches most commonly used in embroidery.
Self-Check Questions Fill in the blanks 1. Embroidery is a beautiful ________ work on a variety of fabrics, which makes the fabric more _________. 2. The Romans have said “Embroidery is ________ with needle”.
Ornamentation of fabrics has been practised for as long as fabrics themselves have been used. It started with creating designs on the loom, then by dyeing the fabric followed by printing and finally through embroidery, China and India were perhaps the first countries where it developed. Bronze needles used for embroidery were found in Mohenjodaro suggesting that this art was practised in the Indus Valley around 5000 years ago. The embroidery was used to adorn garments of rich hues with silk, metallic thread or jewels. With the silk worms being taken from the orient to the west, the art of embroidery began to be practised in Italy, France, England and America. Since centuries, Indian craftsmen have been producing masterpieces on clothes of different kinds ranging from a small handkerchief to large bridal dresses. The range of India’s embroidery styles is closely linked to regional variations, both in materials and stitch type. Each state in India flaunts a unique style in sync with its tradition. The satin stitch is used in Kashmir, while the “bagh” and “phulkari” of Punjab is befittingly vibrant like the people of the state. The interlacing stitches of Kutch (Fig. 1.3) and Kathiawar are as beautiful as they are intricate. The “kasuti” stitch of Karnataka too is popular due to its traditional value. The white on white “chikan” work of Uttar Pradesh is breathtaking while the silk embroidery of Surat has extremely beautiful patterns.
Fig. 1.3 Embroidery work of Kutch
Fig. 1.4 Embroidery of Moghul Period
The patterns of textiles represented in early sculptures suggest that sophisticated embroidery techniques were known from an early period. Unfortunately there are few surviving examples of embroidery from before the Moghul period (Fig. 1.4). From the accounts of Ain-i-Akbari, we know that special workshops or karkhanas for embroidery were set up. Indian embroideries have been found in England as early as the 17th century, but examples from later periods are more common. British control and trade with many countries made an influence on Indian embroidery. Most of the Indian embroidery that has survived is either from the rural domestic tradition or from urban workshops.
Distinctive Embroidery Styles of India
An interesting fact is that practically all types of embroidery stitches practised the world over are to be found in India and in this multifaceted cultural land it was inevitable that each region should develop a distinctive style of its own adding to the variety and richness of this craft. Thus from every remote corner have emerged superb compositions as would do credit to any great artist. Let us discuss in brief the distinctive embroideries of various states that show a rich combination of varied stitches.
Fig. 1.5 Kashmir Kashida
Fig. 1.6 Uttar Pradesh Chikankari
Table 1.1 States and their Distinctive Embroideries Kashmir
Phulkari Bharat kaam and Bead Work
Self-Check Questions Fill in the blanks 3. ________ and ________ were perhaps the first countries where ___________ developed. 4. The names of the distinctive embroideries of the following states are: Kashmir
_________ Himachal Pradesh
_________ Karnataka _________ Uttar Pradesh
After getting a glimpse of unique embroidery styles of India, let us discuss the steps involved in doing embroidery.
Materials Required for Embroidery
Embroidery involves fabric and pattern selection, color combination and various types of stitches. Let us understand these in detail: i) Fabric Selection – The stitches used are determined largely by the fabric available and have also been dictated by the quality of the woven fabric e.g. the Shadow embroidery or ‘Double Back Stitch’ looks attractive on transparent fabrics like Organdie while Satin Stitch looks better on thick fabric. Interrelated with this is the type of design to be woven, whether it is to be geometric and counted, or curved and free flowing. ii) Pattern Selection – The pattern or design depends upon the article to be made e.g. a table cloth would require geometrical designs or flowers while a bed cover would require bold designs. Here, usage should also be kept in mind. Bed Sheets or pillow covers require borders so that it is comfortable while bed covers can have all over designs. iii) Colour Combination – Bed covers can generally be done with bright colors while children’s dresses need pastel shades. iv) Tracing the design - The various methods to transfer a design on to the material are: • • •
Direct Drawing Method Using Carbon Paper Using a Butter Paper
Using A Tracing Wheel Running Stitch Method
Tools Required for Embroidery • •
Cloth Scissors o A pair of Dressmaker’s Scissors o A pair of Small Pointed Scissors o A pair of Pointed Scissors o A pair of Zig-zag Scissors
Thimble Needles o Long Eye Needle(chenille) o Round Eye Needle(crewel) o Tapestry Needle
• • • • • •
Poker Wooden Frame Embroidery Hoop (Ring) Pencil Ruler Thread – o silk o wool o mercerized cotton or linen o fine metallic filament
Fig. 1.7 Tools used for Embroidery
The thickness of thread depends upon whether the design is bold or delicate. Hand embroidery threads or yarns are usually four-fold yarns twisted from two fold yarns. Soft twist is given to permit the yarn to flatten out when sewn and display its visual characteristics. The yarns are smooth and regular and are available in a range of colours and shades with bright lustre.
Choosing and Working of Stitches
There are many stitches which can be used. They are listed in Lesson 13 of Course No. CTD 201. We will be discussing eight of such stitches. These can be used to outline design as well as for filling work.
Two of the most commonly used stitches will be described in this lesson and the rest in a subsequent lesson. Before we begin with the stitches, it is important to know that these stitches can be hand embroidered as well as machine embroidered. With the increasing demand, machine embroidery is becoming popular as it offers variety and can be done faster and because of being faster and involving less of labour, machine embroidery is cheaper than hand embroidery. Also, stitches like Satin stitch that require a lot of neatness can be done more easily on machine. Nonetheless, the emerging fashion trends have ensured that hand embroidery is given its due. 1.6.1 Running Stitch Running stitch is the simplest and most basic of all stitches which can be used to build up patterns. It is also called the ‘quilting stitch. This is one of the most important stitches used to outline designs. To work this stitch, you are required to move the needle over and under the fabric at regular spaces, along the embroidery line. Neatness comes if there is regularity in the stitch size, both, over and beneath the cloth. The steps involved are: •
Pass the needle over and under the fabric, making the upper stitches of equal length.
It should be kept in mind that the under stitches should also be of equal length.
For a laced running stitch, we can use a contrasting coloured thread that passes through the running stitch.
Use a round pointed needle for lacing.
Fig. 1.8 Running stitch
Fig.1.9 An example of Running stitch
Uses: Running stitch is used for making outlines of designs. This stitch is also used for filling work. Kantha of Bengal, Phulkari of Punjab and pashmina shawls of Kashmir make extensive use of running stitch.
1. Select a design which is suitable for kantha work. Trace it on an 8â€?x 8â€? fabric and embroider it with running stitches.
1.6.2 Stem Stitch Stem stitch is an outline stitch and is commonly used in floral designs to make the stems. Stem stitch is also known by other names like Crewel stitch and Stalk stitch etc. Stem stitch is worked from left to right, making small regular stitches, along the line of the design. It can be worked in two ways. In the first way, it looks like a straight line. In the second way, it looks knotted in between. 1. In the first method the steps used are: a. The needle is brought from the backside to the front side of the fabric design outline.
b. Work from left to right. c. Insert at some distance and exit a half stitch length back. (In every case, the needle must be moved a step backward before a step is taken forward.) d. Keep the length of the stitches equal. 2. Second method to embroider is: a. Pass the needle through the stitch slanting. b. Wrap the yarn round the needle and take out the needle from below upward through the fabric. This results into knots at distances. c. This stitch is suitable for thin tendrils or for designs with outlines. d. For both methods, a sharp long eye needle of no. 7 to 9 should be used.
Fig. 1.10 Stem stitch
Fig. 1.11 An example of Stem stitch
Uses: The stem stitch is used to embroider small designs like delicate tendrils on bibs, baby frocks, sari borders etc.
Activity 2. Select a small motif of an animal or a bird and embroider it with stem stitches.
1.7.1 Class assignments i)
On a fabric 8”x12”, embroider straight horizontal lines of 6” each. Embroider with Running Stitch and Stem Stitch. Retain this fabric for further practice of other stitches. (Exercise to be explained in fine detail with a list of the materials students need to complete this assignment.)
Trace a simple design on a fabric 8”x12” using one of the methods discussed (show adequate designs).
1.7.2 Home assignments i)
After you complete this exercise, embroider sample 1 with Running Stitch and Sample 2 with Stem Stitch.
Try to find and bring a sample of any work done using Running Stitch or Stem Stitch.
A number of aspects of embroidery have been covered in this lesson. These include the historical background, distinctive styles of different states, materials and tools required for embroidery, steps to be followed in embroidery and execution of two types of stitches.
Possible Answers to Self-Check Questions Fill in the blanks
1. Embroidery is a beautiful thread work on a variety of fabrics, which makes the fabric more attractive. 2. The Romans have said “Embroidery is painting with needle”. 3. China and India were perhaps the first countries where embroidery
4. The embroidery of Kashmir is kashida, Gujarat is mirror work, Bengal is kantha, Himachal Pradesh is chamba rumal, Karnataka is kasuti, Bihar is kashida, Orissa is appliquĂŠ, Punjab is Phulkari & bagh, Uttar Pradesh is chikankari and Rajasthan is Bharat kaam and Bead Work.
1.10 Terminal Questions 1.
List the distinctive embroideries of various states of India.
Briefly outline the steps involved in doing embroidery.
1.11 References and Suggested Further Reading 1. Chattopadhyay, K. 1977. Indian Embroidery. Wiley Eastern Ltd. New Delhi. 2. Mistry, N. C. Embroidery Designs. Navneet Publications Ltd. Mumbai. 3. Naik, S.D. 1996. Traditional Corporation. New Delhi.
of India. A.P.H. Publishing
4. Naik, S.D. 1997. Folk Embroidery and Traditional Handloom Weaving. A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. New Delhi. 5. Paine, S. 1995. Embroidered Textiles. Thames and Hudson Ltd. London.
1.12 Glossary 1.
To attract and hold the interest of; to charm
Completely lacking in
Dull and uninteresting
The art of sewing decorative needle work patterns on cloth etc.
At same distance from a point
A particular skill of making decorative objects by hand or an object made by using a skill of this kind.
A sign or evidence of something
Boring because of repetition
A design that consists of recurring shapes or colours. A recurrent thematic element or dominant theme or central idea.
A very thin pointed piece of metal with a hole or eye for thread at the blunter end, used in sewing.
The act or process of decorating, adorning, or embellishing in order to beautify.
Caution, foresight, forethought
Relating to or marked by reaction
16. Sewing machine Machine with a mechanically driven needle for sewing. 17. Stitch(es)
A loop of thread or yarn resulting from a single pass of the needle in sewing, knitting, or crocheting.
18. Wall hanging
Decoration that is hung on a wall or a window.
19. Zig-zag motion
A line or a course having sharp alternate right and left turns.