About Embroidery – An Ancient Art Loved by our Suppliers

Monday, 22 January 2018  |  Kate

People have been embellishing their clothing for as long as the human race has worn clothes. As skilled pattern-seekers at a genetic level, humans respond strongly to pattern. And our natural love of colour enhances our lives every day, in all sorts of ways. That's why our razor cut, applique, patchwork and embroidered clothes are so popular year after year – fashions come and go, but people like you keep on buying our sumptuous colourful and patterned clothing.

Here's some insight into the ancient art of embroidery.

When did humans begin embroidering their clothing?

Experts say embroidery, along with many other needlework crafts, came from the Middle East. When an archaeologist discovered a Cro-Magnon archaeological find dating back 30,000 years they were thrilled to discover the clothing remains they found were beautifully, richly hand-stitched and highly decorated.

There's more. A find in Siberia dating back to 6000 BC included carefully-drilled shells stitched to animal hides in lovely, highly decorative designs. The Chinese have used silk thread, precious stones and pearls in their embroidery for thousands of years, and they even used chain stitch! In fact all sorts of sculptures, paintings and vases, of all sorts of ages, show ancient peoples wearing beautifully embroidered clothing.

Embroidery across the world

Elaborately embroidered clothing, religious objects and household items talk about the status and wealth of the individual. In ancient Persia, India, China, Japan, Byzantium, and medieval and Baroque Europe the techniques of creating these stunning items were passed down through the generations, and in medieval times professionals set up a series of official workshops and guilds for members to spread knowledge and new ideas. It wasn't long before so-called Opus Anglicanum - English work – became highly desirable.  Sri Lanka also has a grand tradition of embroidery, with numerous unique styles including Sinhalese and Kandyan work.

The countries where people still embroider by hand  

The industrial revolution killed off hand-crafted embroidery in the western world because it was cheaper and faster to make. These days embroidered clothing is still made by hand in some countries. In India, for example, every region has its own style of embroidery, with nature playing a key role in the designs: trees, flowers, animals and birds. The women of Rajasthan and Gujarat create embroidered wall hangings, dowry bags, shawls, blouses and trouser suits for their marriage dowry, typically using lots of tiny mirrors. Rajasthan is also home to zardozi, a style using gold threads – originally real gold - to give fabric magical shimmer.

You can buy beautiful hand-embellished  clothing from Nepal, where we source many of our clothes. Our sustainable Nepalese clothing is made by skilled craftspeople with care and love, perfect for discerning ethical consumers like you. And thanks to people like you, these amazing skills are kept alive and passed down through the generations.

Check out our beautiful embroidered clothes

If you're looking for gorgeous authentic hippy wear, we stock the best around, everything from hippy clothes to boho and retro gypsy wear.  And if you adore embroidery, there's a real treat in store for you!


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