Embroidery is a beautiful craft in which a needle and special threads are used to create stitched embellishments on fabrics, either by hand or by machine. The stitches are collectively referred to as embroidery stitches, and there is no one specific embroidery stitch. The term is used generically to refer to any of the different stitches used in embroidery. Some of the most common embroidery stitches are chain stitches, cross stitches, back stitches, and satin stitches. A few different types of knot stitches can also be classified as embroidery stitches, such as the French knot, the double knot, and the cable chain knot.
Decorative accents on items such as tablecloths, clothing, pillows, and purses can be created with embroidery. Other times, embroidery can be done on fabric to create or enhance an image, sometimes using a combination of several different stitches to create beautiful scenes and pictures. Often, embroidery is used to add a monogram or logo to items such as jackets or hats. Embroidery is done with a special type of thread, called embroidery floss, which is available in just about every color and in several different textures.
Each embroidery stitch is created by a different technique of inserting the threaded needle in and out of the fabric, and each type of embroidery stitch has a different look when completed. For instance, cross stitches are made by forming a series of the letter "X," usually in large groups of closely grouped stitches, while a satin stitch is created by using a sewing-like motion to place several threads close together, for designs like monograms or flowers. The simpler stitches, such as the chain stitch and the back stitch, are easy enough for a beginner to master without much practice. Other stitches, such as the French knot, buttonhole stitch, or feather stitch are a bit more complicated but can be learned with a little bit of patience and practice.
An embroidery machine takes all of the guess-work out of embroidery and can embroider items in a fraction of the time it would take to hand-embroider them. Machines can reproduce a selected embroidery stitch to add accents to items and are often used when several items are going to be embroidered with the same design, such as hats for a baseball team. Modern embroidery machines look like sewing machines and operate basically the same way. Many can also do sewing as well as embroidery.