An Art That Is “Embroidered” In History

Despite all the technological advancements in this craft, hand-stitched art work is still thriving.


Kate Smith, Staff Writer

When people hear the word “embroidery,” they often think of 1800’s schoolgirls, forced to stitch the alphabet one tedious pull of the needle at a time.

Nowadays, there are machines to embroider computerized designs. Most people wouldn’t imagine taking up a hobby that can easily be done by a machine. However, look up hand embroidery on a site like, and a wealth of results pop up. Plenty of people still take the time and effort to make beautiful hand-stitched pieces. There are thousands of tutorials for beginner embroiderers out there and a variety of embroidery kits are available at the nearest craft store. Embroidery has become an accessible, fun way to be creative. For junior student Josie McCormick, embroidery started as a quarantine hobby and has become a passion for her. “I like it because it’s hard to mess up, and even if you do mess up, it’s easy to fix your mistakes.” She adds, “It also makes my clothes look so fun!” 

Embroidery has had many uses and forms throughout history. In the ancient past, embroidery was used to decorate clothes and items to show status. In the 1700s and 1800s, it was common practice for women and schoolgirls. Schoolgirls would complete samplers–or small pieces of embroidery work–for educational purposes. Working class women would practice letters and typography so they could get jobs embroidering items. The high class women would practice decorative designs instead of the more practical lettering. By the 1900s, embroidery patterns came out and the practice became more widespread. During the Women’s Rights Movement, embroidery and needlework became a way to meet and plan. The suffragettes often gathered over their sewing and embroidery. 

In contemporary times, people do needlework for fun or to sell. Embroidery is quite a relaxing and meditative activity, perfect for someone who enjoys calming, repetitive motions. Anyone and everyone can customize their clothes however they want, stitch a witty quote and hang it on their wall, even make a picture like a painting to decorate with. Long past are the days where embroidery was a despised activity of young school girls or a necessary skill for working women. It has been reinvented into a new art form and has become a hobby that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Embroidery is a great skill to learn, and a variety of creative things can be done with it. McCormick has some words of advice for beginners and anyone interested in trying it out. “I would advise to start with easy stuff, then work your way up to bigger, more difficult projects.”