Currently viable crafts




The decoration of fabric and other materials with a needle and thread.


Status Currently viable
Craft category Textiles
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK
Current no. of professionals (main income)
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required



Embroidery is an ancient craft with a long and diverse history. Until the twentieth century embroidery was largely ornamental, with the medium being used to enhance costume and furnishings, prized ceremonial and routine everyday items alike. During the last century it also emerged as an expressive medium used by artists.

In the twenty-first century, embroidery is increasingly admired as an art form, and continues to flourish as a popular leisure pursuit. Great satisfaction and wonderful effects can be achieved with very simple stitchery, and embroidery has the advantage of needing little in the way of equipment or facilities to be taken up and enjoyed.



Stitches are made by hand, and, increasingly since the nineteenth century, by machine also. Traditionally embroidery stitches were created with threads made from natural fibres: silk, linen, cotton and wool; as well as decorations such as jewels, beads, coins and shells.

In the twentieth century creative embroiderers took an increasingly innovative approach to their medium and introduced a range of unusual materials as both ‘thread’ and ground material. Some creative embroiderers have chosen to include other media and processes such as dye, paint and drawing with their embroidery.


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Craftspeople currently known


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