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embroidery

embroidery, ornamental needlework applied to all varieties of fabrics and worked with many sorts of thread—linen, cotton, wool, silk, gold, and even hair. Decorative objects, such as shells, feathers, beads, and jewels, are often sewn to the embroidered piece. The Bayeux tapestry is among the most famous examples of embroidery. The art probably antedates that of weaving. Needlework is mentioned in the Vedas and in Exodus in the Bible. In ancient Egypt, gold was used for the decorative stitches, which often covered the entire garment; such work has been found on mummy wrappings. The borders of Greek and Roman garments were often finely embroidered. In Asia, sumptuous designs of gold and silver thread were produced from remotest times; the intricate embroidery of China became stylized and remained unchanged for centuries. From the richly decorative art of Byzantium (4th cent.) embroidery was introduced into Europe and thereafter followed the great period (12th–14th cent.) of church embroidery. The famous opus Anglicanum, or English work (e.g., the Syon cope, Victoria and Albert Mus.), dates from this time. Monasteries and convents were kept busy adorning vestments and altarpieces, and embroidery ateliers were founded. Secular needlework was far simpler, confined to embroidered bands around the edges of hems, sleeves, necks, and mantles in coarse and dull-colored threads. When Crusaders returned with examples of the superb fabrics of the East, interest in embroidery for nonecclesiastical uses was stimulated, and the technique of appliqué was developed. By 1389 pearls and spangles were being set in the embroidery. After the Renaissance, peasant embroidery flourished in Greece, Scandinavia, the Balkans, and many other areas. Embroidery as folk art was far less varied, complex, and imaginative than the masterworks produced by professional church and court embroiderers. The Elizabethan period was famous for its household and costume embroidery. Gold and silver thread was used on velvet, brocade, and silk, and the allover design was often enhanced with pearls and gems. "Spanish blackwork," black silk on white linen with touches of gold, became enormously popular, while the use of drawnwork and cutwork led to the development of fine lace. In the 18th cent., French influence refined embroidery techniques; quilting was developed using backstitch embroidery, especially popular in making petticoats and coattails. By the 19th cent. embroidery for male attire had declined except for occasional decorative vests and ties. Modern embroidery is most frequently used on lingerie and linens, but with the introduction of machine-made embroidery, the quality has deteriorated.

See U. C. Bath, Embroidery Masterworks (1972); L. F. Day and M. Buckle, Art in Needlework (1900, repr. 1972); Mary Thomas' Embroidery Book (1984).

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Embroidery

Embroidery

The most important method the Byzantines used for decorating their clothing was embroidery. Embroidery is the decoration of fabric with patterns of stitching or needlework, in which thread is pushed through the fabric to make a raised pattern and tied off in back. Forms of embroidery have been found in ancient Egypt and ancient China and were developed several thousand years ago. The art of embroidery was fully realized during the time of the Byzantine Empire (4761453 b.c.e.), when embroidered fabric, trim pieces, and decorative patches became essential to Byzantine costume.

The Byzantines generally wore plain fabric garments that were heavily decorated. Some might have elaborate patterns of embroidery sewn directly on, while others used strips or panels of embroidered fabric sewn at the hem, the waist, or on the sleeves. They were especially fond of geometric patterns, such as repeating squares, circles, or diamonds, and they also used flowers and leaves for ornament. Often birds or mythological creatures were embroidered within the patterns as well. One form of ornament favored by the very wealthy was the tablion, a square piece of heavily embroidered fabric, six to twelve inches wide, attached to the front of a dalmatica (a type of overgarment) or a cloak. Embroiderers used many rich and colorful types of thread to make their work stand out. They might use silk or gold thread, and they favored bright colors, especially purples, golds, reds, blues, and yellows. The rich and beautiful nature of so much Byzantine clothing owes much to the art of the embroiderer. Byzantine embroidery was a great influence on the embroidery of clothing throughout the Middle Ages (c. 500c. 1500 c.e.) and beyond in Europe and Russia in particular.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Cosgrave, Bronwyn. The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.

Yarwood, Doreen. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.

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embroidery

embroidery Decorative needlework (specifically stitching) on cloth. An ancient art, it was used to depict historic events, such as the Bayeux tapestry. During the Renaissance, embroidery was an important art of many royal courts. There was also a tradition of rural and folk embroidery, particularly in e Europe and in the quilting of early English settlers in n America. Most fabrics today are embroidered using machines.

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embroidery

em·broi·der·y / emˈbroid(ə)rē/ • n. (pl. -der·ies) the art or process of embroidering cloth. ∎  cloth decorated in this way. ∎ fig. embellishment or exaggeration in the description or reporting of an event: fanciful embroidery of the facts.

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Embroidery

Embroidery

a diversity or exaggeration.

Examples: an embroidery of courtesy, 1858; of poetic dreams, 1781; of fame, 1648; of wild flowers, 1820; of humour, 1848; of lies.

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embroidery

embroiderybeery, bleary, cheery, dearie, dreary, Dun Laoghaire, eerie, eyrie (US aerie), Kashmiri, leery, peri, praemunire, query, smeary, teary, theory, weary •Deirdre • incendiary • intermediary •subsidiary •auxiliary, ciliary, domiciliary •apiary • topiary • farriery • furriery •justiciary •bestiary, vestiary •breviary • aviary • hosiery •diary, enquiry, expiry, fiery, friary, inquiry, miry, priory, spiry, wiry •podiatry, psychiatry •dowry, floury, flowery, loury, showery, towery •brewery • jewellery (US jewelry) •curie, de jure, fioriture, fury, houri, Jewry, jury, Manipuri, Missouri, moory, Newry, tandoori, Urey •statuary • actuary • sanctuary •obituary • sumptuary • voluptuary •January • electuary • ossuary •mortuary •Bradbury, Cadbury •blackberry, hackberry •cranberry • waxberry •Barbary, barberry •Shaftesbury • raspberry •bayberry, blaeberry •Avebury • Aylesbury • Sainsbury •bilberry, tilbury •bribery •corroboree, jobbery, robbery, slobbery, snobbery •dogberry • Roddenberry • 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promissory •janissary • necessary • derisory •glossary • responsory • sorcery •grocery • greengrocery •delusory, illusory •compulsory • vavasory • adversary •anniversary, bursary, cursory, mercery, nursery •haberdashery •evidentiary, penitentiary, plenipotentiary, residentiary •beneficiary, fishery, judiciary •noshery • gaucherie • fiduciary •luxury • tertiary •battery, cattery, chattery, flattery, tattery •factory, manufactory, olfactory, phylactery, refractory, satisfactory •artery, martyry, Tartary •mastery, plastery •directory, ex-directory, interjectory, rectory, refectory, trajectory •peremptory •alimentary, complementary, complimentary, documentary, elementary, parliamentary, rudimentary, sedimentary, supplementary, testamentary •investigatory •adulatory, aleatory, approbatory, celebratory, clarificatory, classificatory, commendatory, congratulatory, consecratory, denigratory, elevatory, gyratory, incantatory, incubatory, intimidatory, modificatory, participatory, placatory, pulsatory, purificatory, reificatory, revelatory, rotatory •natatory • elucidatory • castigatory •mitigatory • justificatory •imprecatory • equivocatory •flagellatory • execratory • innovatory •eatery, excretory •glittery, jittery, skittery, twittery •benedictory, contradictory, maledictory, valedictory, victory •printery, splintery •consistory, history, mystery •presbytery •inhibitory, prohibitory •hereditary • auditory • budgetary •military, paramilitary •solitary • cemetery • limitary •vomitory • dormitory • fumitory •interplanetary, planetary, sanitary •primogenitary • dignitary •admonitory, monitory •unitary • monetary • territory •secretary • undersecretary •plebiscitary • repository • baptistery •transitory •depositary, depository, expository, suppository •niterie •Godwottery, lottery, pottery, tottery •bottomry • watery • psaltery •coterie, notary, protonotary, rotary, votary •upholstery •bijouterie, charcuterie, circumlocutory •persecutory • statutory • salutary •executory 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•amatory, declamatory, defamatory, exclamatory, inflammatory, proclamatory •crematory • segmentary •lachrymatory •commentary, promontory •informatory, reformatory •momentary •affirmatory, confirmatory •explanatory • damnatory •condemnatory •cosignatory, signatory •combinatory •discriminatory, eliminatory, incriminatory, recriminatory •comminatory • exterminatory •hallucinatory • procrastinatory •monastery • repertory •emancipatory • anticipatory •exculpatory, inculpatory •declaratory, preparatory •respiratory • perspiratory •vibratory •migratory, transmigratory •exploratory, laboratory, oratory •inauguratory • adjuratory •corroboratory • reverberatory •refrigeratory • compensatory •desultory • dysentery •exhortatory, hortatory •salutatory • gustatory • lavatory •inventory •conservatory, observatory •improvisatory •accusatory, excusatory •lathery •feathery, heathery, leathery •dithery, slithery •carvery •reverie, severy •Avery, bravery, knavery, quavery, Savery, savory, savoury, slavery, wavery •thievery •livery, quivery, shivery •silvery •ivory, salivary •ovary •discovery, recovery •servery • equerry • reliquary •antiquary • cassowary • stipendiary •colliery • pecuniary • chinoiserie •misery • wizardry • citizenry •advisory, provisory, revisory, supervisory •causerie, rosary

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