Needlework is a broad term for the handicrafts of decorative sewing and textile arts. Anything that uses a needle for construction can be called needlework. The definition may expand to include related textile crafts such as a crochet hook or tatting shuttles.
Similar abilities often transfer well between different varieties of needlework, such as fine motor skill and a knowledge of textile fibers. Some of the same tools may be used in several different varieties of needlework. For instance, a needle threader is useful in nearly all needle crafts.
Types of Needlework
Types of Needlework – Quilting
Quilting is a sewing method done either by hand, by sewing machine, or by a long arm quilting system. The Quilting process uses a needle and thread to join two or more layers of material together to make a quilt. Typical quilting is done with three layers: the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and backing material. The quilter’s hand or sewing machine passes the needle and thread through all layers and then brings the needle back up. The Quilting process is repeated across the entire piece where quilting is wanted. A straight or running stitch is commonly used and these stitches can be purely functional or decorative and elaborate. Quilting is done on bed spreads, art quilt wall hangings, clothing, and a variety of textile products. Quilting can make a project thick, or with dense quilting, can raise one area so that another stands out.
Types of Needlework – Applique
An applique is a smaller ornament or device applied to another surface. In the context of ceramics, for example, an applique is a separate piece of clay added to the primary work, generally for the purpose of decoration. The word applique is a french word that, in this context, means that has been applied.
In the context of sewing, applique refers a needlework technique in which pieces of fabric, embroidery, or other materials are sewn onto another piece of fabric to create designs, patterns or pictures. Applique is particularly suitable for work which is to be seen from a distance, such as in banner-making. A famous example of applique is the Hastings Embroidery.
Types of Needlework – Applique is used extensively in quilting. Dresden Plate and Sunbonnet Sue are two examples of traditional American quilt blocks that are constructed with both patchwork and applique. Baltimore album quilts, Broderie perse, Hawaiian quilts, Amish quilts and the ralli quilts of India and Pakistan also use applique.
Types of Needlework – Tatting
Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a particularly durable lace constructed by a series of knots and loops. Tatting can be used to make lace edging as well as doilies, collars, and other decorative pieces. The lace is formed by a pattern of rings and chains formed from a series of cow hitch, or half-hitch knots, called double stitches (ds), over a core thread. Gaps can be left between the stitches to form picots, which are used for practical construction as well as decorative effect.
Types of Needlework – Tatting dates to the early 19th century. The term for tatting in most European languages is derived from French frivolito, which refers to the purely decorative nature of the textiles produced by this technique. The technique was developed to imitate point lace.
Types of Needlework – Embroidery
Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as metal strips, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins.
Types of Needlework – A characteristic of embroidery is that the basic techniques or stitches of the earliest work-chain stitch, buttonhole or blanket stitch, running stitch, satin stitch, cross stitch-remain the fundamental techniques of hand embroidery today.
Types of Needlework – Machine embroidery, arising in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, mimics hand embroidery, especially in the use of chain stitches, but the “satin stitch” and hemming stitches of machine work rely on the use of multiple threads and resemble hand work in their appearance, not their construction.
Types of Needlework – Crochet
Crochet is a process of creating fabric from yarn or thread using a crochet hook. The word is derived from the Middle French word croc or croche, meaning hook. Crocheting, similar to knitting, consists of pulling loops of yarn through other loops. Crochet differs from knitting in that only one loop is active at one time (the sole exception being Tunisian crochet), and that a crochet hook is used instead of knitting needles.
Types of Needlework – Knitting
Knitting is a method by which thread or yarn may be turned into cloth. Knitting consists of loops called stitches pulled through each other. The active stitches are held on a needle until another loop can be passed through them.
Types of Needlework – Knitting may be done by hand or by machine. By hand, there are numerous styles and methods. Flat knitting, which can be done on two straight needles or a circular needle, produces a length of cloth, while circular knitting, which is done on circular or double-pointed needles, produces a seamless tube.
Types of Needlework – Different yarns and knitting needles may be used to achieve different end products by giving the final piece a different color, texture, weight, or integrity. Using needles of varying sharpness and thickness as well as different varieties of yarn adds to the effect.
Types of Needlework – Lucet
Lucet is a method of cordmaking or braiding which is believed to date back to the Viking and Medieval periods, when it was used to hang useful items from the belt. Lucet cord is square, strong, and slightly springy. It closely resembles knitted I-cord or the cord produced on a knitting spool. Lucet cord is formed by a series of loops, and will therefore unravel if cut. A lucet fork is normally made of wood, with two prongs at one end and a handle on the other. It may also have a hole through which the cord can be pulled.
Types of Needlework – Braiding
Braiding or braid (also called plait) is a complex structure or pattern formed by intertwining three or more strands of flexible material such as textile fibers, wire, or human hair. Compared to the process of weaving a wide sheet of cloth from two separate, perpendicular groups of strands (warp and weft), a braid is usually long and narrow, with each component strand functionally equivalent in zigzagging forward through the overlapping mass of the others.
Types of Needlework – The simplest possible braid is a flat, solid three-strand structure. More complex braids can be constructed from an arbitrary (but usually odd) number of strands to create a wider range of structures: wider ribbon-like bands, hollow or solid cylindrical cords, or broad mats which resemble a rudimentary perpendicular weave.
Braids are commonly used to make rope, decorative objects, and hairstyles (also see pigtails, French braid). Complex braids have been used to create hanging fiber artworks.
Types of Needlework – Braids were and still are a common form of expression in the African-American community. Some braids are very elaborate and show individuality of persons.
Types of Needlework – Tassel Making
A Tassel is a finishing feature in fabric decoration. The tassel is a universal ornament that is seen in varying versions in many cultures around the globe.
Types of Needlework – Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, woven on a vertical loom. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length (called the warp) and those parallel to the width (called the weft); the warp threads are set up under tension on a loom, and the weft thread is passed back and forth across part or all of the warps. Tapestry is weft-faced weaving, in which all the warp threads are hidden in the completed work, unlike cloth weaving where both the warp and the weft threads may be visible. In tapestry weaving, weft yarns are typically discontinuous; the artisan interlaces each colored weft back and forth in its own small pattern area. It is a plain weft-faced weave having weft threads of different colors worked over portions of the warp to form the design.
Most weavers use a naturally based warp thread such as linen or cotton. The weft threads are usually wool or cotton, but may include silk, gold, silver, or other alternatives.