I am not talking about the definitions of dictionaries so much as the way in which the two interests are perceived and Stitching describing a more basic style of Embroidery.
At first I thought this would be a fun and quick little question put out there, but the more I think about it and discus the topic with others, the more I am realising that there is not an easy quick answer. So let's call this post...
Embroidery vs Stitching - TAKE ONE
Both Embroidery and Stitching is the practise of adding threads to cloth by the means of a needle. When I look to other needlecrafts such as knitting, crochet and quilting - they don't seem to have different terms like that. If you are a knitter, you knit. So why does decorating fabric with needle and thread? And why are people happy to take up Stitching but run away the minute you mention Embroidery?
When I asked a few friends around the blogs, their responses (other than being greatly appreciated) confirmed for me that this is not at all a silly question, that there are many takes on it and that it is worth pondering and talking about. Why?
Primarily because, in my humble opinion, Embroidery has SO much to offer in the way of textile creativity. It saddens me that people may shy away simply because they think it is too difficult and perhaps old fashioned (?) before they even try. I, myself once thought of Embroidery as a pursuit for older women in grey suits and tight buns on their heads - but my conversion is a story for another day...
"stitching is something that is done as a hobby, for enjoyment, whereas embroidery can definitely be approached as an art form, with many accompanying rules and expectations..." - Floresita, editor of Feeling StitchyLike you, I follow a number of blogs, social media forums, read books and magazines about Stitching and Embroidery, and across all these media the two words are largely used to describe two rather different things, or approaches if you like.
Based on the current use of the terms, Stitching and Embroidery, to describe images created with a threaded needle, it seems to me that Embroidery generally is presented and perceived as being more refined and in a way superior to Stitching. If that is the case, when does Stitching become Embroidery?
Is it when your stitch vocabulary exceeds a certain number of different stitches - or when you become completely and happily absorbed by techniques and execution?
I think there is more to it than that.
|'Sacred Kingfisher' by Trish Burr|
"People are intimidated by the name Embroidery whereas the name Stitching implies something simpler - it is a state of mind. I am more intimidated by the word Stitches than embroidery as it conjures up thoughts of learning a multitude of different stitches which I can't do!" - Trish BurrStitching it seems, is light hearted and a lot of fun. There seems to be a fabulous 'let's have a go' approach to Stitching, which I really, really like. It makes me want to pick up my needle.
Embroidery is generally presented in a much more serious and structured way - it has to be 'properly' taut and there is a lot of history and tradition attached. I find the story and styles of Embroidery fascinating and interesting, primarily as a source of inspiration but not for re-creation. I can see how this might easily be off-putting if you just want to 'kick back' and create something with your hands. Don't get me wrong, I think there is a lot to be learned from tradition, skill and knowledge built up over centuries, but let's not get stuck in tradition and rules just for the sake of it, please!
"...the word embroidery has taken on a meaning that makes it seem inaccessible unless you have been taught how to do it. Rubbish of course." - Kathy Andrews, The Unbroken Thread
I love to embroider but I think that the word and what it means sadly has ended up with a bit of a bad reputation. I come across so many people who tell me they stitch, but 'no they could never embroider..!'. Really it is not hard: needle in and needle out... simple.
"Embroidery definitely can be easy-going, and there's a lot of people making patterns, and embroidery art, which feels a lot more approachable. But it does take time to change people's perceptions, I guess." - Carina Envoldsen-Harris Polka & BloomAre you a stitcher or an embroiderer and what makes you think of yourself as such?
As for me, I am an embroiderer who loves to stitch, then again... perhaps a stitcher, who can't get enough of embroidery?
Most importantly, whatever you do - just keep stitching...
... which is exactly what I am going to do this coming weekend.
Have a lovely weekend where ever you are,