The main origins of embroidery date back to the Cro-Magnon days of 30,000 BC and the remains of hand-stitched and decorated clothing, boots as well as hats designed and used by the people at that time. So, it is safe to say that it was primitive man who first laid down the foundation of needle crafts and discovered that durable threads could be created from animal sinew or plant fibres and stitch together with needles made from bone or ivory.
A clear evidence of this practice was discovered in 1964 in an archaeological hole in Sungir which is near Vladimir, Russia - where fossilized remains of a Cro-Magnon living around 30,000 BC were found. The human was wearing fur clothes, boots and hat that were all enhanced by the additional of horizontal rows of ivory beads.
This tradition later moved to Siberia around 5000 and 6000 BC, when people would drill shells stitched with decorative designs on animal skin. The art of this handicraft was also noticed in Chinese thread embroidery around 3500 BC where the Chinese depicted embroidery of clothing with silk thread, precious stones as well as pearls. The examples of surviving Chinese chain stitch were also found to be dating to the Warring States period that took place between the fifth and third century BC.
Embroidery, as well as other fiber and needlework arts are believed to originate in the Orient and Middle East, where humankind used them for embellishment. The recorded history, sculptures, paintings and vases that depicted inhabitants of various civilizations clearly show that people wore thread-embroidered clothing.
Later on, embroidery shifted from being an handicraft art to a prestigious and privileged form of clothing. Elaborately embroidered clothing was only worn by the wealthiest people and represented a mark of luxury, privilege and status. From Persia to India, China, Japan and Byzantium as well as Baroque Europe, this type of embroidery was famous everywhere in the new millennium.
There were so many fine processes used to tailor, patch, mend as well as reinforce cloth later. In the 18th century, elaborate freehand stitched embroidery began to appear on the scene, which was mainly wool-work and canvas thread embroidery as some of the best methods known at the time. With the introduction of printed patterns in color, stitching again took a turn and became even more popular as it was entering the 19th century.
From wool to linen and silk, the fabrics and yarns used in the process of traditional embroidery vary from one place to another. Nowadays, embroidery threads are mostly manufactured in cotton, rayon or novelty yarns as well as wool, linen and silk. There are so many embroidery techniques available nowadays such as chain stitch and couching or laid-work as the most economical ones out there - guaranteed to provide a sturdier and substantial finished textile.