What is crewel embroidery?

rdh1994July 29, 2005

Hi I am a cross stitcher but have seen in several stitchery catalogs "crewel embroidery". I have seen embroidery but have never done it, how is crewel emboidery different? I think there is some beautiful pictures that at first glance in the catalogs I ooh and ahhh and then see it is crewel emboidery and not cross stitch. So I'm thinking maybe I should learn this! Can it be self taught though an instruction book or is it best to find someone to show me?


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Crewel embroidery is done with 2 ply wool. There are a miad of different stiches, about the same as embroidering with floss.

When you get a kit, the instructions are pretty clear on how to do some of the non-cross stich stitches.

For a first project I would start something small, say from Sunset Designs or one of the other manufacturers.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 11:37AM
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Thank you for your reply. I was afraid I wasn't going to get any responses...this doesn't seem to be a real active forum. So embroidery is done with floss like cross stitch, crewel is done with 2 ply wool (like yarn?). Which is nicer done up embroidery or crewel embroidery? Which do you prefer? Have you tried both?
Sorry for all the questions.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 8:12PM
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The 2 are just "different". Generally embroidery (cross-stitch) can be a much finer, detailed design. Crewel is generally a larger type design. I actually prefer counted cross-stitch, but it's simply preference. Both are fun to do and you can get some beautiful projects. Try a smaller sample/design of each, and see what you like.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 8:47PM
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The crewel yarn has a fuzzier texture than embroidery floss, so the designs have an "antique" or "country" kind of look to them (in my opinion!). The embroidery stitches are pretty much the same. If you have CTS or any other trouble with your hands, the crewel may be easier because it's larger thread and you use a larger needle.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 11:58AM
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Take yourself to your local library or maybe Borders book store. They usually have books on this and yes, it is very easy to learn! Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 4:22PM
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I may go look in some books to help me get a better idea. I now understand that they're just basically different yarns. I'm a cross stitcher, but Besbaum,I've never knew of cross stitching being called "embroidery". Two different stitches, one is cross stitchs the other is long stitches more like sewing right??


    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 9:40PM
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Cross stitch is an embroidery stitch. Crewel work is embroidery work done with yarn. It's that simple.

I think you need to look at an embroidery text to get the terms straightened out.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 6:20PM
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Hi Lora!

They are all Embroidery, just different types! Just like there are many different types of sewing needles, but they are all needles when all is said and done. Make that trip to the library or book store and you will be amazed at all the options that are out there! You will see all the different stitches you've never dreamed were out there! What fun you will have learning it all, and by using the library, it is free to learn what you like best and then put your money where you feel you will get the most enjoyment from! I love Halloween and that is what I look for in cross stitch charts and quilting fabrics. I enjoy doing both these crafts. Have fun!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 7:29AM
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Thanks for all the answers to clarify embroidery/crewel embroidery/cross stitch. I guess "needlepoint" would also fall into that category. I think I will go to B&N or the library and sit in one of those comfy stuffed chairs and educate myself.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 12:05PM
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Smart lady! Now you've got it! LOL!! Relax and enjoy your stay. You'll have a great time! Good luck in finding out all kinds of info.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 3:25PM
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Hi, I've done "regular" embriodery and crewel embriodery.
"regular" is done with embriodery floss which is 6 strands of thread wound together. When embriodering you can use anyway from one to six strands. Crewel is done using yarn as mentioned. Regular and crewel embriodery use the same stitches. I just found one website that shows lots of stitches: inaminuteago.com/stitchdict/stitch. You can also get booklets with illustrations of stitches to help you. You can usually figure it out from the pictures, but it can be helpful to have someone actually show you some of the more complicated stitches. I find it a very relaxing hobby, tho I do put it down for long stretches at a time. I used to prefer crewel as I thought you could see mistakes easier with floss LOL, but have found embriodery done with floss can be very pretty and no, the mistakes don't show that much. I really want to try machine embriodery but am afraid it is putting an end to hand embriodery which will be a sad thing.
I haven't tried cross stitch. Oh, forgot to mention these embroideries are done on stamped cloth.
Hope you try it and have fun with it.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 8:51AM
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Thanks for the website. That's interesting looking at the different stitches. Wow! There is a bunch of them. I also find stitching relaxing, although the only time I actually get to sit down and do it is of an evening while watching t.v. after work and dinner. So I don't get alot done. I see so many projects I want but not enough time to do them! But I am going to find a small crewel/or regular embroidery project I can try my hand at. Although, I seem to be attracted to the bigger more beautiful projects, just like in cross stitch. Doing little things or little samplers are boring. I like to pick the bigger more beautiful things. I think the smallest *one* project in cross stich was a 5x7 picture. Everything else has been much bigger and more detailed. I do counted cross stitch, for some reason I don't like the stamped kind. Too difficult to see where one color leaves off and another starts, so I don't know how I'd like embroidery. Just gonna have to try it I guess! Thanks again.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 9:01PM
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Hi Lora,
You can trace a design onto your own fabric. so maybe you could use different colored pencils to help when stitching. The main thing I have against pre-stamped designs is that the manufacturers use low quality fabric. I made a crib blanket with a stamped cross-stitch design. Like you I work around a job and other things so It does take me awhile. After all that work, (and it did come out well), I do wish the fabric was sturdier so it would hold up a long time. My granddaughter is now 6 1/2 and still keeps the blanket on her bed(as a "lovey"). when you trace you own design, you have better selection and can use a good fabric. Try a small project just to see if you like it.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 2:45PM
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Mannnnnnnnnny years ago i started out just doing regular embroidery,using floss.I made dish towels and things like that.Then i graduated to crewel and did several large pictures of Indians and baskets which my DD still has to this day.I now am an avid cross stitcher,and hardly a day goes by that i don't pick up my needles.
I like all kinds of needlework and they each have their own place in my life and heart.Learn as much as you can,you'll never be sorry for it.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 5:13PM
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Here are some stitch charts

Here is a link that might be useful: emboidery stitches

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 2:37PM
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sarasal- I've had issues with the material from kits as well over the years (I'm a third-generation stitcher) but in most cases, I've just backed it - used the embroidered bit as the 'face' and added another fabric to the back, then tufted them together.

with polar fleece and the microfiber fabrics, it's the easiest thing in the world, but you can use cotton or satin for something you need to keep 'light'

sometimes I will use fusible web to cut down on the 'pouf' of two layers, and sometimes, I'll add batting, and make something more 'quilt' like out of it.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 2:39PM
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There is also candlewicking which is embroidery done with a thicker cotton thread. All types of crewel, candlewicking and floss are lovely. There is also embroidery with silk thread.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 3:12PM
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I have to chime in. By now you probably know more than you ever wanted about crewel embroidery. I have done many and enjoy it. I prefer the kits that do NOT have a pre-printed background where you fill in certain areas. I tried counted cross stitch, but I always seemed to be off on my count, and I didn't like the stamped cross stitch.

With crewel, there is no counting, just complete the outlined area with the required stitch. Since the yarn is thicker, your picture will have more depth to it. The worst thing to me about it is when you get the kit and you have to determine the correct colors from a large bundle of yarn.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2005 at 8:57AM
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