A Brief History of Embroidery

Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 at 3:15 pm

We can't get enough of embroidery right now at 7 for All Mankind. The new SS17 women's
collection is filled with colorful flowers and patterns and has us dreaming of warmer spring

7fam embroidery

A natural companion to our favourite fabric – denim, of course – we take a look into the history
of this intricate craft (900 years and counting is nothing to sniff at) and how this age-old art
form came to dominate the list of trends that we've fallen for this season.

4th Century BC

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Kimono, Japan, 1820-60, satin silk known as shu, embroidered in silk & metallic thread via

It's a sartorial miracle that garments from the Zhou Dynasty have survived as evidence of
Chinese thread embroidery – in the form of a embroidered silk gauze garment that would
actually look great with jeans.



Alexander McQueen AW10 — as inspired by the coronation mantle of Roger II of Sicily
Image via @Guardian.

The coronation mantle of Roger II of Sicily tells us two things. That Versace might have existed
in the Middle Ages. And that the Italian flair for the dramatic remains intact to this day. Made
from glorious red silk embroidered with golden threads woven in the form of a tree and
stylised lions – it was finished with rows of pearls and precious stones.



Image via @TeeTeeHeeHe

The Industrial Revolution heralded a new age of embroidery innovation. Berlin wool work
started to become popularized with patterns published in women's magazines like “The
Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine”. You might have seen examples of this at vintage
furniture fairs with 1970s era cushions (heavily inspired by this period) now becoming popular.



William Morris embroidery
Image via @AchicaLiving

English textile designer William Morris is credited with leading the revival of freehand
embroidery techniques. The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, London is worth a visit
and is set in the beautiful Georgian house he lived in with his family. We love the colourful
florals and animals he specializes in, as seen on this fabric.

1960 – 1970

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Image via @70sBabes

Embroidery reached the masses during this era and hordes of enthusiastic needleworkers
started an “embroidery craze” with the introduction of embroidery patterns and books.
Tablecloths, cushions, gloves and aprons – all were decorated with flowers, nature scenes and
increasingly extraordinary patterns. Embroidery was the perfect way for cool kids in the ‘60s
and ‘70s to express themselves — and what better way to do this than on denim!



Embroidery by Tessa Perlow
Image via @Vogue

We're in the midst of an embroidery revival. Self-taught embroidery artists like Marie-Sophie
Lockhart are making custom creations for Drake and Rihanna and Sarah K. Benning is creating
tiny slices of contemporary embroidery art for your walls.

7fam embroidery2

So how to wear the trend now? The new 7 For All Mankind collection includes some of our
best-selling denim styles updated for spring with colorful embroidery. We particularly love the
Roxanne and Josefina 7 For All Mankind jeans.

Explore the full embroidery edit here.