Embroidery can be defined as the embellishment of a surface with a threaded needle, and we generally narrow that definition to mean using a hand-held needle and thread to decorate fabric for garments. That still leaves a broad spectrum of techniques and styles for embroidery, such as basic stitches (chain, feather, cross-stitch, etc.), whitework, drawn-thread and pulled thread, raised or padded embroidery, Jacobean, samplers, couching, and silk shading to name a few. Many types of embroidery were developed in specific areas of the world, including Hardanger, Schwalm, Colbert, and Ayrshire; some techniques have fallen out of general use only to be revived in later years such as blackwork, candlewicking, goldwork, and stumpwork. Fiber choices vary from stranded cotton to pure silk and even metals that have been stranded, and there are new synthetic fibers to experiment with today, as well as various cotton, linen, silk, wool and synthetic fabrics upon which to work. Some embroiderers prefer to duplicate traditional fibers and styles as much as possible, while others delight in combining different techniques, fibers and styles, to create a very personalized art form.
SAGA provides classes at its annual convention in many types of embroidery. SAGA Stitches programs are available, as well as correspondence courses and chapter programs for those interested in learning various types of embroidery.
SAGA members may access the embroidery bibliography here.