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Diving Into The Craft of Embroidery

by Gulistan van der Linden

Embroidery is an art form with a long and fascinating history all around the world. It has been used for centuries to patch and reinforce garments, extending their life and hence creating a low-waste world by becoming a core technique. Embroidery is traditionally a sustainable practice that also helps to reduce waste by being a beautiful way of repairing and mending items when needed, instead of being thrown away and replaced. Sustainable practice embroidery is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of crafting, sewing, and creating beautiful items.

Now we use embroidery as a way to express our creativity and emotions. It isn’t just a craft, it’s an art form that requires patience, precision and creativity. Also, it has a social and intergenerational element in it. Bridal dowries are a beautiful example of how people come together to work on a single project together. The knowledge passes from one to another without formal training. Grandmothers teach their grandchildren the same techniques they learned from their own grandmothers.  As a child, there is nothing quite like learning a craft from your mother—especially when it's a skill that has been passed down for generations. It is a wonderful skill to learn and share with your family and it can be a bonding experience that stays with you forever.

Embroidery is an excellent way to reduce our environmental footprint compared to print solutions, as it is more durable, and more resistant to fading and tearing. Embroidery on garments generally outlasts the garment, whereas prints, if not screen-printed on the fabric, tend to fade long before the garment does. Inspired by this, as a team of sustainability experts and a designer, we decided to explore the world of embroidery and incorporated it into our designs. 

NASAQU began as a project to explore ways of protecting nature and natural resources. NASAQU is a Sumerian word — the earliest ancient civilization known founded between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers — meaning Kiss. NASAQU embroideries are inspired by the techniques practised in and around Eastern Asia and later in Western Asia since ancient times. There are traditional techniques in our designs such as embroidery made in a tambour frame called cross-stitch. The cross-stitch technique is the earliest form of hand embroidery, dating back to the Middle Ages, as far back as the sixth century BC. It is known that cross-stitch embroidery was popular during the period of 618-906 AD in China. It is very likely that it spread to West Asia and Europe along the Silk Road during this time. 

Cross-stitch is the easiest stitch technique, a double stitch diagonally crossing intersections of the horizontal and vertical threads of the fabrics. Any kind of thread can be used from fine cotton thread to thick wool threads.

Another traditional technique that inspired our designs is the centuries-old nomadic wrap embroidery made in a tambour frame or stitched by freehand needlework. Most nomads travel in groups of families, or tribes. These groups used to use wrap stitches to decorate their clothes by applying traditional patterns and shapes. They also used to tailor, patch, mend and reinforce clothes with the same embroidery technique.

We are inspired by the 3D feel of those embroidery techniques that were made with thick threads. Handmade applications make them unique, hence we have had the desire of giving a sense of handmade embroidery to our designs with the 3D effect with the help of the technology-machinery. We have created bolder textures in our embroideries with the raised embroidery technique inspired by both nomadic embroidery and the cross-stitch technique. It thus enabled us to transmit more emotion and volume through a needle and thread. Different needle movements help us to combine the inspired ideas from ancient times and the feelings together and create unique styling as a result.

We are proud to be part of this art form with its historical past and modern touch—it’s a way for us all to express ourselves without losing our locality in a globalizing world.