A recent survey has revealed that border embroidery is the most popular style in the UK. The research, which was conducted by embroidery pattern experts Design Bundles, analysed the average volume of Google searches that various embroidery styles have to find the ten highest-ranking styles.

Border embroidery has an average of 2,900 Google searches each month, which is just under 35,000 searches per year. This is the only style to have reached an average of over 2,000 online searches per month, according to the data that was collected in November and December 2021 and January 2022.

There are various types of border styles that can be used to decorate fabrics and garments, including threaded running stitch, whipped backstitch and herringbone ladder. Backstitch is also a popular border stitch as it creates a solid line, which can be made thicker or thinner depending on the thread that you use.

Hand embroidery is a popular way to finish off the edges of a blanket or garment, as the decorative lines are both aesthetically pleasing and make the edges of the fabric look neater. Blanket stitch is, as the name suggests, a popular border stitch for blankets as it reinforces the edges of the fabric and acts as a decorative finish for the unhemmed edges.

Top embroidery styles in the UK

After border embroidery, Google analytics revealed that sashiko was the second most popular embroidery style in the UK, with an average of 1,000 online searches per month.

Sashiko embroidery originated in Japan around 400 hundred years ago. The style involves a simple running stitch that is used to create intricate patterns. A running stitch is used to create air pockets between two layers of fabric, which keeps the garment wearer warm.

This was a technique used by poor Japanese families as a way to keep warm throughout the year. The technique also helped prolong the lifespan of the clothing so that multiple people could wear them. The embroidery technique commonly features pale thread on indigo fabric, as the dye was cheap and Japanese women could embroider in the evening when the contrasting colours made the work easier to see.

Blackwork and crewel embroidery are in joint third place with an average of 880 online searches each month from November 2021 to January 2022.

As with sashiko embroidery, blackwork is a traditional embroidery style that has been practised for hundreds of years. It became popular in the UK thanks to Catherine of Aragon, the Spanish queen who brought the artform over when she married Henry VIII in the 1500s.

Blackwork uses black thread on pale fabric, although other colours such as blue and gold embroidery thread are also popular. This embroidery technique was traditionally used to decorate garments for both men and women, creating a faux lace effect. Embroiderers tend to use repeated geometric designs to fill a much larger shape.

This type of embroidery, as well as other styles, can be done using a template that is drawn onto the fabric. It gives embroiderers something to follow and helps their work to look uniform and neat. The patterns can be drawn on with chalk or by using heat transfer pens. You should only use pens if you are able to cover up the template with stitches because the pen won’t wash out. When using light or thin fabric, you can also use a basic pencil to trace your patterns.

Crewel embroidery is different from other styles because of the materials that it requires. It requires crewel thread, which is a 2-ply wool thread that creates thickness and texture to standard embroidery stitches. Crewel thread doesn’t separate into smaller strands as standard cotton floss does and it is also thinner than tapestry wool.

The fifth most popular embroidery style in the UK is bead embroidery. It is subject to an average of 720 Google searches every month, which is an average of 2,180 fewer searches per month than the most popular embroidery style. The technique involves sewing beads onto a background fabric to create patterns, such as floral motifs.

You have to use special thread for bead embroidery, such as nylon thread or fishing line-type thread. These types of thread are more durable than the traditional style and will hold your beads better. This embroidery style also requires beading needles, which are strong enough to pass through thicker types of fabric such as leather.

The table below shows the top five most googled embroidery styles and the average volume of searches that they receive each month.

Style Average number of online searches (Nov 2021 – Jan 2022)
Border Embroidery 2,900
Sashiko Embroidery 1,000
Blackwork Embroidery 880
Crewel Embroidery 880
Bead Embroidery 720

What are popular stitches in embroidery?

The embroidery styles mentioned above incorporate lots of different stitches to make each pattern. Some of the most popular stitches include:

  • satin stitch – a series of flat stitches that form a block
  • stem stitch – overlapping stitches in a long line
  • fly stitch – two horizontal stitches and a vertical stitch that form a V shape
  • split stitch – a fine line of stitches that are used to outline shapes
  • cross stitch – two stitches that cross each other
  • detached chain stitch – a threaded stitch that continuously loops over itself
  • feather stitch – a zig-zag stitch
  • whip stitch – overcast stitches used on the edge of fabric
  • french knots – thread is wound around the needle and through the fabric to form a dot

The back, running and straight stitches are simple enough to pick up and are therefore favoured by embroidery beginners. Some of the more complex stitches include the bullion and the couching stitch. These stitches can be used together, or you can stick to one type, as is the case with sashiko and blackwork embroidery which only use running stitches and back stitches.

You can create ornamental needlework pieces by using a mixture of these stitches to create images and geometric patterns onto fabric. The various stitches can create different textures and add depth to an otherwise 2-D design. Another way to add variation to your pattern is to use different coloured threads or threads with varying thicknesses.

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