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Types of Embroidery

What are all the Different Types of Embroidery?

Disclaimer: This post has some affiliate links in it. I receive a small commission from purchases at no additional cost to the buyer. I only recommend products I would use and are of good quality.

Frequently, I get asked, “what is it that you do again?”. There are so many different types of embroidery techniques that it can get really confusing to remember what the correct term is for a particular style. If you’re looking to learn more about different types of needlecrafts, then look no further! Maybe you’ll even find something in this article that you’ll want to try out.

What is Embroidery?

Hand embroidery or surface embroidery is the embellishment of fabrics or garments with embroidery stitches (i.e. back stitch, running stitch, satin stitch, the list goes on and on.) This is one of the most common forms of embroidery that people do these days and it’s the style of embroidery I do the most.

Looking to learn hand embroidery? I teach classes online and I also have a blog post linked below that goes in depth with resources, tools, and tricks to learn how to embroider.

Crewel Work

crewel work
A beautiful piece of crewel work I found at the thrift store.

Crewel embroidery, or crewelwork uses wool fibers and yarns for the thread, but it uses the same types of stitches surface embroidery uses. Crewel embroidery has a bit more texture and dimension to it because the wool thread is thicker than cotton floss that is generally used with embroidery.

Cross Stitch

Cross stitch uses aida fabric, a stiff even-weave fabric with holes in it. It uses a series of cross stitches and sometimes back stitches and is worked on a grid or graph format. This type of embroidery is a type counted thread embroidery form, which is less free form than hand embroidery. Cross stitch pieces are more uniform looking because of the even-weave fabric, and the stitches are completely even. Check out this blog post all about learning how to cross stitch which includes a free pattern you can stitch along to!

Huck Embroidery

huck embroidery

Huck embroidery is done on huckaback toweling and uses a darning stitch. Cotton floss and a blunt needle are normally used, and geometric patterns are commonly created with this style of embroidery.

Drawn Thread Embroidery

drawn thread embroidery

Drawn thread embroidery uses even-weave fabric and is another form of counted thread embroidery. Portions of the rows of thread in a piece of fabric are cut or “drawn out” and then reworked into the fabric, leaving holes. Groups of threads are left which are then stitched or woven together to form intricate patterns. Resources are somewhat slim for this type of embroidery, as it is a very old art form, but I found this beginner’s guide to drawn thread that might be worth checking out!

Pulled Thread Embroidery

pulled thread

This is another counted thread embroidery style that involves creating patterns with stitches that pull the weave of the fabric, which then forms holes in the fabric. Contrary to drawn thread, this technique doesn’t involve cutting or removing thread. To learn more information between drawn thread and pulled thread, Nordic Needle has a good article.



Cutwork embroidery involves cutting holes or shapes into fabric and using stitches (such as a hem stitch pictured here) to decorate the border of the hole and prevent fraying.


sashiko embroidery

Originating from Japan, this form of embroidery, this uses a running stitch to decorate fabric. A dark fabric and light thread color is normally used. I think it looks so minimal and pretty! This Skillshare class goes into how to create your own Sashiko project.


This type of embroidery is more three-dimensional. There are a variety of raised embroidery stitches that are used for this tyle of embroidery to add depth and texture to it. Wire is normally used to create elements that literally pop off of the fabric!



This type of embroidery is another counted thread embroidery technique that, like the name, traditionally uses black thread on white fabric. Blackwork embroidery uses repeating patterns
This website has a ton of information and patterns that I’d love to try!

thread painting

Thread Painting

Thread painting, also known as needle painting, is a a form of fine embroidery that has characteristics similar to painting. This technique can achieve a very realistic look. Check out this blog post all about how to thread paint if you’d like to learn more.


needlepoint coasters

This type of embroidery uses a canvas with holes in it. There are fabric and plastic canvases you can use. Since the holes in the canvas are much larger than tighter weave fabrics, yarn is typically used. Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework explains that “All needlepoint stitches are worked in conformity with the grid-like structure of the canvas”.

Punch Needle

punch needle

Punch needle is definitely reemerging and I can definitely tell why! It’s beautiful and really fun to do. This involves using a punch needle tool and an even weave fabric, such as monks cloth. Depending on the size of your punch needle tool and the size of your fabric’s holes, you can use different weights of threads and yarns. Your finished product creates kind of a chunky look made from the loops of thread your punch needle creates.

Start learning how to do punch needle.

Ribbon Embroidery

ribbon rose

Ribbon embroidery uses silk or satin ribbon to embellish fabric. This style of embroidery is unique because it is more 3 dimensional and is a beautiful way to embroider flowers. You can use a variety of normal surface embroidery stitches but there are also a few extra techniques for folding and positioning the ribbon that is unique to this type of embroidery.

Hardanger Embroidery


This is a type of counted thread embroidery that involves drawn thread techniques and cut work. It is worked on even weave fabric and most frequently uses white Perle cotton thread. A series of Kloster blocks are made, which are essentially grouped together satin stitches and squares of the fabric are cut out, forming elaborate patterns.

Learning New Forms of Needlecrafts

The list I’ve created isn’t even ALL of the different kinds of embroidery art, but I tried my best to include as many as possible. I am not an expert in all of these different forms of embroidery, but I really like to try out each one of them at least once. I absolutely love finding new embroidery books to use as resources, and some of the best ones are older books.

Here’s a list of some of my favorites that cover most, if not all of the different types listed above:

Continue reading more about embroidery:

types of embroidery

Margaret sinclair

Wednesday 20th of March 2019

I’ve been creating handwork my entire life. My sister has some pillow slips with blue embroidered puppies on them that I gave to her when I was probably 6 or so. Crewel, needlepoint, cross stitch, knitting, sewing, etc. in the last 10 years or so I’ve moved on to beading, and began my own making my own sterling beaded jewelry. Now I’m needlepainting and dying fabric. It has been not so much a passion but an integral part of my life. I’m never not doing something with thread and cloth. To such a degree that I’m not even aware that I’m always doing it. A journey of constant wealth.


Thursday 21st of March 2019

I love this! I totally agree. I love all things needlecraft and fiber art and love challenging myself with new skills. That's so awesome! <3

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