The History of Embroidery and Custom Apparel

The History of Embroidery and its Part in Custom Apparel


Embroidery is something that we take for granted when it comes to custom apparel and clothing design as a whole. For example, you are going to be more likely to see people who go into classes for graphic design so they can make clothing, not sewing classes. In fact, even as a hobby, people don’t seem to talk about embroidery that much.  But it is part of almost every type of upscale and sports clothing that you can imagine.  So, where did this practice come from? How culturally significant is it? Is there a chance that it will have an impact in the future of custom apparrel in Decatur, AL? Let’s find out.

embroidery, custom apparel

 The Beginnings of Embroidery


In the case of embroidery, it has been around for a very long time. Almost as far back as the prehistoric age. According to a couple of sources, “Recently-found remains of hand-stitched and decorated clothing, boots, and hats show that embroidery was used by Cro-Magnons back in 30,000 BCE. Examples of hand embroidery have been found in Siberia and China as well, dating from between 5,000 and 3,500 BCE.”

From there, the trail leads back to Ancient Egypt, where metallic threads were all the rage. In fact, the oldest surviving cloth with this type of metallic thread was in Tutankahmun’s original tomb. That dates it a little older than 1323 years before we started counting forward in time.

Afterward, the Silk Road made it a central trading hub for embroidered fabrics. Those fabrics combined with ancestral technique of clothing embellishment mark the earliest instance of Europe doing their own embroidery at 1000 CE at the earliest.  “At this time, Christianity was spreading across many countries — many churches and high clergymen made a point to commission embroidered garments, wall hangings, and tablecloths as a demonstration of their wealth.”

This is the point of  human history where custom apparel and embroidery were a luxury. After all, embroidery, or any type of clothing embellishment is a labor intensive task, and is not a basic necessity for living.  However, this wouldn’t last forever.


The Industrial Revolution and  Embroidery for Custom Apparel


Embroidery was an artistic labor of love, a very long term endeavor that required special hands and concentration. This made embroidered clothing, for either wear or decoration, an item that was only available for the wealthy.

However, this changed when the economy switched over to machine labor. Custom apparell made with cheaper materials became the norm for the rising middle class and the skill of embroidering itself became more of a hobby. So, instead of a time and labor intensive applique that made for only the finest silks, it was a fun activity that every mother would teach their daughter to do. Even a few men picked up the hobby and made a few good pieces of their own.

Today, machines can do most of the work with more speed and precision compared people who have done needlecraft their whole lives. This shifted the idea of what makes embroidery valuable.  Logo work and mass production has often made embroidery cheap. However, more ornate, hand made peices still bring in a lot of value depending how complex or large the cloth.


Machine Embroidery of Custom Apparell Today


Today’s state of machine embroidery for custom apparel is its own age. Another embroiderer describes it as,

“As far as machine embroidery goes, there are two types commonly used today. The first is free motion embroidery, which uses a basic zigzag sewing machine to create designs. Skilled machine operators are needed to create these types of designs. The second type of machine embroidery is computerized embroidery, which is often used for commercial purposes. In computerized embroidery, the machine reads an embroidery design file and automatically stitches the design onto fabric. If you order embroidered shirts or other promotional products for your business, it’s likely they’ll be embroidered using a computerized machine.”

While maybe some of the technique has changed depending on culture or what materials are available, the embellishment of clothing, especially via embroidery is something that continues to endure today.

So, if you want to consider it for your custom clothing, you can probably get it done in bulk for the right people at the right price.

If you are looking for someone to help with custom apparel in Decatur, Al, contact us at Entrusted Tees! If you want to read more stuff like this, check out our blog at


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