Embroidery Hoop

Embroidery has been around for as long as humans have been in existence. There have even been fossilized remains of hand-stitched clothing, boots, and hats in Siberia. Shell embroidery dates back to 6,000 BC while Chinese thread embroidery dates to 3,500 BC. With elaborate embroidery machine designs and other automation, embroidery has come a long way. Here is a brief timeline of the evolution of automated embroidery.

The Early Days of Automation

While hand-crafted embroidery played a major role in the decorations of clothing, religious objects, and household items throughout the world, the first automation of embroidery came about during the 19th century. It marked the first time mass production could be used to make elaborate clothing. A single machine, it is reported, could do the work of four hand stitch embroiderers, and the output was much more uniform.


The next hallmark moment in automated embroidery happened in the 1880s, when printed color patterns were introduced. Automation also made bead embroidery popular as it was much quicker to use a machine to do it than to laboriously stitch each bead by hand.

Early 1900s

The production output of the embroidery machine was further enhanced with the invention of the first multi-head embroidery machine. This allowed a single station to produce multiple pieces of work at once.


By the 1980s, computers had taken over much of the automation process, and embroidery production evolved once again. The number of units that could be produced increased and the potential complexity of embroidered designs broadened.

Computerization led to the introduction of the first graphic design system that was managed by a microcomputer and allowed for printable machine embroidery designs. This development was introduced by the companies Wilcom and Melco, with Wilco introducing the first graphic design system and Melco creating the first embroidery sample head and digitized system. Both of these creations made embroidery popular on a factory basis and for personal use at home. During this time, designers trying to figure out where to buy embroidery patterns had an easier time, as the production of affordable, pre-manufactured designs were made possible.

Embroidery Machine

The Quest for Efficiency, Speed, and Quality

New technology has once again reengineered embroidery. Machines made now are faster, more accurate, and include more needles per head, greater flexibility with attachments, and laser-guided stitching and cutting. All of this has also been enhanced by production management software, making the manufacturing process even more efficient.

Today’s Developments

Most of the developments in embroidery technology over the past 30 years have focused on precision, quality, speed, and cost reduction. That trend continues. New innovations like the introduction of embroidery heads that can all run independently of each other as well as have bobbins changed independently are just one example. Greater thread control is another quality enhancement, and automatic tension management ensures uniformity of patterns.

Embroidery has come a long way since the days of stitching shells to animal hides. Every few years, it seems, new technology changes the very way things are done. That trend shows no sign of stopping. To shop for the best embroidered designs you can find, visit Oregon Patchworks online today!



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