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Embroidery is the art of decorating fabric with a needle and thread. Embroidery ranges from simple decorative stitching at hemlines or mended areas to tapestries like the Opus Anglicanum.

There are two main categories of embroidery, and many more subcategories. Free embroidery is embroidery done without counting threads underneath. Counted embroidery involves each stitch covering a specific number of threads. Canvaswork is a type of counted embroidery that involves working on a mesh-like fabric, with stitches primarily made at natural openings in the fabric.

Free Embroidery

Crewelwork is surface embroidery using wool, and is often used as a type of needle-painting. The Bayeux Tapestry is the oldest intact example of crewelwork, with wool threads worked over a linen base.

Goldwork often falls under free embroidery, and is usually achieved via surface couching (with gold thread primarily staying on the top of the fabric, and stitched down with a less expensive thread.) The Opus Anglicanum contains goldwork.

Beaded embroidery is embroidery with beads. This ranged from small clusters of beads scattered across a garment to objects being encrusted with beads.

Smocking allowed hems to expand without the use of buttons or lacing before elastic.

Counted Embroidery

Blackwork is a type of counted embroidery with black threads (typically silk) worked over a white or un-dyed cloth. Scarletwork is done in the same style. These were often used to decorate chemises or smocks.

Assisi embroidery is a type of counted embroidery using primarily long-armed cross-stitch and double-running stitch. Motifs are usually outlined, but not filled in.

Drawn thread embroidery is a type of counted embroidery where the threads of the base fabric are stitched together to form patterns. Simple drawn thread embroidery can be seen in hem stitches, while Reticella lace is also achieved with drawn-thread embroidery.