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A Brief History of Commercial Embroidery_2

Sailors were often handy with needles, since they had to mend their own clothing or repair sails torn by battle or storm. They often embroidered designs on their shore-going clothing, stitching slogans or the names of their ships on hats or uniform sleeves to proclaim their allegiance to a particular sea-going community. They knew that embroidery imparts a classy look to uniforms or other branded products, such as backpacks, blankets, or ball caps.

Of course, all this fine work was done manually, with thread, needle, and poked fingers. Even the first embroidery shop in the US, established in New York in the 1840s, amounted to fifteen women stitching custom job orders by hand.

By 1875, however, embroidery machines from Switzerland had crossed the ocean into America. Machines that embroidered in larger quantities were invented in the early 1900s in Germany. The embroidery industry in the US was born on these European machines. Immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria formed the backbone of the US embroidery industry.

These machines were controlled by punched tape, similar to the punch cards that stored computer programs. In fact, the idea for computer punch cards comes from a French weaving machine invented in 1801 by Joseph Jacquard. While most modern embroiders use computers to control their digitized designs, the process of turning a graphic design into an embroidery pattern is still called punching.

The Second World War interrupted the evolution of new embroidery machines, since the factories were busy building war materials. Because of the war, no new embroidery machines were built between 1938 and 1953, when the first American made machines appeared.

Embroidery machines were still controlled by punched paper until the early 1980s when Wilcom introduced a computerized design system. As computers became more affordable and home systems became the norm, home embroidery machines also became more popular. A modern home user can buy a computer-controlled machine and the necessary digitizing software for less than $500 US.

However, big jobs such as corporate logo projects on jackets or other clothing are best served by multi-head commercial machines. Specialty houses that offer these services, such as Logo Concepts in Centerville, Utah, are a far cry from the medieval England, and Baroque Europe all embroidered clothing, religious objects, and household items as a mark of wealth and status.

Embroidered objects created for royalty were hand-decorated by skilled artisans. While princesses may have relied on sewing guilds and masters of the trade for fabulous ball gowns, hand embroidery is a traditional art form passed from generation to generation in many cultures. Many families have embroidered heirlooms preserved for many years as precious treasures.

A famous example of royal embroidery is the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The tapestry is 231 feet long. You need how many baseball caps? And you want a logo on each? No problem we embroidered the Norman Conquest. Incidentally, although called a tapestry, it is not. Tapestries are woven, but the Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth.

Sailors were often handy with needles, since they had to mend their own clothing or repair sails torn by battle or storm. They often embroidered designs on their shore-going clothing, stitching slogans or the names of their ships on hats or uniform sleeves to proclaim their allegiance to a particular sea-going community. They knew that embroidery imparts a classy look to uniforms or other branded products, such as backpacks, blankets, or ball caps.

Of course, all this fine work was done manually, with thread, needle, and poked fingers. Even the first embroidery shop in the US, established in New York in the 1840s, amounted to fifteen women stitching custom job orders by hand.

By 1875, however, embroidery machines from Switzerland had crossed the ocean into America. Machines that embroidered in larger quantities were invented in the early 1900s in Germany. The embroidery industry in the US was born on these European machines. Immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria formed the backbone of the US embroidery industry.

These machines were controlled by punched tape, similar to the punch cards that stored computer programs. In fact, the idea for computer punch cards comes from a French weaving machine invented in 1801 by Joseph Jacquard. While most modern embroiders use computers to control their digitized designs, the process of turning a graphic design into an embroidery pattern is still called punching.

The Second World War interrupted the evolution of new embroidery machines, since the factories were busy building war materials. Because of the war, no new embroidery machines were built between 1938 and 1953, when the first American made machines appeared.

Embroidery machines were still controlled by punched paper until the early 1980s when Wilcom introduced a computerized design system. As computers became more affordable and home systems became the norm, home embroidery machines also became more popular. A modern home user can buy a computer-controlled machine and the necessary digitizing software for less than $500 US.

However, big jobs such as corporate logo projects on jackets or other clothing are best served by multi-head commercial machines. Specialty houses that offer these services, such as Logo Concepts in Centerville, Utah, are a far cry from the teams of artisans who decorated royal clothing, but they still take a plain garment and add fine craftsmanship that makes it stand out with a personal statement of quality.



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