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Chain Stitch And Crewel Furnishing

Chain stitch and crewel is one of the famous handicrafts from Kashmir where a specific kind of embroidery is done by using a pointed hook. This embroider is done from one point and rotates around to create an embossed effect on the upholstery and drapery. This beautiful form of embroidery is done by skilled locals of Kashmir to add richness to the textile. It is famous all over the world due to its quality and uniformity of stitches. The unique feature of this embroidery is that it is free style and doesn’t need any counts as in cross stitch. This embroidery is done with wool and is usually done on tightly woven fabrics like linen and cotton. Crewel embroidery will transform any simple texture to the silkiest texture that has luster and feel better than silk. The chain stitch is mainly n the form of flower motifs embossed on the white colored fabric that may offer the calm and rich look to the curtains and other furnishing.


Crewel got its name from wool which is the yarn being used for the crewel embroidery. Some sources also reveal that the name crewel was derived from the word “Krua” or “Clew” which mean a ball of yarn. There are different beliefs about Crewel embroidery getting its name but all the sources reveals that it something to do with yarn. This technique has very rich history dating back to around 1st Century BC. The art got its fame and recognition only in 16th and 17th century. Later on many different embroidery styles emerged and many of them found their place in India and abroad but the popularity of Crewel and chain stitch didn’t fade at all. The crewel embroidery in earlier times was done only with wool and the fabric used was linen but later on many other yarns and fabrics were involved in the crewel embroidery.


The crewel embroidery which is similar to the chain stitch is done in the embossed pattern in mostly floral designs. White colored fabric is used traditionally for this embroidery. The fabric is first washed and ironed to get an even surface on the fabric and also to avoid any shrinkage in future. The design for embroidery needs to be printed on the fabric before starting any needle work. The design is screen printed on the fabric and many other stencil printing techniques are also developed. The temporary printing on the fabric can also be done with a pricking method where the dotted outline is formed by pricking through the design printed on the paper. Once the design is fixed, the crewel embroidery is carried out from centre to the outline to form velvet like finish. The special needle is used for crewel embroidery. Most of these chain stitch tasks are carried out with the help of hook which is also known as “ari”. The frame or hoop is the prime requirement for this kind of embroidery as it tightens the fabric. This embroidery may be required to be done with both the hands and hence a large rectangular frame is used for large piece of work. These rectangular frames are the part of the furniture for any Kashmiri household.

Chain Stitch and Crewel furnishing Products

The chain stitch and crewel furnishing has expanded its reach from just small fabric embroidery to the large textile rolls used for furnishing. This crewel fabric is usually available in the 25 meter and 29 meter textile rolls. The width of this fabric may be 52” or 54”. The price of the fabric is decided based on the amount of embroidery or the density of the embroidery. This famous art has found its place in bedspreads, throws, cushion covers, duvet covers, Shams, curtain drops, upholstery and drapery. The bedspreads are available for single bed and also for king size double bed. This traditional Kashmiri art has got recognition all over the world due to its fine hand work that is also done on the rugs and wall hanging.

Chain Stitch and Crewel Furnishing Care

Chain stitch and crewel embroidery should be done only on the framed fabric as it offers distortion free embroidery. While carrying out the embroidery, it is important to unscrew the fabric from the frame after every embroidery session to protect the fabric from permanent frame marks. The crewel embroidery is usually carried out with wool, cotton or silk yarn that has very fast colors as the base of these furnishing is mostly white. The chain stitch and crewel furnishing doesn’t need much care as other forms of embroidery as it is done with too much care and precision to offer long lasting effect. The washing instructions are usually given along with the crewel fabric but most of these fabrics can be washed by hand and doesn’t need professional help.

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