Designers and interior decorators often suggest embroidery and patchwork wall hangings as an interesting addition to a room’s décor – a little colorful detail and texture almost always gives the space an extra dimension and intrigue. Though both embroidery and patchwork may look rather similar to the untrained eye, they happen to be quite different.
Embroidery comprises of fine hand work with cotton and silk threads on cloth, so densely fastened that they create intricate patterns in very slight relief.A designer’s paradise, embroidery was considered a sign of wealth and status in medieval times – and it still is just as precious. A plethora of colors and motifs, embroidered wall hangings draw you into a world of ethnicity and fantasy all at once.
Originating from parts of America, Europe and the Middle East, embroidery as a craft spread to the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia through trade. Flourishing in exclusive regional pockets, embroidery’s adaptable technique has been modified to suit cultural needs and motifs – European embroidery being dominated by floral patterns and primarily whites and pastels, Middle Eastern ones having elements borrowed from Islamic architectural decorations and the Indian Subcontinent thriving in bold colors, motifs of animals and narratives from Indian mythology.
Patchwork is fundamentally an applique technique, where boldly colored and decorated patterns are created on the surface of a cloth by sewing on other pieces of printed fabric. Used most commonly in quilting, patchwork wall hangings are the perfect balance between chic and eccentric, and you can do it yourself! Handy with a needle and thread? Dig through your old clothes and bed sheets, cut them up and you can sew together your own patchwork fabric.
With its roots in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, patchwork is now practiced in almost every part of the world. Be it for quilting, poufs and decorated wall hangings or sock puppets and cabbage patch dolls, you are bound to have come across it at least once in your lifetime.
The subtle applique relief of both these techniques also allows them to be used together; a plush patchwork surface with fine embroidery of golden zari and mirror work – a physical representation of pure royalty.
It has been established that these crafts themselves have an air of intrigue and luxury surrounding them and are bound to have a presence so commanding that they will set the mood for the whole room. That said, embroidered and patchwork wall hangings also have subtler influences on the décor – adding accents of color and texture without clashing with the existing furnishings, balancing off an unusually bright rug and pouf or telling a story from the past.
Embroidery and patchwork wall hangings have a unique attribute of bridging the gap between the traditional and the contemporary; rarely does a craft of the far past have such a large role to play in twenty-first century trends. Evolving with the times, the motifs and materials have changed to accommodate for the geometric and informal balance of today’s styles, yet retaining the glamour and imperial grandeur of lost empires.
Available in a variety of sizes and ranging from monochrome to contrasting hues, hang up a long row of patchwork elephants above a neutral or earth colored couch and no one will be able to look away – guaranteed. Want to break the horizontally of a low lying coffee table, lengthy bookshelves and reapers? A long and narrow wall hanging with bold colors will do the trick.
You can work the room’s décor the other way round as well; starting afresh and your first love happened to be a large exquisite embroidery and patchwork wall hanging? Put it up on the largest wall in the room, use that as the focal point to align all the furniture. Next, add delicate elements to balance it off – slight embroidery on the drapes, a couple of patchwork throw pillows or maybe a patchwork and embroidery pouf.
A home is a space which you have full freedom to make your own, don’t stray from that even for a second. Trends will come and go, but it is all about how you utilize them; work into your own sense of style a little of the old and a little of new – one or the other will fit for sure.