Hand vs Machine Embroidery

May 31, 2018

Also worth reading: Kashmiri Embroidery

It is not hard to guess that machine embroidery costs much less than hand embroidery for the basic reason that it uses a machine to do the embroidery. What is hard and almost IMPOSSIBLE to tell is how to make out the difference between the two, if one does not have the necessary experience.
To see for yourself, take a look at the 2 shawls below and try to figure out which one is Hand Embroidered and which is Machine Embroidered?

 

Not sure? Here are a few tests to help find out if the Embroidery is done by Machine or Hand. Before going ahead we would like to point out the comparison of prices for Hand Embroidered and Machine Embroidered items in similar types of embroidery:

Item Machine Embroidery Cost Hand Embroidery Cost
SHORT JACKET US$ 30-40 US$ 125-150
SHAWL US$ 40-50 US$ 145-165
LONG JACKET US$ 50-60 US$ 175-210
PONCHO US$ 15-18 US$ 45-60
DRESSING GOWN US$ 40-50 US$ 120-140


As you can see the price difference is enormous. It would therefore be proper to say that the buyer well informed, is the one who will buy smart - whether the item bought is Machine Embroidered or Hand Embroidered.

A Machine Embroidered jacket costs around 25% of its Hand Embroidered counterpart, but will sell comparatively higher because it was advertised as a Hand Embroidered jacket.

How to spot the differences:
Test 1. A LOOK AT THE WRONG SIDE: This is helpful only for items which don't have a lining (like Crewel Fabric, Shawls and Throws, Silk Sarees, Salwar Kameez, Kurtas/ Tunics). A first look at the wrong side will reveal clearly if the item is embroidered by hand or machine. Machine embroidery is a continuous stitching process and employs multi-colored thread for embroidery. It therefore has continuity in stitches with very few breaks. Hand-stitch on the contrary employs single-color threads for embroidery and the craftsman from time to time breaks off the earlier thread (color) to start a new thread (color) leaving behind a trail of threads hanging on the wrong side of the fabric.
Hand embroidery leaves a lot of threads hanging on the wrong side
Machine embroidery leaves very few threads hanging on the wrong side
Test 2. A LOOK AT THE TRUE SIDE: This test will require some good experience regarding familiarity with machine-stitch and hand-stitch.

Hand embroidery is tidy with good variety of colors.

Notice the ascending shoot (brown color) with its curves imparted by skilled hands.

Machine embroidery overlaps.

The shoot (brown color) here is more of straight line type and overlapping onto the leaves (green color).



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