Hand vs. Machine – Side By Side

Before we get caught up too much in the vs, I’m not here to stir up debate between machine and hand embroidery, lord knows there’s a pot that can be stirred if it needs it. This is about an appreciation that each style can bring, and a look at what perhaps the strengths and merits of each technique are.

Though Urban Threads is very much a machine embroidery heavy company, we absolutely adore our hand stitchers and the personal touches they bring to our designs. In fact, it’s a bit of a rarity that you have designs that are available in both machine and hand formats. Since we just so happen to be that rarity, it offers us the unique treat of looking at these two similar and yet vastly different mediums through the same design.

So lets take a peek shall we, at all the wonderful ways the same design can be brought to life in thread…

Craft or Die Hand by crafty dame —- Craft of Die Machine by kai anja

Steampunk Mermaid Hand by megmormel —- Steampunk Mermaid Machine by sew fun doll clothes

Attitude Hand by Kim —- Attitude Machine by Renate

Zombie Duckie Hand by Caine, Fleur du Mal —- Zombie Duckie Machine by ChristiDL

Free Monster Hand by 1.2.Stitcharoo —- Free Monster Machine by AlexisSmith1977

Dia De Los Muertos Hand by JBirren —- Dia De Los Muertos Machine by Urban Threads

Green Man Hand by RalRay Embroidery —- Green Man Machine by 28 Sides Designs

Machine embroiders, if you’ve only ever watched your machine stitch out designs, there’s a whole world out there of experimental stitches and creative fills for you to try, and perhaps a new therapeutic hobby to explore. Hand embroiderers, if you haven’t gotten a chance to jump on a machine, you can see how the advantages of speed and stitch density make it a technique that is very friendly for anyone to bring about lush results, and that each person still brings their own unique touch to their creation.

Everyone has something amazing to bring to the table. What do you like about each? How do you think these designs compare? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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16 Responses to “Hand vs. Machine – Side By Side”

  1. 1
    Karen Wilson (Timewrinkler) says:

    Wow…they all look great. In my mind, hand-stitching is kind of like the process of digitizing: With both, you get to pick how any specific area of the design will look by choosing different stitch techniques for that area. In that respect, hand-stitching may be a tad bit more creative, being as the machine embroidery design has the techniques already decided for us (although we still get to pick the colors!).
    As for me, I will always do machine embroidery, whether it be buying a design, or creating my own. There are two main reasons for this: I personally prefer the look of machine embroidery, and I don’t have the eyesight or patience for hand-stitching. I have immense respect for both art forms, however!

  2. 2
    jeanne e. says:

    amazing…i am a hand stitcher and will be for a while to come, mainly because i simply enjoy it and it fits my budget right now (which is next to nothing, these days). 😉 i have to admit, i hadn’t much thought about machine embroidery as an art form, really only thinking of it terms of having logos put on shirts or hats, until i started buying hand patterns through UT. and now, with the UT blog and Flickr, i see so much versatility and creativity with machine stitching. some of the finished pieces i see really blow my mind. and i love it. and while i like the quirkiness of hand stitching, i won’t ever close the door to doing machine stitching in the future.

    • Sherry Hosmer says:

      I’ve been a long time hand embroidery fan. Have you checked out the octihoops @octihoops.com. I recently boughta set. It’s amazing what can be done with them. The claim is machine embroidery with any straight stitch machine even a treadle.

  3. 3
    Nancy Svinicki says:

    UT, I can’t thank you enough for this post! Though I’m a hand-stitcher, much love for you machine gals and guys too! <3<3<3

  4. 4
    Rachel says:

    Oh my word, I LOVE that hand-stitched green man! Beautiful work! Some exquisite stuff here…

  5. 5
    Laq says:

    I like the uniqueness in hand stitching. I wish I could have that much controll over machine stitching. I can’t hand stich due to carpel tunnel – and lack of talent / patience- but those make me wish I could. What I like best is the outline options, as often the density is to “hard” for many applications.

    Amazing work.

  6. 6

    i think the green man is so much cooler done with applique – it just gives it such great dimension!! i’m loving it so much! i don’t even really like the original design that much (meanin _no_ disrespect – and i do love the IDEA) but the hand embroidery takes the whole design to the next level and is so cool.

    as always, thank you so much for sharing! i love your posts – you always bring something new and cool to my attention when blogging about it. (i actually have advertised this blog to many many people who are into crafts, just because this blog shows new things and gives great ideas)

    ok, i’ll shut up now. basic finnish behaviour – first time i’m posting a comment and i ramble on for two pages…


  7. 7
    Micahael says:

    I prefer hand stitching to machine, even though I do think some designs look better when they are machine embroidered. I like hand stitching because one can see the creative choices and process of the person stitching.

  8. 8
    SueB says:

    They are all cool, but I do like the machine embroidery the best on all of them but the Grren Man. The hand appliqué is wonderful on that piece with great detail.

  9. 9
    Cecily says:

    I love the process of hand embroidery and it’s very zen (as long as your threads don’t knot), but I love the speed and durability of machine embroidery (since I can just toss that in the wash and not worry about warping). I can’t wait to be able to have an embroidery machine again (not to mention makes xmas gifts a total breeze)

  10. 10
    nadine says:

    i do both but what i especially like to do is incorporate some hand work, whether its ribbon or stumpwork, with my machine work. i love both ways but machine fits into my time restraints better sometimes. Both are art forms all om their own 🙂

  11. 11
    Julie says:

    I really appreciate being able to see examples side by side and you are correct that it is very unusual to be able to purchase patterns in either format. I have always embroidered by hand but do some relatively complicated machine applique. I’m more likely to someday invest in machine embroidery because of UT and the talented users. I love the comment about mixed techniques and would love to see that!

  12. 12
    Brenda says:

    I only do hand embroidery and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your designs. Hand work makes me think of my grandma and great grandma. They taught me all i know. While machine embroidery realy isnt my bag i envey those that can embroider leather and other fabrics not suited to hand work.

  13. 13
    Lexi says:

    Love them all. My favourites in each are the colours and texture rather than hand or machine, although I mostly machine these days. thanks for the wonderful designs. I was looking for something different. so glad you came along?

  14. 14
    Julie says:

    I am a machine embroidery. But am totally blown away by the talent of the hand embroiderer. I have not the talent or the patience required for this hence I cheat and get my machine to do it. But I guess the one thing we have in common is the LOVE of URBAN THREADS. Your designs are amazing, unique, stylish, different and beautiful.

  15. 15

    […] …  If you want to see some really great examples of hand vs machine embroidery and how they are both just amazing, please visit Urban Threads’ blog post. […]

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