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I Can Do Wonders with Textiles!

Updated: Oct 5, 2022

Modification/Manipulation Techniques in Textile Crafts

What are Textile Crafts?

Textile crafts comprises of manipulation of yarns or fabrics for construction of functional or decorative end-products. Since apparel is the most prominent products made of yarns and fabrics, this category is often used as synonym with textiles. It is important here to understand that textile crafts can be utilised to make a wide range of products that are either used as accessories in apparel or can be used for completely non-apparel purposes like toys, home décor and much more. Textile craft techniques can be broadly classified into two categories: Yarn manipulation & fabric manipulation.

· Yarn Manipulation: Weaving, Knitting, Crochet, Macrame, Tatting, Rug-making, Braiding etc.

· Fabric Manipulation: Sewing, Embroidery, Quilting, Applique, Patchwork, Dyeing, Printing & Painting

Apart from classifying them in terms of yarn and fabric manipulation, these techniques can also be classified as constructional techniques and surface enhancement techniques.


Knitting is a process of yarn manipulation where a single supply of yarn is interloped to make a fabric. It is a constructional technique that can be practiced by hand-knitting or machine knitting. Hand-knitting is usually done by the help of two long needles and one or more supply of yarn. The interloping can be manipulated in various ways to ensure different designs knitted in the fabric. Hand-knitting has been traditionally used for making jumpers/sweaters out of wool yarn as the technique is gentle enough to be used for delicate yarns. Similarly, machine knitting is done on industrial frames and is one of the fastest techniques of fabric construction. Knitting is the most wide-spread alternate of weaving. Machine knitted fabrics are lighter in weight and open in texture thus more breathable. Machine knitted fabrics are also called Hosiery fabrics. These fabrics are softer and have higher crease resistance than woven fabrics. For this reason, machine knitted fabrics are frequently used in intimate wear and casual wear like t-shirts.


Macrame is a knotting technique where mostly 3 or more sets of yarns are required to achieve a knot. The constructional technique is completely based on clever manipulation of knots to produce patterned ropes or a wide network of knotted yarns that looks like an open fabric.

macrame keychains flat and twisted rope
Macrame keychains

Since knots are rounder and 3-dimensional in nature, this craft practice is largely used for utility and garden textiles and less seen in intricate textiles. The technique is widely used for creating utility products with yarns and cords. The technique can be effectively used for creating patterned ropes and open textiles for made-ups like planter-holders, book-holders, wrist bands, keychains etc.

Crochet, Tatting/ Lace making

These interesting yarn-manipulation crafts are the mother of lace-work and were extensively practiced few decades back when machine-made laces and edgings were not widely available. While both these are yarn based constructional techniques, the equipment used, technique and final expression is different in both of them. In tatting, the yarn is first wound over a boat shaped shuttle and then manipulated into a lace. Similarly, crochet uses a bent-hook needle to loop the yarn over itself. The lace-maker then cleverly manipulates the yarn; winding & knotting it over itself by skilful movement of shuttle or hooked needle. The techniques produce beautiful laces and edgings that can range over more than 10 meters. The process is painfully slow and requires huge skill & patience on the part of the designer.


Sewing is the most wide-spread fabric manipulation textile craft practiced around the world. It could also be one of the earliest textile crafts known to human beings. The technique efficiently converts a fabric into a 3-dimensional apparel or non-apparel end-product. While sewing can be widely classified into hand-sewing and machine sewing, it is not uncommon to come across products where most of the sewing is combination of machine and some delicate finishing completed by hand. The technique is a combination of tasks where first the fabric is cut in required sizes and shapes and then stitched together with needle and thread using hand-stitches or sewing machine. Although, the raw material required is a fabric, the technique would still classify as a constructional technique. More aspects of sewing have been discussed in some of the other blogs at .


One of the most widely used textile craft technique, embroidery is largely practiced on woven fabrics. Unlike, other techniques discussed before, this technique is largely used for surface enhancement. The process involves patterned movement of threads over a fabric where the threads are constantly alternating above and below the surface of the fabric.

hand embroidery stitches
Hand Embroidery Stitches

This is achieved by threading a embroidery needle with the desired yarn. This needle then becomes the carrier and master of the thread movement along the fabric / design pattern.

Embroidery can be broadly classified as machine and hand-embroidery depending upon the mode of application. Interestingly, every culture has developed it’s native set of embroideries which reflect the design patterns and ethos inherent to that specific culture. The technique has huge potential in terms of outcomes and is rightly termed as ’painting with the needle’. Most reference books on textiles, classify embroideries either on the basis of stitches or cultures.

Most common embroidery stitches that can be found in almost every traditional and contemporary work are: running, back, stem, satin, blanket / buttonhole, cross, feather, herringbone, weaving and interlacement.

Speaking culturally; Asian embroidery stitches could be very region specific like Kanthas, Phulkaris, Kasutis, Sindhi, Kachch, Kashida and many more. Some of the prominent European embroideries are Black-work, Pattern darning, Pulled-thread work, Smocking & Cutwork.


Quilting is another constructional technique that uses fabric as raw material. It is an art of combining layers of fabric together which are then stitched over with patterned stitching lines. Quilting can be done by both hand or machine, however machine stitched quilts are more commonly available.