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Stumpwork is a style of embroidery where the stitched figures are raised from the surface of the work to form a 3-dimensional effect.
Stitches can be worked around pieces of wire to create individual forms such as leaves, insect wings or flower petals. This form is then applied to the main body of work by piercing the background fabric with the wires and securing tightly. Other shapes can be created using padding under the stitches, usually in the form of felt layers sewn one upon the other in increasingly smaller sizes. The felt is then covered with a layer of embroidery stitches.
A modern-day subcategory of this art form used primarily in production embroidery on automated embroidery machines is referred to as puff embroidery. The process involves putting down, typically, a layer of foam rubber larger than the intended shape on top of the target material to be decorated. The shape is then embroidered on top of the foam rubber in such a way that the needle penetrations cut the foam rubber around the periphery of the shape. When the embroidery is finished the excess foam rubber is weeded (pulled away or cleaned off) from the design area, leaving the underlying foam rubber shape trapped under the embroidery stitches resulting in a stumpwork effect.
Puff embroidery generally lacks the intricate design characteristics obtainable with true stumpwork techniques and is primarily seen on leisure wear such as baseball caps, sweatshirts and jackets. Many times the designs are used to portray company logos or team mascots.
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