Philippine embroidery

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Philippine embroidery is an art used in decorating textiles which was brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards.


Needlework was considered an important accomplishment for women and was part of the curriculum in girls’ schools throughout Spanish times. Embroidery was used to embellish household linens and clothing then, and stitched pictures were also made. Sometimes hairs were used as thread in such pictures, giving the look of fine pen lines.

Traditional Philippine embroidery

Different methods of embroidery or decorative sewing arts were subsequently developed by the Filipinos. Many of them continue to be practiced today, especially in Lumban, Laguna and in Taal, Batangas. Among these traditional embroidery methods are:

  • Calado (piercing) is a method of decorating a textile by pulling out threads from certain areas, reinforcing other areas and sewing them together to make intricate lacy designs.
  • Sombrado is a method in which curvilinear patterns are appliquéd to thin cloth to make silhouette designs.


Javellana, Rene. “Philippine Forms” in Filipino Style. Singapore: Editions Didier Mitllet, 1999.