Designers Nexus

Schiffli (Schiffley)

  • Schiffli (Shifley) [shif-lee]

001-Schiffli-image1001-Schiffli-image2 001-Schiffli-image4

  1. Type of intricate embroidery mainly used to create lace and eyelet fabrics, where designs are sewn onto a base fabric (i.e.: netting for lace, cotton for eyelet) using a Schiffli embroidery machine. Schiffli embroidery is unique and desired since simple or complex designs can be created with three dimensional effects, multiple colored designs can be created simultaneously, and the entire width of fabric can be embroidered at once.
  2. Type of shuttle embroidery machine that uses a front thread and back thread (bobbin thread) which form a lock stitch (similar to that of a sewing machine) to embroider designs onto a base fabric. A Schiffli embroidery machine is 18 meters (approx. 19 ½ yards) wide and has over 1,000 needles, enabling it to embroider the entire width of fabric at once.

Related Terms (1., 2.): allover embroidery, chemical embroidery, guipure embroidery, embroidery on lace, eyelet, shuttle embroidery

HISTORY (2.): 1863: First Schiffli embroidery machine was invented by Isaak Groebli (Switzerland). Based on the same principle of the sewing machine, the Schiffli machine used continuously threaded needles (front threads) and a shuttle with a threaded bobbin (back thread), which formed a lock stitch. The shuttle looked similar to the hull of a sailboat (“Schiffli” in the Swiss dialect of German language means “little boat”, thus the name “Schiffli machine”). 1898: The automatic Schiffli machine invented by Isaak Groebli’s eldest son, enabling only one person (the inspector) instead of 2 to control the embroidery process.

Source: Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion p.194,,,, 

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