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A new trend is taking the tattoo world by storm, the embroidery tattoo. Featuring patterns that resemble real, needle-and-thread embroidery or cross-stitching, these tattoo designs remind us of patches you might find on a denim jacket in the 1990’s.
The trend took off in Dallas, Texas, with the work of tattoo artist Rogelio Vazquez. With over 20,000 followers, Vazquez’s designs are popping up all over Instagram, along with work by other artists. There are even German tattoo artists that have been doing this style of tattoo for the past five years!
What really characterizes an embroidery tattoo is the appearance of the thread in the design. Traditional embroidery is thick and opaque, with each strand clearly seen within the stitch work. In the tattoos, the colors are bright and vibrant, with any shading achieved in the same manner as an embroidered patch. This is the same in a cross-stitch design, where each individual x works as a detail of the cohesive whole.
Incredibly intricate and bright, you’ll soon see why these designs are rising in popularity!
Best Embroidery Tattoo Ideas & Inspiration
Peace, Love, and the Simpsons
Elaborate and colorful, this first example shows off the best of embroidery tattoos. You can see within each shape, particularly the background and the globe, the individual bands of “stitched” color. Each color is blocked and surrounded by a black outline, which is common in embroidered patches. Along the outer edge of the tattoo, you’ll see that the black outline curls in certain places to make it seem like thread.
A design often seen among embroidered pieces, roses look gorgeous on a pillow, jacket, or here as a tattoo. The use of the different tones creates beautiful shading, the gradation making the flower come alive. This tattoo’s size and shape makes it perfect for the forearm, but it would work nicely on the calf as well.
The movement and color shift in this embroidery tattoo design makes it seem as though the snake were alive. Using varying shades of purple and green give depth to the tattoo, while the white accents help to make the design clear. Going for the embroidery style with this design also makes the snakes more lifelike, as the texture inherent in this style mimics the natural skin of the snake.
Beautiful and deeply meaningful, this cool tattoo brings in elements of both short stitch and long stitch embroidery to create the design. Blue and golden yellow complement each other nicely, while the silver touches jump out. Using swirls in the background gives a fun visual contrast to the sharp lines in the rest of the tattoo while mimicking the clouds.
Hey Ho, Let’s Go!
Band emblems and symbols are common patch choices for jackets and jeans. Therefore, it makes sense to use a band as inspiration for an embroidery tattoo. Rather than put the patch on a jacket that might fade or rip, why not declare your musical allegiance with a patch on your arm?
A Touch of Psychology
Many might not recognize the symbolism of this tattoo, but the idea of a persona or a figurative mask comes from Carl Jung, the noted psychologist. Jung believed that people hide their true selves behind masks called personas in order to be accepted by society. With this tattoo design, the masks represent the idea of hiding or concealing your true personality, somewhat ironic as the tattoo is out there for all to see.
Luck O’the Irish
A beautiful four-leaf clover makes for a fun wrist tattoo, with the different green tones working together nicely. Outlining the design in white helps to make the tattoo pop while complementing the green hues. Finishing with the cross-stitch edge gives a nice touch and personal flair.
Born to Ride
This tattoo design takes inspiration from traditional biker patches, from the coloration to the skull and crossbones. Even the ragged edges of the design mimic the images found on the leather jackets of motorcyclists! The artist went out of their way to make this piece true to embroidery, adding in the stitch lines and following the shape of the star.
Black and Red Cross-Stitch
Simple and stunning, the cross-stitch on this elbow tattoo adds a fun element to the design. Such a design comes from traditional cross-stitch patterns seen on pillows and sweaters. These designs also carry sentiment for those whose grandparents used to cross-stitch, so this can be a sweet take on a tribute tattoo.
Bushel and a Peck
Adorably simple, this is such a cute way to do a romantic tattoo. Based on the song A Bushel and a Peck, the barrel of apples and the bag labeled peck symbolize the love this person has for someone else. The pretty jewel tones of the apples stand out nicely, and the choice to use both green and red apples helps to break up the design.
Who wouldn’t want everyone’s favorite anti-hero as a tattoo? In the embroidery style, Deadpool looks adorable and lethal, the stitch lines mimicking the patch style. Going for a light gray outline before the final edge makes the details pop, as the darker colors would be lost in the black. Time to make the…chimichangas!
Do You Want to Play a Game?
One of the creepier villains in the horror genre, Jigsaw haunted our nightmares ever since the first Saw film. If you’re looking for a dark tattoo, this will do the trick! Using the embroidery tattoo method and the chibi art style softens the character while still making his purely devilish.
While these beloved Marvel characters like Captain America have been around for decades, the Avengers films have skyrocketed their popularity. Therefore, it makes sense that these tattoos designs have been spotted more as well. Using the embroidery tattoo style fits with the idea of a vintage patch on a jacket, backpack, or even lunchbox of kids gone by. Transforming the old-school patch into a tattoo is a way to get back your inner child in an adult way.
Life Finds a Way
Speaking of kid’s gear, what 90’s kid wasn’t familiar with this classic logo? T-shirts, backpacks, lunchboxes, school supplies…Jurassic Park was everywhere! On some of this paraphernalia, patches came embroidered exactly like this tattoo design, down to the careful stitching of the lettering. With this embroidery tattoo look, the bold statement of the logo returns just like those classic badges that we loved so!
A symbol of purity, enlightenment, and spirituality, the lotus blossom has long been a popular tattoo choice. Interpreting the lotus into an embroidery tattoo makes perfect sense, as many cultures that revere the lotus put great stock into needlework and embroidery. These colors work nicely together as well, with the lavender and pale pink in the middle standing out against the deeper purple of the background.
This adorable bowl of ramen makes for a fun and fantastic sidepiece. The embroidery tattoo art makes the design stand out against the other tattoos in the model’s collection. Additionally, this particularly tattoo looks like a badge you might find on someone’s bag or pencil case. This tattoo is a great way to remember those crazy college days when ramen was your staple food and the people with which you shared it!
Coming right off a jersey or fan’s spirit wear, this bright shield is the emblem for the Spanish fútbol club of Barcelona. The embroidery tattoo look makes perfect sense in this instance, as the design emulates what you might find on an actual player’s garb. Additionally, this style makes the colors, particularly the lighter ones, stand out bold and proud. A great way to show your love for your favorite sport’s team, no matter the sport!
Smaller tattoos are particularly popular among shoulder tattoo designs, as they can easily be hidden when needed. Gorgeous blues and greens make the design pop against the white background, recalling the colors of the ocean while forming the delightfully cute seahorse. A subtle way to pay tribute to the sea, this seahorse will have you daydreaming of a tropical beach paradise!
She may be royalty, but there’s nothing prim and proper about this princess! Particularly in this art style, Princess Leia is an excellent choice for a Star Wars tattoo. In this instance, the tattoo artist made each section of the tattoo “banded,” as if it had really been sown. The shading within the design is exemplary, mimicking the natural shine of real embroidery thread.
This design combines traditional tattoo artistry with the embroidery style. Some of the colors and shading have more of that typical tattoo look, while the edges contain that definitive cross-stitch style. Using the cross-stitch to completely outline all the parts of the tattoo also helps to give it that embroidery feel.
Looking like it came out of an old-school Nintendo game, this bold question mark makes a statement as a large chest tattoo. Not only do we see the embroidery art along the edge, but through the red sections of the question mark is a quilting effect that fits with the needlework theme. A few stay strands here and there on the black edges really sell the embroidery look.
Long Stitch Flowers
In embroidery, there are two main stitches – long and short. Simply put, long stitches cover more area and appear as a longer ling, while short stitches are the opposite. With these flowers, the long stitch method is primarily used to generate the effect of the petals. Long stitches create a feathery, ethereal look that brings movement and beauty to the tattoo.
Taking inspiration from Mexico, this example of an embroidery tattoo uses patterns and colors that one would find along the hems and necklines of traditional Mexican clothing. This type of embroidery tends to have delicate outlines rather than bold black ones, mimicked perfectly here. Using white ink to emulate the shine of the embroidery thread brings a sense of realism to the design that will make you forget this is even a tattoo!
Few things in life are as happy and bright as sunflowers. Highly detailed, the layering of the petals in this embroidery tattoo is exquisite. Additionally, the cute little insects give the impression that the flower is really in a garden, making the overall scene more active. Going for an embroidery style makes all the colors more vibrant, allowing each element to shine.
Another Mexican inspiration, the Caracara, or Mexican eagle, symbolizes the history of the country going all the way back to the Aztecs. Designs such as this often appear in celebratory garments, flags, and banners. This is a great design if you’re looking for a fun tattoo that still holds great meaning. The bright color palette certainly seems like it belongs at a party!
A flower native to Hawaii, the plumeria symbolizes love, romance, and rebirth. Plumeria even shows a woman’s relationship status based on how she wears it in her hair! With this tattoo design, the look copies a silk embroidery style. Using delicate lines and paint-like shading, the flowers take on a three dimensional quality that makes them seem almost real. Sticking with deeper colors in the leaves and vines allows the flowers to pop!
Twisting and weaving in out of each other, much like the threads they imitate, these gorgeous flowers make the perfect embroidery tattoo. This design shows natural movement of the plants, largely because the tattoo isn’t confined to the shoulder. The vine moves across the chest like a real vine, refusing to stay only in the garden. Finally, the shading within the look matches the classic silk embroidery style, both artistic and true to life.
Lace hearts like this are common complements to embroidered decorations and clothes. While you can make lace with embroidery techniques, lace like this is more typical of stockings or dress cutouts. However, the delicate nature of this design makes for a fabulous tattoo, striking in pure black. Not quite embroidery, but still beautiful.
Holy Tattoo, Batman!
In this instance, traditional tattoo design meets an embroidery tattoo look in a fabulous mashup. The quilted nature of the patch is a great contrast the fun and funky lettering edging the design. Layers of color within this Batman tattoo really bring the texture to life, so that you would expect to feel fabric rather than skin were you to touch it.
Wherefore art Thou?
Both cross-stitch and traditional embroidery styles come together in this adorable tribute tattoo. Cross-stitching makes up the lovable Labrador, layers of different color working to create depth the same way you would on fabric. The script is the typical embroidery, standing out with such bright colors against the grays of the dog. Altogether, the design works cohesively as a creative whole.
Friendship is Magic
From your childhood backpack comes an adorable My Little Pony design that you can now always carry with you! Each detail stands out beautifully, perfectly outlined and brightly colored. The lacey details along the heart make the design, giving just the right amount of feminine flair.
Aussie or not, this is a fun reference to those crazy roos without actually doing a literal animal tattoo. Yellow is also a great embroidery tattoo option, as the style by its nature makes color more opaque, therefore, its brightness isn’t lost. Each “stitch” in the tattoo design stands out, giving it that authentic Outback feel rather than an elegant embroidered pillow.
For those looking to add a new tattoo to their collection, embroidery tattoos are a great option that will shake up your usual style. Particularly if you want to make your tattoo stand out, the embroidery look is a completely different art style that will make a statement.
Each embroidery tattoo design is like a tiny art piece, intricately detailed and insanely creative. The sky is the limit in what you can choose, so why not go for it! Bring in your own personal touches to make your embroidery tattoo one of a kind.