Embroidery begins with the needle, and the needle (thorn, fish-bone, or whatever it may have been) came into use so soon as ever savages had the wit to sew skins and things together to keep... More > themselves warm—modesty, we may take it, was an afterthought—and if the stitches made any sort of pattern, as coarse stitching naturally would, that was embroidery.
The term is often vaguely used to denote all kinds of ornamental needlework, and some with which the needle has nothing to do. That is misleading; though it is true that embroidery does touch, on the one side, tapestry, which may be described as a kind of embroidery with the shuttle, and, on the other, lace, which is needlework pure and simple, construction "in the air" as the Italian name has it.
The term is used in common parlance to express any kind of superficial or superfluous ornamentation. A poet is said to embroider the truth. But such metaphorical use of the word hints at the real nature of the work—embellishment, enrichment, added.< Less