The art of Kalocsa embroidery was born in the second half of the 19th century. Originally the needlework was only white and the embroidery patterns were merely made up by holes.
The development of Kalocsa needlework was due to the appearance of printing at Kalocsa in 1860. The so-called "hole-embroidery" became very popular. The women at Kalocsa and in its area could get ready-made Kalocsa embroidery patterns but they liked creating their own designs as well.
Few women could draw embroidery designs but there were many who were skilled in embroidering. The compositions were very simple and clearly arranged. The motifs were borrowed from nature: clusters of grapes, lilacs, lilies of the valley, roses, forget-me-nots, violets delighted the eyes.
The art of Kalocsa embroidery became quite fashionable. At the end of the 19th century, the art of Kalocsa embroidery went through creative innovations. The holes of the pattern designs were filled but there were also many artists who liked to combine the two needlework styles.
As the artists got more and more creative, the treasury of motifs kept growing. The motifs of tulip, lily, paprika, corn in the ear appeared at that time.
At the turn of the century more and more women became skilled in "writing" patterns, creating Kalocsa embroidery designs. Young girls learned the traditional motifs from the old women. Following their imagination they went on innovating the patterns. They belonged to the second generation of "pattern writers".
The traditional white embroidery - which is so popular now - was succeeded by black, blue-black, blue-red style. Each of the colour can appear individually and combined as well. At the beginning of the 20th century the colours of green, pink and yellow gained ground. They used these colours moderately. However, the "holed embroidery" remained white.
The earliest coloured embroideries date from the years 1904-1905. Since the colour of yarns were fading the earliest coloured embroidery work survived with faded colours.
The artists could use non-fading colours only after the yarn factory at Nagyatad had opened in 1912.
The artists embroidered clothes, tablecloths, towels, bedspreads, handkerchiefs, coats, shirts, blouses, aprons.
The colour of the traditional costumes, dresses changed with the person's age who was wearing that. The most colourful Hungarian embroidery was worn by the bride. The elder women’s dresses were less colourful, the tonality of the colours was dark. The combination of blue-violet-green gives an atmosphere of sorrow. This is the so-called "szomorupamukos" Kalocsa style embroidery.