What is Redwork Embroidery?

Redwork embroidery is a form of classic embroidery in which red thread is
used to create patterns on a white or cream background.

The unique quality of redwork embroidery is that it was the first kind of colour
embroidery using cotton thread.
It is believed that redwork embroidery originated in eastern Europe in the 19th Century.
It quickly became used in other parts of Europe and also became popular in America.
Redwork embroidery was introduced to America before the Civil War.

In addition to being popular for its decorative purposes, redwork embroidery
also became popular because it was inexpensive in price.
Another reason that redwork embroidery was popular was that the embroidery required less
thread to create a visible image than other kinds of thread.
As such, it took less time to complete redwork patterns and it was also much less
expensive to make the patterns as a smaller quantity of thread was required.

Watch a short video of a collection of Redwork embroidery.



Any plain outline stitch is acceptable for Redwork embroidery.
These include Backstitch, Stem stitch or Split stitch.

Examples of how to work some of these embroidery stitches can be found here

Six strand cotton embroidery floss is the most common choice for those who enjoy Redwork embroidery.
Two strands of floss is recommended for the body of the work and one strand for any fine detail.

Traditionally, Redwork embroidery was worked on plain cotton muslin.
Although there are many fabric choices available today,
most people stick with traditional cottons or linen fabrics in white or ecru.
An embroidery hoop is optional, but very helpful with this type of hand work.
It is also important to work al loose ends in so that the thread does
not shadow through to the front.

Click here for a free Redwork embroidery pattern