Embroidery has evolved over the years. What started a long way before with just a simple thread and needle now, rules over factories filled with machinery. The craft of decorating fabric not only incorporates thread and a needle but, a lot of different materials of various shapes and sizes. Not to forget, the diverse styles, tricks, and techniques.

Today, we are taking a trip to a memory lane of the wonderful cities of Past & Embroidery. We are going to talk about a form of embroidery that birthed and rose to fame in the 19th century; Redwork Embroidery.

What is Redwork Embroidery?

Redwork Embroidery is also known as the art of needlework or simply art needlework. Redwork uses as per tradition the Kensington Stitch— commonly known as backstitch or outlining stitch— with a single red thread. It is mostly worked on white Calico or Muslin and quilts.

This sort of embroidery is very introductory because the design is an outline; it is easy, quick, and simple with very minimal fillings. It is a simple yet beautiful technique, which still lives to this day with people infusing it in today’s charm.


During the 19th and 20th century, Redwork was really popular. Red thread was used at the time because the first commercially accessible colorfast dyes were red dyes hence the name, “Redwork”.
It was very nominal for the lower classes and it was also a source of income for women working from home.

As we mentioned earlier in our article; Redwork being an introductory form of embroidery, children were taught this form in the 19th and 20th century. The children used the redwork on their quilts, napkins, and their uniforms as well.

Uses & Designs

Redwork has been incorporated into many useful items such as:

  • Napkins
  • Tea towels, dish towels, and other variations.
  • Laundry bags
  • Pillow covers
  • Quilts
  • Uniforms
  • Cloth covers

Some popular original & traditional Redwork designs are texts like “Good night”, “Good morning”, animals & insects, children and toys.

We really wanted to dedicate an article to Redwork embroidery to encourage beginners to pick it up. It is fun, easy, simple and beautiful. It is also adequately challenging for adults and children at the same time. Redwork has now variations such as: Bluework, Blackwork, and so on; the same work done with different colors of threads.

During these times when things are not really accessible, such simple forms of embroidery deserve a chance to be learnt and taught. It is a great skill to pick up and a really nice way to pass the time. You can bring in your own little tricks and ideas into the form and create really beautiful things.

Try and give Redwork Embroidery a chance! Plus, let us know in the comments if you have ever tried it. We would love to see what you have made!

Have Fun Sewing & Embroidering

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