Thursday, 21 November 2013

Craftfest blog tour - a little bit of red.

A big welcome to my fellow Craftfest blog tourists. I hope you are all enjoying Craftfest and its tour to the blogs of some of its stall holders.

My blog tour post is about redwork, I hope you like.

Red is a hugely popular colour at christmas - Father christmas doesn't look right in any other colour - so a lot of redwork you see these days is christmas orientated.

A little bit of history.
One of the reasons that redwork embroidery became popular was its use of a wonderful deep red thread called Turkey Red. This was because, unlike most other colours, it was colour fast.
Although the popularity of redwork embroidery peaked around the turn of the century it wasn't new. Redworked usually consisted of  outlined pictures that were stitched with a simple stem stitch. A stitch that was easy for children to learn.

Redwork items included embroidered tidies were used to protect chair backs while embroidered splashers were hung behind the sink. Napkins, tea towels, dresser scarves, chair cushions, sofa pillows were all opportunities for stitching with red floss.

The popularity of redwork wained when other colours became as colour fast so that multi-coloured items could be created or created in another single colour such as blue.

However, there are still many people, like myself, who enjoy working with red thread. As well as the outlined pictures I also enjoy doing redwork cross-stitch. Both can be done easily by children interested in sewing too.

There are many redwork patterns available on websites, including Pinterest (you can see my redwork board on there) which you can use to create your own piece of red embroidery. But you can also design your own pattern too. For outlined pictures you just need to draw what you'd like to embroider. For cross-stitch you need to do a little more work, but it is very easy to do. You just need some graph or other squared type of paper.

In my example, below, I have used graph paper that has quite small squares, however, if you have large squared paper, a child should be able create their own design easily.

For this kind of work is usually done on an even weave fabric or aida. If it's the first time you've done this, I'd use aida with a small number of squares per inch, between 7 and 12, with 7 being the easiest for a child to use for the first time (it's what I started on at school).

One square on the paper equals one square on the aida. For the purpose of this post I decided to create a cross stitch christmas tree.

First of all I marked a triangle on the graph (see picture above), I then used this as a guide to create a solid tree. Where the line of the triangle intercepted a square that became one square, so that the sides of the tree turned into steps rather than a slope.

The two triangles in the middle show (of the first picture) a different way to use the triangle to create a single line tree and a different sized triangle.

I decided to do the single line-type tree with the word Noel underneath on aida.

To make it easier to transfer the pattern from paper to fabric you need to find the centre of your design. To do this you need to count the number of squares in the width and the length. Then draw a line at the halfway point on the width and the left, where the lines intersect that's the centre (see the picture above). To find the centre of the fabric fold it in half then into quarters. Again, the centre is where the two lines intersect.

Start at the centre point and to ensure that the cross-stitch looks neat make sure you sew the cross the same way each time.

I made the decoration by cutting out a circle of the aida, ensuring the cross-stitch was in the centre of the circle and another circle out of a piece of fabric.  Putting right sides together, I sewed the two pieces of fabric together and left a gap so that I could turn it the right way out. I added a small amount of stuffing to the inside of the decoration and then sewed up the gap using a slip stitch. I attached a piece of lace to the top of the decoration so that it could be hung up.

This was just a small item to make with redwork, once you have mastered your stitches, you could make anything you like.

If red isn't your thing, you could use any colour you like to create something unique to you (such as my version in white below).

Pop over to Craftfest to do a bit of shopping at the Christmas fair from the comfort of your home. There are plenty of lovely items available.


As well as having stall at Craftfest, you can find Elsie May and Bertha goodies on our website


  1. red work has always been a fav of mine....simple and effective.
    I like blue work too.

  2. Blooming gorgeous. I haven'y done cross stich for years and you have inspired me to have another go. Loving the traditional redwork too. Thank you for lovely post.

  3. I've always loved blackwork but having seen all your redwork designs you've converted me to red !!!!

    What I like about it is the warmth. Sometimes blackwork can be quite harsh, yet you don't get that redwork xx

  4. Brilliant blog. Thank you. I have done blackwork in the past but never heard of redwork. Haven't done any cross stitch in ages but you have inspired me. Have shared your post.