Redwork embroidery is an art work which makes use of red thread for making designs on fabrics. A variety of fabric material can be used for this art work. However muslin or other thin fabrics are chosen for better results. The thin fabrics allow one to see through thereby helping in tracing the design. Though the name redwork embroidery came up because of it making use of red threads, it is not mandatory for one to use only red-colored threads. One can go in for different colors while doing this embroidery. This indirectly means that the name of the embroidery also would change depending on the color of the thread used. For example if you are using blue color thread, it will be called blue-work embroidery.
Redwork embroidery originated in Turkey about a century ago. This art form was brought to the United States by the Germans around early 19th century. The art was quite popular during these times and was practiced on a square-shaped perforated paper called penny squares. The name penny squares was used because they were sold for a penny each. Actually the store owner would transfer the design to a piece of muslin by rubbing a piece of wax over a punctured sample. Designs were available from 1910 before colored cottons became widely sold and preferred. Redwork was quite in vogue during the Victorian period however its popularity and use started declining towards the 1930's.
The two important stitches used in redwork embroidery are the Stem Stitch and Outline Stitch. Other stitches that are also used are:
Colors like black, blue, green or any other bold color can be used in this type of embroidery. And accordingly, the name of the embroidery work would also change. For example a green colored thread would be called as greenwork embroidery, likewise blue is called bluework. For better results, it is good to use contrasting colors of thread and fabric. For a dark colored fabric, a light colored thread can be used and similarly for a light colored fabric, dark colored thread can be used for a sparkling result.
Normal fabric would work good, but professionals use muslin. You can start with ordinary clothes as well. Embroidery thread or floss are considered as the best choice for the red work. There are lots of red color options available like 304 Red, 323 Medium Red, Anchor 9052 Christmas Red or 1012 Cherry Red. For needles, you can simply use the embroidery needle, they work really the best because these are thicker than hand sewing needles. Getting a hoop is also useful depending on your project. Enjoy doing redwork embroidery but maintain simplicity for it's the simplicity of the artwork that adds to it's beauty.