Redwork: Outline embroidery for ornamenting household linens and pictorial quilts
Back in October 2018 I gave a presentation on Redwork in the Sacket's Harbor Ball Room in Sacket's Harbor, NY. Here is some of the information I presented during the lecture. The quilts and ephemera on display are from my collection.
Ephemera and Tools – Perforated Patterns; Marking Cotton: H.B. Turkey Red and Black; Walter P. Webber tin of paste; Stamping Pattern Catalogs: 1886 Ingalls, Brigg’s Patent; Fancy Work Manuals; Kate Greenaway’s book Under the Window.
1. History of Redwork: Turkey Red dying history; Turkey Red Marking Thread / Cotton; Outline embroidery for household items, Picture Quilts
Turkey Red Marking Cotton/Thread (that will wash). Loosely-twisted cotton thread, dyed solid colors, usually Turkey Red, and used for simple embroidery work.
Outline Work or Outline Embroidery is of easy execution, of excellent effect, and can be applied to many purposes of decorative needlework.
“Kensington outline, … being produced by a succession of stitches all exactly alike. It is the best of all stitches for the pretty outline designs, resembling etchings, now so fashionable for working with colored marking-cotton on handkerchiefs, table napkins, and many other articles destined to form an intimate acquaintance with the washtub. These designs have no filling in, all that is worked being the outlines together with such lines as, in a pen and ink drawing, would be put in to mark the folds of drapery and so forth. And one can copy a little outline picture on the white goods where It is to be worked, by placing the goods over the picture (holding against the window-pane if necessary) and marking the lines with a lead pencil; then all you have to do is to follow the pencil marks with your Kensington outline.”
2. Household Linens: Tidies, splashers, shams, antimacassars, duster bags, napkins, fancy work aprons. Kate Greenaway’s 1879 book “Under the Window” had a huge impact on redwork embroidery; Dream Beauty/Woke Duty; Sit Thee Down; Owl’d Maid; Morning Dip; Splash splash; Shoe bag; Servettes/Napkins and other household linens
3. 1890 Redwork
“1889 Crib Quilt by Mrs. Jane Weaver. This month, in the front of the book, we give something quite new in the way of a crib-quilt, which is to be made of un-bleached muslin. The border is composed of blocks nine inches square. The little figures are first drawn or transferred on the block, then outlined with red working-cotton (no. 10 and 14). After the center is ready, the blocks are joined together and to it, in a seam, and a row of red braid stitched over it. The whole is then lined with Turkey-red muslin. It will be found to amuse a child when other things fail, especially if the little one is too sick to sit up. Flowers can be intermingled if desirable.” Peterson’s Magazine, Volume 95, January 1889, No. 1
“These unique quilts are made of squares of silk, bolting cloth or linen, upon which figures, faces, etc. are done in water-colors, pen-and-ink or embroidery. The squares are joined and the seams decorated with fancy stitching, which may be all of one color or combine a variety of colors. The quilt is usually lined with silk, satin, Surah, sateen or any pretty material.” September 1891 Delineator magazine.
“A Quilt Not Quilted. A very pretty quilt can be made of half-bleached muslin cut into blocks eight inches square. Put two together with one thickness of sheet wadding in between, cut the latter a little smaller than the cotton, and baste firmly together; then on each block, no two alike – flowers, birds, scrolls, anything you like. When all are outlined, join the blocks all together with edges all turned neatly, and then feather-stitch each seam. Sew the edges together over and over, then feather-stitch around the outside edge. Worked in either red or yellow cotton, they are very pretty. Outlining the blocks after the lining and outside have been put together, serves as quilting. Either for a child’s bed, or a large one, or simply as a slumber robe, such a quilt is useful and light that it is easily laundered.” 1892 The Rural New Yorker, Volume 51
4. Things I am working on: The Velvet Hex; 1920s A Jolly Circus Quilt by Ruby McKim; 1996 Ingalls Crane; 1885-86 Crazy Splasher (wip and original)
The Velvet Hex is a crazy quilt I have been working on during my lunch time at work for the past several years. The embroidery is done by hand, and pieced together using the English Paper Piecing method.
‘A Jolly Circus’ quilt pattern from the September 1921 Woman’s World magazine – image of quilt only, I created a pattern from that image,
1885-6: Are You Crazy? redwork splasher was made in 1885-6 by two stitchers, AEM and AET. It was purchased from an estate sale in Virginia and I am recreating it for the 2019 QCNYS Challenge.
5. Unfinished quilt blocks and tops with backdrop of 1890 and 1908 Nursery Rhyme Quilt - Series quilt from Farm and Home Magazine
1908 Series – Mother Goose Quilt from Farm and Home Magazine - 4 pre-printed blocks or perforated patterns could be purchased at a time from the bi-monthly magazine Farm and Home, by Phelps Publishing of Springfield, MA. The series started on September 15, 1908 and ran until November 15, 1908 with images posted in each issue as to which rhymes were being represented. Farm and Home, Western Edition - September 15, 1908 to November 15, 1908