Redwork Embroidery Tips & Tricks

The art of Redwork is steeped in history. It became widely used when a special colourfast red floss was developed in Turkey some 200 years ago called Turkey Red.

Today, Redwork is still a popular form of embroidery with many of the vintage penny squares being used as well as modern alternatives. You can find more information on the history of redwork here.

Here are some really handy tips and tricks that will give you beautifully finished Redwork embroidery projects every time.


  • DMC 304, 321, 498, and 817 are the closest match the traditional ‘Turkey Red’ thread.
  • Some threads – especially red – still tend to bleed when you wash them. It is best to test on a small scrap of fabric first by washing normally in room-temperature water. If the colour does bleed, try giving it a second washing or rinse.
  • Redwork is worked usually worked using 2 strands of 6 stranded embroidery floss. 1 strand is used for finer details and 3-4 strands are used for thicker lines or emphasis.
  • TOP TIP: use a needle threader to thread your needle instead of wetting the end of the thread as this may cause the thread to bleed.
Redwork ThreadHoops
  • The key to neat redwork is keep your fabric nice a snug so that your stitching tension is even. A hoop will help you to achieve this.
  • Using a fusible stabilizer isn’t always necessary. You can use a heavier fabric to begin with.
  • If you’re turning your embroidery into a quilt or wall hanging, don’t use a stabilizer on the back of your work. This will make your work too heavy.

When working your stitches, you’ll want to use a sharp needle. Traditionally, redwork was worked onto muslin and so a sharp needle with an eye big enough to comfortably fit your thread through will be needed. There are a few key stitches that are used in Redwork:

You can learn the art of Redwork at our next Craft Sanctuary event from the talented Kate Barlow who began training at the Royal School of Needlework. Working from a chart, each of the five striking balloon designs will help you master a different counted thread pattern. Running stitch and back stitch create the vibrant red flashes while texturizing techniques adorn the box itself. The design will be brought to life further, stitch by stitch, with the impactful goldwork methods of couching and chipping. This beautiful piece will be created using high-quality Zweigart evenweave fabric, DMC stranded cotton and Light Effects threads along with bright check and pearl purl goldwork threads.

You will learn this impactful technique in the beautiful Eastwood Hall in Nottinghamshire. Surrounded by Nottinghamshire’s magnificent countryside, this charming Georgian country house is the perfect setting in which to learn historic embroidery techniques. Originally built in 1810, the award-winning 4* hotel effortlessly blends the essence of grandeur with stylish and modern amenities.Craft Sanctuary

Give Redwork a try with some patterns at SewandSo and learn from the best at our Craft Sanctuary retreat in February.

Other Topics You May Enjoy ...


Embroidery techniques