The popularity of Redwork during the period of 1885 to 1925, coincided with the development of a colourfast dye that produced a lovely clear red. The name given to this red was Turkey Red. The name came from the country where this difficult and complicated dyeing process was created and produced under much secrecy. Even today it is not known beyond all doubt how the original methods were carried out.
Patterns for Redwork were published in the Women’s Magazines such as The Ladies Home Journal, The Modern Priscilla and Godey’s Lady’s Book. Stamping Kits and Patterns were offered to entice customers to take out subscriptions. This is an early example of advertising. The patterns used in Redwork were not specifically for quilts, but for all household linens. They were also known as Penny Squares, Storybook, Pictorial or Nursery Rhyme designs.
Due to the simplicity of Redwork and the basic requirements needed Redwork was a good project for beginners and children. Redwork quilts were often made up without batting and in some instances they were simply backed and not quilted.
A stanza from The Needles Excellency by John Taylor published in 1631 describes embroidered pictures. It is also a fitting description of the variety of images found on Redwork quilts made nearly 300 years later.
“Flowers, Plants and Fishes,
Beasts, Birds, Flyes and Bees,
Hills, Dales, Plains, Pastures,
Skies, Seas, Rivers, Trees,
There’s nothing ne’er at hand or farthest sought
But with the needle may be shap’d and wrought.”
Wishing you all a safe and peaceful Christmas. I hope you find time during the busy festive season to spend in pursuit of excellence with the needle. Sending my best, Janette – The Plain Needlewoman