During the 19th century, redwork embroidery began in Europe and later gained popularity in the United States prior to the Civil War. This method of embroidery differs from other forms because one color of thread is used, usually a red color, hence the name. Dry goods stores would sell penny squares of muslin, imprinted with designs. Later, redwork embroidery was also used to embellish quilt squares. Proper preparation of the thread helps the finished redwork design become a beautiful creation to cherish.
Pour two cups of warm water into the bowl or measuring cup. Add one to two tablespoons of white vinegar to the water and mix.
Remove the paper from the embroidery thread and soak the thread in the liquid for 20 minutes.
Take out the thread and press it dry with the towel. Allow it to air dry. This process will set the dye to prevent the thread from bleeding onto fabric after embroidered.
Measure and cut an 18-inch length of thread and separate the strands. Commonly, one thread is used for small details and two are used for most other areas. Occasionally three strands are used for areas to stand out from the rest of the design.
Lay out the threads beside each other. Pick up one holding it between your finger tips at the top end. Pick up another thread by its opposite end lining up that end with the top of the thread between your fingers. This method of flipping one thread before joining two helps the threads to lay nicely during stitching.
Thread your embroidery needle to begin stitching your redwork pattern. Work with clean, dry hands to prevent any discoloration on the fabric.
Some brands of embroidery thread, or floss, state they are colorfast; however, certain dark colors, such as reds, may still bleed and should be tested for set with the vinegar. This will help avoid the redwork from being damaged by bleeding dyes.
If your thread becomes twisted during stitching, allow the needle to hang from the fabric and it will twirl, untwisting the thread.