Pictured is a table runner that my grandmother made along with a portrait of her, my mom, and my mom’s brother, which is also her cousin. Another story, another time.
My mom says that the table runner was used as long as she can remember, so we know that it is at least 75+ years old. My grandmother even made the lace for it. A great deal of work, skill, diligence, and patience must have gone into it!
When I was about this age, one summer my grandmother got me started embroidering, but my stitch kick lasted just a short while. I was more into traipsing in the woods, or riding my green banana seat bike, or playing Monopoly with my cousins on warm and cozy rainy days in my grandmother’s house.
I still have my unfinished pillowcase with red and pink cross stitches – my first and last embroidery project.
The embroidery bug has bitten again!
What has especially captured my interest is redwork.
Embroidery with a history – now that’s my kind of embroidery! Embroidery where simple stitches were generally used. That seemed doable for a gal like me that can hardly sew a button on.
Redwork fits nicely with my Victorian decorating theme, to boot. It seems that most of what I like of that era tends to be from the 1880’s, which is an odd thing that I keep discovering, and redwork is no exception, since that is when it peaked in popularity.
Readily available “Turkey red” thread was used, which was a high quality colorfast cotton thread acquiring its name because it was made in Turkey.
Around the turn of the century, preprinted square blocks of muslin were sold for a penny, which became know as “penny squares.” When I look at penny squares from those times, I get caught up in wondering who stitched them. I wonder were they were and what was going on around them as they sat stitching…
By the 1930’s, redwork lost its popularity, but it is making a comeback. With me, anyway!
I’ll tell you something else I like about redwork – I tend to like whimsical patterns and stitching in red helps those patterns not look like they belong in a nursery. :)
If you are interested in this free embroidery pattern, I found it here. DMC #304 is the floss that I used, since it is a good match for “Turkey red.” It has a pretty, slightly burgundy red tint, which works perfectly with the color scheme in my decor.
I backstitched the girl, fireplace bricks, and fine details of her dress, since it is a thin stitch. For her clothes and fireplace, I used an outline and stem stitch because it is thicker, goes rather quickly, and follows curves well. A satin stitch made her bow and shoes pop. If I had it to do over again, I would have used less strands of thread for the picture on the wall. My lazy daisy stitches and French knots are too thick. But I love the imperfections in vintage handwork as much as the precise stitches so I will just leave it be…I think… I’m not sure which I did more – put in stitches or remove stitches! I am ready to move on to another project. :) And I discovered, I need stronger reading glasses!
How are you filling your summer days?