Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Carefree Summer Days Embroidering


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!

school photoWhen 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. 

Until now…

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?



Katie said...

How very sweet, Mrs. Smith! ♥ This seems it would be such an enjoyable, relaxing, and rewarding activity for summer days (or any season really!). Thanks for the history information also ~ a lost art, I would say!

I inherited my lovely grandmother's sewing table. Within one of the drawers are some precious, fabric "Sunbonnet Sues" she had cut out for a quilt she was never able to finish. I have the whole pattern with it, so I'm hoping to *someday* (Lord willing) cut out some more Sunbonnet Sues and finish the quilt and save it for any potential grandbaby, if the Lord wills it! This post reminded me of this. Hoping to post on it someday.

Always a blessing when I stop by your little home here.

Blessings to you this summer~

janice15 said...

O I love them they are adorable..How do you print them out to transfer what paper should I use..the transfer paper"? You did a wonderful job it's so pretty I want to do all of them in red... thank you so much for sharing.. I have been busy crocheting I have recently made some vintage hot pads and crocheted sachets with lavender..have a great evening with love Janice

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

I enjoyed seeing the family picture with your grandmother, and mother. Love the details of the frame. I learned to embroider from my grandmother when I was about nine or ten years old. She also taught me a simple crochet stitch at the time, but since I didn't practice crocheting like I did embroidery, I forgot how to do it.

Your red work pattern is really cute. You did a great job on it. It looks so good with the red transfer ware.

Mrs.T said...

Beautiful work, Mrs. Smith! That fireplace scene does not look like the work of an amateur! You did a wonderful job on your project.

I love to embroider. Tea towels are another fun project. Your post has got me itching to pick up my needle again (I've been mostly crocheting, and making felt food, of late)! I agree, embroidery is a perfect craft for leisurely summer days. Thanks for the inspiration!

Laura Lane said...

How nice to know a bit of the history of red work. I just like it because it's red!

Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,

Titty said...

ciao carissima,
ti faccio i miei complimenti per il ricamo: è stupendo!
grazie per il link di schemi free, ne scaricherò molti sicuramente!
un abbraccio e a presto,

Natalie said...

Your embroidering is lovely! My grandma taught me to knit. Unfortunately I never continued with it. I also was too busy outdoors. But I did make a little purple potholder that I gave to her. She kept it "safe" and when she passed away I got it back, not sure where it is right now maybe my hope chest. Hmmmm.....

Anonymous said...

Oh goodness--your redwork is absolutely gorgeous! I love embroidering, but have little time to do it anymore. Yours is fabulous!

Thank you for sharing at From the Farm Blog Hop this week! We hope to see you again next week!

~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You

RaisingCropsAndBabies said...

I love your embroidery and that was a great bit of knowledge about the love of red in history. I've seen quite a few quilts all red and white.

Think I might have a go at this pattern when I'm done with my Sunbonnet Sue penny squares. :)

Gail @ http://biblelovenotes.com said...

This is really beautiful, quaint, sweet.

Carolyn said...

Hello Mrs. Smith,

Your embroidery is beautiful! Thank you so much for contributing to my link party! I really appreciate it :-) I hope you stop by again next Friday.


Kim said...

Mrs. Smith, your embroidery is wonderful. It brings back memories of when I was a girl trying all the crafts that were available. My passion ended up being sewing. I am hoping to cut out a new apron for myself soon and the other thing I want to accomplish is painting my vintage dining suite that I use in my breakfast room. It was a gift many years ago and it belonged to my Great Uncle and Aunt. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Letters from the Shore

Stephanie said...

Oh Mrs. Smith, your embroidery work is absolutely beautiful! The red is so eye-catching too. I enjoyed reading a little bit about your Grandmother and your days as a youth - I was the same way when I was younger, I just wanted to be out in the woods or playing in the creek.
You did a lovely job!

Hugs to you.

Pam said...

Oh, I love this embroidery so much! I have an old sampler that I started many years ago, and now you have inspired me to go find it and finish it. My sister had an identical one, and she finished hers--it's beautiful. I love the pictures too!

Grace and Tea For Me said...


Your embroidery is lovely! I too have been bitten by the same craft bug as you. I made a little bag for my grandson and am looking forward to making the pattern you offer on your web site. I am a lover of everything tea, so that will be the first pattern I embroidery. Thank you for your blog post!!!

Mrs. B

Bits of Stitching! said...

Lovely stitching, really beautiful in redwork! Thanks for sharing the pattern source and the dmc color #!

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