What is it? As we understand, Redwork is a combination of red and white fabric and red embroidery. The era for this stitchery was 1885 to 1935. Designs were stitched on pillow shams, towels, splashers for washstands, tablecloths, napkins, dresser scarves and bedcovers. Many were stitched in one color of red cotton thread on a white linen background. First seen in Europe the stitchery was called "Turkey work" referring to the name of the red thread, a color fast dye (Turkey Red) that had been developed.
In America the name changed to Redwork as it is called today. The majority of the redwork quilts were made for children and were meant to used and washed. These "embroidered picture quilts" often featured pictures that were of interest to children. The squares were sometimes personalized with the name of the child or a favorite pet or family member. Other "outline quilts" were made as presentation quilts, friendship quilts, remembrance quilts and fund raising quilts that combined embroidered names with stitched images. In time women began to use blue embroidery floss in the same way. This became known as Bluework. One color for all the blocks in one quilt. Perhaps the blue was for "boy" children - only speculation. Now quilters are taking the designs and doing both Redwork and Bluework and evolving it many other ways. A local quilter and longtime co-worker at The Cotton Club has made a wonderful chicken top drawing 12 different chickens and embroidering them with red varigated pearl cotton then using assorted fabric on the pieced corners to form a connector block. We have it online (Kits or Redwork in the Online Catalog). We also have a Redwork Block of the Month under "Clubs" or Redwork in the Online Catalog.