Redwork is a name that originated from the red thread that is commonly used to a particularly appealing style of embroidery. The cotton manufacturers in Turkey have utilized some special dyeing method to make it colorfast, which a few decades back was considered a great novelty and explains why it was so popular back then. Since the processing of the red color came all the way from Turkey, it was aptly called Turkey Redwork. The ability of color to last in any embroidery is highly important to be able to withstand the rigors of constant washing. At that time the only alternatives were white and natural cotton. Hence, the addition of the new color red created such a sensation.
It was believed that the Redwork embroidery was originally from Europe back in the 19th century. Back then, silk was considered a luxury item and cotton on the other hand was abundant and very cheap. This explained why peasants were the primary market and they were able to improvise by using decorative stitches as embellishments. Such popularity spread through America, where stores sold muslin squares with approximately 6 inches in size for only a penny a piece. This dubbed the term “penny squares” that we often see in linens and bedspreads up until today. The squares were given to adolescents to help improve their embroidery skills since even small children at that time were taught how to sew, in orphanages and schools. In fact, a school in England helped popularized the Redwork embroidery since it is where the Kensington stitch was first developed by female students. However, over the years, Redwork embroidery along with other forms and styles of embroidery significantly declined because of the changing times and fickle temperaments of people.
However, in modern time Redwork embroidery is experiencing some sort of a renaissance mainly because there are some people who seek to reproduce the same appearance of antique quilts that can be seen in auctions. Apparently a lot of people nowadays are attracted to the sheer artistry of old style embroidery. Even though there is an abundance of embroidery machine that produces expert quality embroidery with just a touch of a button, there are still some people who prefer to do it the traditional way. This is why hand embroidery will never go out of style, especially in delicate fabrics that would require gentle handing and very intricate designs that can only be done manually.