If you are new to the craft of embroidery, redwork is an excellent style to start with. Redwork, much like the name infers, means that the design is done in a single shade of red. The fabric color is typically white or cream, but you can substitute another color if you don't mind breaking tradition! Many of the available patterns are simple and quaintly vintage, which makes them suitable for beginners. The following advice can also help you get through your first project successfully.

Tip #1: Try a kit

One benefit of a redwork kit is you have everything you need for a simple project. Choose a kit that contains the fabric with a preprinted design on it and sufficient floss for the project. This way you don't have to worry about transferring the design to the fabric yourself. You will also need an embroidery hoop, needle, and small scissors, which are items not always included in the kit.

Tip #2: Learn about dye lots

One problem often overlooked by the beginner to redwork is the dye lot issue. In traditional embroidery that features multiple colors, dye lots aren't that important because small color variances don't really show. With redwork, though, a slight difference in the shade of red in a single design can be quite obvious. If you skip the kit, you will need to check the label of the floss you are buying for the dye lot number, which is usually stamped near the color code. If you need more than one hank of floss, make sure they are all stamped with the same dye lot number.

Tip #3: Use the right needle

There are different types of embroidery needles for different types of needlework. Traditional redwork is done on tight woven fabric, so you want a sharp needle. Avoid blunt needles, as these are made for the loosely woven aida cloth used for cross stitch. A shorter needle, about 1.5 inches long, also works better and is easier to handle as you stitch.

Tip #4: Wash your floss

You will have to wash your redwork once you are done. This removes the ink from the pattern as well as any skin oils or dirt that got on it when you were stitching. Unfortunately, if you aren't careful the floss dye will bleed and you'll end up with redwork on pink fabric! Before you begin to stitch, wash the hank of embroidery floss in hot water with a small amount of detergent. Rinse thoroughly until the dye no longer bleeds out. Once it is dry, you can begin to stitch.

For more help, contact a craft supply store near you.

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