Redwork Questions

Several years ago while in a quilt shop, I saw and wanted to make the Winter Wonderland quilt.

I bought the white fabric for the redwork and will use white on white and reds from my stash.  I’ve never done redwork and I really don’t remember how to do embroidery so I have questions. If you know answers or have suggestions, could you please help me out?  I’m thinking this might be a good project for while I don’t have full access to my stash.

  • I think I bought a tightly woven muslin for the redwork — Southern Belle maybe.  I’m not even sure I can find it but if I can, is that a good choice?
  • If I can’t find the Southern Belle, will any white on white in my stash work or does it need to be a muslin or non-printed type fabric?
  • How do I mark the embroidery lines?  In theory, I suppose I’m supposed to stitch right on my lines and they wouldn’t show.  I might remember that someone told me to use a very fine tip red Pigma pen?  Or, a red pencil color?
  • What do I use for red thread?  Perle cotton?  Embroidery floss?  How many strands?
  • Do I start off with a knot or do I leave a tail and weave it in (kinda like knitting)?




  1. 1


    This is one of my long term projects and my first redwork project. I’m using perle cotton on any white on white/cream on cream in my stash. I’m backing my fabric with a piece of thin muslin to help prevent show through. I’ve used a marking pencil – I want it to wash out. Not to mention, what happens if I mark it wrong? And some of my snowflakes are drawn too wonky and I’ve ‘straightened’ them with my stitching. I start my thread with a knot, but I’ve seen others who weave it in. In fact I’ve got a friend who is doing some redwork and you can’t tell the front from the back!

    • 1.1

      Patricia G Hayes says

      I much prefer weaving the thread in, and feel I am a very good embroiderer. Have been doing this for years. I saw another hint the other day somewhere, that you start farther away and travel back to the beginning and then proceed and this way the thread is all hidden quickly. Also great item to aid you is to buy Sulky Fabric Solvy, or Transeze. These both are products that allow you to copy your pattern on the computer and then have either of the above products go thru your computer feed. After that you remove the backing of the above product and finger press it onto your fabric to be stitched. It completely washes out when you are finished stitching. I use all the time and this way you do not need the muslin if you weave your threads. I am making the same pattern that you are. Have fun.

  2. 2

    Barb M says

    I use any white or cream tone on tone. I use red embroidery floss. I use 2 strands. I do knot on the back because that was how I was taught. I use a pigma pen to mark my fabric. I have a light box that I use. You can also tape your pattern to the window and draw it that way. I have done this before and it worked great.
    Sorry about all your problems in getting a house. I know it must be very hard with all the unknowns. Keep your chin up it will get better.
    Have a good day.

  3. 3


    I have loved that pattern for a long time. Have seen it in red, blue and green. I love the combination of embroidery and piecing. I use both muslin and any other light fabric that lends itself to the pattern. I use a red pigma for marking. Just recently learned how to start without a knot and without weaving the ends in later. I like to line my embroidery with flannel, a light batting or two layers of fabric so there is no chance of shadowing.

  4. 5

    Sandy K says

    I use the white Kona fabric. i use embroidery floss using 2 strands unless it if fine work then I use one strand. I also knot my floss. Marking the drawings I use a very sharp pencil with light pressure or I use the fine pigma pens. When you are tracing the pattern you need to take your time.Plan on doing a little at a time this way you will be more calm and get perfect lines.

  5. 6

    Cynthia Lee says

    I use muslin. The weave and hand of the fabric make it easier to needle. A good grade muslin. I like unbleached but that is just my personal like. It looks old and loved to me. If you want to use a non muslin do a sample stitch to see how easy it is to needle. I never finish anything that makes my hands hurt after a short time. I have not heard of the brand you are refering to. You know how good fabric feels on the bolt.

    I use two strands of emb. floss. Weaving the tail in is good if you don’t mind the effort it takes to make it secure. Sometimes the knot shows through the fabric and if it’s a piece yopu put alot of time in it will look bad to your eyes.

    A pigma pin would give you the finest line as long as it doesn’t bleed. Test a very sharp pencil and a pigma pen and see which you like working with best and which reacts best to the fabric you are using. I would use red for redwork. If you have a lightbox it is great to use to get a good copy of the pattern. Use painters tape, 3M, to tape the pattern and fabric to the glass top.

    Google embroidery stitches, there are lots of tutorials that are free and very good on the internet.

    Love that pattern. It should keep you busy for man, many months.

  6. 7


    I’ve only done a little redwork, but here’s what worked for me. I used a red pigma pen and it worked nicely. Just don’t make a mistake while tracing. Next time I’ going to use a friction pen. They are wonderful, just throw them in the dryer when your through or if you want to make sure the lines never come back, wash the piece. I used red embroidery floss, two strands. Instead of of knotting in the beginning, I cut one really long piece, separated out one strand and doubled it in half. Thread the two ends though the needle with the loop at the end farthest from the needle. Then I started the first stitch and came back through the loop left on the back which eliminated one knot entirely. When I got to the end of the thread, just made the smallest knot I could and wove the ends back through my stitching on the back. I saw this on another blog but can’t remember which. One caution…many red threads are not as colorfast as they should be. When you wash use a color catcher. They take care of the problem.

    • 7.1


      That is the way I start any cross stitch also with the extra long thread and go through the loop. I discovered this myself years ago. I hate the knots!

  7. 8

    Jo says


    I’ve done Crabapple’s French Cottage quilt, and liked the results using a good quality muslin.

    I like to secure my floss using the loop method to avoid knots – a good explanation is on this site:
    I generally don’t hoop when I cross stitch, but I do for redwork. The pigma pens are a good choice for marking, and a light box is very helpful. In a pinch, you could also use a strong lamp under a glass top table.

  8. 9


    Judy… I too am doing “Winter Wonderland”. Any good quality WOW/ COC/ WOC will work for redwork. The pattern suggest using either an additional layer of fabric or a woven fusible interfacing to stabilize the stitchery and help prevent shadowing. Meg also gives illustrated instructions for the basic stitches needed to do the quilt. I am using 2 strands of DMC floss, but have seen it done in #8 perle cotton and would probably have done it that way if I were starting now! Check out the Crabapple Hill website and I believe there were some tips and techniques there that were helpful too. Pretty soon, snow should be a distant memory for you, and these will be a welcome reminder of what the rest of us will be enduring! 😉

  9. 10


    How very funny! I’m working on that quilt right now. I’ve finished all the embroidery and am not starting on the blocks on the outside. I backed my fabric with a light weight iron-on interfacing. That way I didn’t have to worry about the layers shifting. I also marked mine using a light box and a Sew-line pencil but a cheap mechanical pencil would work just as well with the added benefit that the marks come off.

    I recommend deciding up front whether you’re going to embroider the circles or use French Knots. I embroidered each one of them (and there are a TON) because I liked the look better. Although French Knots in hindsight would have been much quicker.

    Good luck with this project! It’s a great one to carry with you.

  10. 11

    LadyBaltimore says

    You might want to pre-wash red embroidery floss or whatever thread you use unless you’re sure it will not bleed onto the white fabric. (Ask me how I know). I just dunk the whole skein into warm or hot water until clear and let it air dry.
    I make a knot when starting embroidery with the tail cut to the knot.
    I also use a washable blue pen to mark the background.
    If you don’t intend to get any water on the quilt, then pre-washing wouldn’t be necessary and you’d use a red pigma pen instead of a water soluable pen.
    I love embroidery.

  11. 13


    The red, either in floss or pearl cotton, is gonna run, so be sure to pre-wash it, or just dry clean the quilt.

    Pearl cotton will give a nice rounded look to your stitching. And you won’t have to worry about separating threads. You’ll need to use threads no longer than 18″, particularly because pulling it through fabric will abrade it.

    I’d probably use embroidery floss, just because it’s so available, and you can use however many plies you want. I, too have been looking at redwork, but would want to do it purely as embroidery.

  12. 14

    pdudgeon says

    I use something different; a spool of Sulky 100% coton.
    the color is Turkey Red, #713 1169, and it’s perfect for redwork.
    there are 330 yards on a spool, and it can be used either for hand or machine embroidery. One strand of thread is all I need, and it makes the most even stem stitches ever.

    I also back my embroidery material with flannel so there’s no show-thru, and use a knot at the beginning and end.

    best wishes on your redwork!

  13. 15

    Cindy in NC says

    Embroidery was the first craft I learned. I have such good memories of sitting in the double rocker on my grandparent’s front gallery and stitching away on muggy Louisiana afternoons. I have my first sampler (in all its garish glory) framed and hanging in my house.

    I purchased Crabapple Hill’s “Over the River and Through the Woods” last fall but, like you, I’ve been intimidated by it. Mostly I’m concerned about tracing the pattern. I’ve read lots on line about tracing tools and techniques. In the meantime I’m working on an old fashioned set of Aunt Martha’s transfers called “Kitten Chores.” I’m doing them on muslin rather than dishtowels with the idea of making them into a quilt. I did not line the muslin, so I’m doing a lot of stopping and starting so the thread won’t show through. I plan on using a lightweight interfacing on my next project.
    I found a tutorial on a blog (can’t remember which one) on how to secure thread without knotting or weaving, and I love this technique.

    I’m sure lots of our readers would love it if you started an “Embroider Along.” I know I’d feel a lot braver about starting my Crabapple Hill project if I was doing it along with you — but then, I’d probably jump off a cliff if you did.

  14. 16


    I use two threads of embroidery floss…matching it to the red material. (My first projects I stitched first and then tried to find material to match…ugh.) also–I really like using a 4″ embroidery hoop. Just so much easier. I’ve always marked them with a fine line washable blue pen…but there’s a new pen out called frixion erasable gel pen that disappears with heat! I definately will use that next time. If there is a lot of work on a project…I cut the background piece a little bigger…1/2″ or so and then trim it to the correct size afterwards. I also look for the hardest part of the project and do it first….reason is…if I goof it up I haven’t ruined the whole piece. For instance I did some pictures of girls and did the eyes first as that was the hardest. Good luck. It is very addicting!!

  15. 18

    Deb says

    HI Judy

    I love to embroider and actually have this pattern – but have not been able to start it yet..

    BUT- I suggest using a transfer product called Transfer Eze – I have used it before and it works beautifully. Also use Cosmo floss – more colorfast…

  16. 19

    Penny says

    I use any white on white/cream fabric. I tape the design to a window and trace lightly on to the fabric with a very fine propelling pencil. After marking the fabric I iron on a piece of lightweight interfacing ( Vilene/Pellon or whatever it is called in the US) which is slightly larger all round than the block. This helps stop fraying of the block fabric and hides threads on the back and is trimmed back when the stitching is complete. I stitch using 2 strands of floss and fabric in a hoop. Sometimes I might use 3 strands for French Knots. I haven’t tried it with Perle yet. I knot the thread and trim close to the knot because it can still show through even with the interfacing in place. Enjoy your stitching!

  17. 20

    JoAnne in VA says

    I agree with pdudgeon–Use the Sulky, 12 wt. It’s the best! You need only one thread, which is much easier than double thread and it looks great. Southern Belle is a good choice. Choose a fabric that can take the handling well. Good luck. You’ll enjoy the project.

  18. 21

    Lynne says

    White Kona, red embroidery floss(2 Strands) test a piece first for color fastness.
    No knots, and I found a great product for transferring designs it’s called transfer eze. It is a pack of letter size sheets and you print your lines onto the sheets. It has a peel off back and you stick the front sheet to your cloth. It has a couple of great advantages, easy to see design, bit of extra stability when stitching and it washes out like the wash away stabiliser when you have finished stitching

  19. 22

    JoAnne in VA says

    I agree with pdudgeon–Use the Sulky, 12 wt. It’s the best! You need only one thread, which is much easier than double thread and it looks great. Southern Belle is a good choice. Choose a fabric that can take the handling well. Good luck. You’ll enjoy the project.

  20. 23


    Judy I made that quilt two years ago. Here are my suggestions:
    1. Muslin is fine but I would either use 2 layers or a very lightweight flannel (prewash) behind it so that your stray threads won’t show through to the front. I personally prefer either Moda Bella white or Kona cotton white or snow.
    2. White on white fabrics can be more difficult to needle through because the pattern is “painted” on and even though the feel of the fabric is soft, those individual patterns can be thicker than they look.
    3. If you back the blocks with something baste them together around the outside edges. If you just use one layer baste around the outer edges to keep it from fraying. Either way cut each block a good bit larger than necessary to give yourself some room.
    4. If you use two layers you can knot and it won’t show. If one layer then weave the ends under.
    5. When I marked that quilt I used a very fine point red Pigma pen. But you use the blue wash-away pen or a fine tip pencil. A pencil might tug at the fabric when you’re tracing.
    6. I do tons and tons of redwork. My preference for thread is #12 Finca perle. I hate separating floss but the #8 was too large. The #12 is great. And rather than a bright red I use a sort of turkey red. It seems to blend with all shades of red when you’re doing the piecing.
    This is a beautiful quilt when finished. I use it on my bed from Thanksgiving until I change to Valentine stuff! blessings, marlene

  21. 24

    Eileen says

    I use “Sticky Fabri Solvy” (made by Sulky) works just like Transfer -Eze — no marking!!!! I purchase at Bird Brain designs. I believe she offers just a few sheets if you just want to try it. I am using it on Crabapple Hill’s Snow Days.

  22. 25


    Judy – I bought this one too. I just love it. You can trace the designs from the pattern onto your fabric with a blue water soluble pen (or one of those new Frixion Pens that disappear with an iron if you don’t plan on storing the quilt in the freezer), then wash it out afterwards. I’m always afraid of using regular pencil because you might be able to see it afterwards. I was planning on using a Moda Bella Solid for the redwork areas, but it might be too tightly woven. I’ll have to check it out.

  23. 26

    Mona R says

    Well, I agree with all the other comments. My memory of Southern Belle is that it is a nice soft fabric. Can’t really tell how large this finished piece will be, but your embroidery will look more quilty and less like a page of paper stuck in with some pieced blocks if you use a thin batting or flannel to line the Southern Belle. Your stitches will look nicer IMHO, slightly dimensional, not so flat. Never had a problem adding another layer of thin batting to the completed top. If the piece is small, you can add all the borders, layer the batting and embroider through the completed top. Quilting can distract from the embroidery so it’s nice to have that area prequilted with the embroidery stitches themselves. Have seen fabulous stitcheries made using a single strand of floss, but for my money and time, I want that embroidery to show up! As far as I know, there are no “embroidery police” who will ticket you for using 3 or more strands of floss. Love those ridiculously time consuming projects 🙂 Have half a Paraphernalia sock completed. Swift arrived. Oh my–what a wonderful thing! Your Chad is pretty cute, too, by the way. Hang tough. You guys are due a big break 🙂

  24. 27


    Lots of tips here. This is also one of my unfinished projects. It was a six month class (I failed, obviously). Our fabric was white kona and we used a white muslin for backing the embroidery squares. We marked with either a red jelly roll pen or a silver pencil. I couldn’t see the silver so that didn’t work for me. For thread we used Sulky 12 wt. and doubled it. I put knots in. The project (as were were instructed) was back stitch and french knots. It is pretty easy to stitch.

    I did not prewash a thing. I will tell you my pal, Nancy, also a UFO participant, did this quilt (and finished) in bluework. It is so beautiful and she won best in show at our last quilt show.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it. (hanging my head in shame)

    Like I said, lots of tips here. Its a big project, for sure. It is drop dead gorgeous when finished though.

  25. 28

    Bett says

    When I learned to applique’ with silk thread, (you cannot tie a knot in silk thread) we would cut the thread twice as long as we needed, doubled it and put the ends through the eye of the needle. The long side will have a loop. When you start bring the needle up from the back, leave a short tail, go over a few threads, go back down. When you get to the back, catch the loop with the needle and pull snuggly. At the end, it is now easy to weave the thread to secure it. This technique makes the back very smooth and very finished looking.

    I also use a light box to transfer the design. Tape the design, then tape the fabric on all four sides. This helps reduce movement.

    Also, there is a new product out now that looks like a dryer sheet, but you put it in the washer. It keeps colors from running and works well.

  26. 29


    I am working on this quilt in blue. I am using an assortment of white on white/cream on cream. I ironed on a fusible cotton called woven fusible. This allows me to go ahead and knot the ends as well as carry the threads for a short distance like when doing french knots.

    I wanted to use perle cotton but finally settled on a lovely blue DMC floss. I am happy with it. I did trace the pattern using a light box with blue pigma pen but think I would use the Frixon pen now.

    One bit of advice – don’t work on all the small blocks first. Do at least mix a small with a large block or it becomes overwhelming at the end.

  27. 30

    Stephanie says

    There is a product that I think is called Transfer Eze. It goes in your printer and you copy the design on it, then peel off the paper backing. Stick it to your fabric, no hoop as the Transfer Eze stablizes the fabric. It is water soluble, so when you are done stitching just soak it.

  28. 31

    Linda J says

    Hi Judy,
    I have all the embroidery finished on this project, and even have the blocks sewn together. It’s the outer blocks that I haven’t gotten to yet. I used several different colors of floss in my quilt, not just red. I used regular DMC floss and haven’t had any problem with the red dye running. I use a Children’s Washable Crayola marker to mark my pattern and I used Fairy Frost fabric. I rinsed the marker out of each finished block before I trimmed it to the correct size. I like the dimension of Fairy Frost, but I did back it with a nice muslin – Kaufman I think.

    Another alternative is the DMC satin floss. It’s really pretty, but is shreds terribly unless you use Fray Check or something on the ends of the thread in your needle. It really gives a nice sheen to the finished piece though. I used the satin floss in another embroidery project – Snowmen A to Zzzzz. All my letters are in red satin floss and the piece turned out really pretty. It’s finished, just waiting for me to find a nice quilting pattern for the borders.

    Good luck with this project.

    Linda J in GA

  29. 32

    Grace says

    I do a lot of hand embroidery and always use a blue Crayola Washable felt tip marker for tracing because it washes out completely. Some of the other colors don’t wash out completely, but the blue does. I have been working on Winter Wonderland for almost 2 years. I am using 2 strands of different shades of blues, and I am using Kona white, different WOW (including fairy frost) fabrics just to add texture. I have collected gazillion different blue fabrics for the quilt blocks. It’s my forever project and if it’s ever gonna get finished, it will be beautiful.

  30. 34

    Debbie R. says

    I think you will find redwork addictive. I have always loved embroidery and using just one color makes it fun,simple and easy pick up and work for a minute or an hour. I use DMC floss #498… I have used a Permanent ultra fine red pen for marking. I want to get the Frixon pen to try looks like a perfect solution just haven’t found one yet. I have found online video’s great for learning the stitches…. I use outline stitch.. have used all types of fabrics.

  31. 35

    Julia says

    Oh, I do so love this pattern! It is on my short list to get done. Maybe watching you work on yours will give me the inspiration to get mine going. I have collected several different white on whites and some white on creams to make this. My friend used the red pigma pen technique on hers and it seems to be working great. She is also using embroidery floss, I think she is using 3 strands. I am hearing wonderful things about the Cosmos brand of embroidery thread. I think that is what I will be using on mine. Can’t wait to see this beauty come to be!

  32. 36

    LaRae says

    hi, I have been a long time reader of your wonderful ? blog, and I so enjoy it!! A while ago I came across this link of Mary Corbet’s, she has wonderful how to vids, tips, patterns, ect.. an excellent site to check out.. hope this helps.. best wishes

  33. 37

    Nancy P. says

    Hi Judy,
    I made this quilt about 2 1/2 years ago and I did it in blue. I did use white on white fabric with muslin for a liner and it worked out great. There is no show through from the underside. Two strands of Sulky 12wt. is what I used for the embroidery, it made it stand out a little more than just the one strand and I did knot the end!!!

    A light box was really helpful for the tracing and I did use a gel pen for this quilt and I have used a pigma pen for the Hallowen version that I am working on now (Vintage Trick or Treat). I am sure lots of different ideas are coming your way but this is just what I did!! If I was better at this computer stuff I would post a picture of my finished quilt but you can check my Flickr page (QeenPeach20) and see a photo there.
    Good luck with all your moving and I hope you will find your dream house soon!!! Take care!! On to the UFO for August, I have to post my finished project for July.

  34. 40

    Sandi P. says

    I hadn’t done embroidery in a long time either and I came across the Clove and Violet blob just as they were starting to talk about their Embroidery 101 Quilt Along. So I joined in. They suggested Kona Cotton but also ironing a light weight stabilizer to the back of it. She is also posting mini-tutorials for different stitches every other week. She posts 2 new stitches one week and then the new design using those plus the others we have learned, the next week. I’m using Perle cotton, but some of the others who are participating are using the DMC floss, 2 or 3 strands. Anyway thought you might want to check it out since the beginner aspect of this is also a good refresher.

  35. 41

    WiAmy says

    I don’t have lots of experience with this but want to add
    SouthernBelle is 200 count. Being that it is 200 count, I have heard that it can be more difficult to needle through and that it can leave some needle holes. I have seen redwork on it though that has turned out just beautiful…so you might want to do some testing on it to see how it works specifically for you (do a sample of quilting in addition to embroidery test too). Regarding the frixion pens, I have read some negatives on that too! After you expose it to heat, then the marks disappear, however, they reappear if they are subsequently exposed to cold! Living in a northern climate and maybe needing to wash it in cold water, wouldn’t make me want to risk it! Many of those marking pens (different types) have very special instructions on them. Lines will be permanently set with the same action that is required to erase with another. Reading all the package literature is essential–even before prewashing as detergents are contraindicated for some! Reappearing lines and lines that never disappear can be a heart break! Test everything! Myself, I usually like a nice very thin mechanical pencil.

    One of those battery lights that you can tap to turn on, can be used to make a light table under a glass top or even chunk of plexiglass! It looks like a great project for you.

  36. 42

    Sandi P. says

    Just remembered – Barbara who blogs at CatPatches and links up here on Mondays is currently doing this in blue. She might have some “voice of experience” hints. I also remembered that I had this basic embroidery stitch primer pinned on my pinterest board. Hope the link works for you

  37. 43


    I have just learned to do redwork this year and I love it!

    A good website for info is: Mary Corbett has a great site with videos of all the stitches you’d ever need to learn for embroidery plus free patterns too.

    I use any fabric that I can needle easily. My first project was on white high quality muslin, my second is on a white tone on tone and it’s working fine too.

    I use Embroidery Needles – Dritz makes a multi sized pack from size 5-10, I think I like the 7 or 8 size.
    I iron very lightweight fusible Pellon interfacing to the back of my prewashed fabric. This prevent stretching as you sew and also hides any knots and travelling stitches. You can cut it away after you are done with your block if you want to, or leave it in the quilt.

    Here’s where I am a renegade: I do not use a hoop! I find the interfacing stabilizes the fabric enough that my stitches look good and the fabric stays flat as I stitch. So try it both ways to see which you prefer. If you use a hoop you’ll need larger cut backgrounds so you can hoop it. Without a hoop I cut my background only about 2″ larger all around.

    For marking, so far I have used the Blue washout pen. I do not care for the red Pigma pen as I do not always stitch exactly on my drawn line. Sometimes I even skip something, so I don’t want permanent markings. Just keep that blue pen out of heat and sun!

    Thread: I use embroidery floss. Make sure you buy skeins that have the same dyelot number on them if possible. I have not had any bleeding at all with DMC. I get it at JoAnns.

    Most redwork is done in the stem stitch or outline stitch. Mostly it uses 2 strands — but tiny details can be worked in one strand. To get 2 strands, you ‘strip’ the floss. That means you cut a piece about 12-18″ long, and separate one tiny strand at a time (a full floss has 6 strands). You pull one strand from the top holding the floss til it all comes out the top. Only one strand at a time and it will never tangle. Lay that first strand down. Strip strand # 2 and lay it next to the #1. Make sure it’s oriented the same way and then thread both through your needle. I do a small quilters knot.

    When your block is done, if you used blue pen, soak it in COLD running water til the blue is totally out, then to dry you can air dry or press. To press, lay the redwork face down on a white surface (pressing cloth like white flannel scrap or terry towel is good) and cover it with another pressing cloth or white terry towel. DO NOT press until the blue pen is out!!

    Have fun! Redwork is a great to go project!! Can’t wait to see what you have made!!

  38. 44


    Lost of great tips here! I use any fine, soft cotton fabric, what I feel is most suitable for my project. Kona cotton snow is great.
    I don’t have a light box, but I use my acrylic sewingtable for my sewingmachine, putting a good light underneath, works just perfect as a lightbox!
    For tracing I use either a brown Pigma Micron pen size 0.1 or 0.05, or I use a Blue Fine Point Water Soluble Pen. Using the Pigma pen you need to have a quite steady hand when tracing, which means there’s no room for mistakes as the pen is permanent. If you are using the blue pen, you can do corrections while stitching, and wash out the blue line when your done stitching.
    I use a thin, iron on fucible interfacing on the back of the stitchery which prevents threads from showing off on the front.
    Embroidery floss, 2 strands, one strand if it is very fine details. Aurifil cotton Ne 12 is also a great thread for stitching.
    Knot or weaving, I do both.
    I will highly recommend using an embroidery frame while stirching, it gives you more even stitches, and prevents you from making to tight stitches which will give you a wrinkled stitchery.
    It is important to use a good needle. I will highly recommend
    Jeana Kimball’s Embroidery/Redwork needles, size 9. They are long needles, have a big eye, works just wonderful!
    Have a wonderful time while stitching!

  39. 45


    I love the SULKY THREAD too because you do not have to separate strands of embroider floss….one strand is thick enough…..

    Sounds like you have gotten lots of good advice! I have that same pattern! It is a great project to work on while you are in a PACKED STATE! 🙂

    Hope that rental works out for you!

    sao in Midlothian, VA

  40. 46

    Perry says

    I am doing Twas the Night before Christmas, been working on it off and on for two years now, and almost through. I used the #16 perle cotton in a red by Presencia because it doesn’t bleed. DMC red has a tendency to bleed. I used a good grade of muslin and sandwiched it with a thin pellon to RJR Hand Spray in the off white which gives me some shading and depth in the piece. Also by using a piece behind I hide the knots. I do use knots, too much trouble to weave. I traced it using a light box and a .01 pigma pen. Lots of fun. However now you can use Transfer Eze…..look it up, it is wonderful and for the pattern you are using will working perfectly.

  41. 47

    Perry says

    Forgot something, Southern Belle is a great muslin and will probably work well. For the muslin I used on the back of mine it may be Southern Belle because I did get it from a quilt store and it is a good grade. Couldn’t find the name on it though.

  42. 48

    Sheddy says

    I have one more block to embroider and I’ll have all the redwork done on this pattern. I used WOW and COC mostly from P&B Fabrics. On the back I used a cheap muslin, just to hide my stitches. Be sure to wash it first. Southern Belle is much too closely woven to do embroidery on. You’ll get frustrated. I also use 2 strands of embroidery floss and start with the long length and loop the first stitch through on the back. Good luck with this pattern. It’s been my carry along car project for about 2 years and I’m going to miss it when it’s done.

  43. 49


    I am working on HocusPocusville from the same company. I LOVE redwork, bluework, whatever color I am using. Here are some of the things I use for my projects:
    1. Kona cotton or Cream/Off white cotton. If not using Kona I baste a plain muslin to my background–it helps hide carry over threads and gives a little extra stability to the background.
    2. sulky cotton #12 is my favorite thread. I prefer it to embroidery floss.
    3. Transfer ease–a product that allows you to copy the pattern from a printer. You remove the backing and apply the sticky backed pattern directly on your fabric. When the stitching is complete, you soak the piece in cold water and it is gone. This is great time saver. If not available , trace pattern directly onto background fabric using a very fine pigma pen. #12 thread will cover the lines.
    4. Cut your background pieces a little larger (just like applique). you will get some distortion.
    5. #9 embroidery needle is my favorite–Jeanna Kimball brand

    My two favorite activities while in a car are: embroidery and knitting. We are planning a 5 hour road trip to PA tomorrow. I have a knitting project–ruffle scarf by Mac & Me and block 4 of hocuspocusville.

    I can’t wait to see your project.

    Good luck with the move. My thoughts and prayers have been with you. I can’t imagine the stress you are under.

  44. 50

    Barbara says

    wow – I just want to thank everybody for all the great suggestions and tips. Awesome amount of useful knowledge here.

    Thanks to all !

  45. 51

    Susan T says

    Looks like you have a ton of advice! I use a red pigma fine tip to mark my design. After marking, I fuse a light-weight interfacing to the back of the panel, to prevent show-through. I use regular embroidery thread, 2 strands and do not knot. I use a double length strand, threading the two ends through the eye of the needle. This forms a loop at the other end. Take your first stitch, then pull through the loop on the back. I weave the ends into the backs of previous stitches.
    I’ve seen this project, and it turns out beautifully!

  46. 52

    Nancy Y says

    I am almost finished with this quilt top. I think it is my favorite. I think it is better if you can see embroidery being done in person. I live less than 1 hour from you. As a going away gift, I would be more than happy to meet you and show in person.

  47. 53

    gwen says

    I have used floss and perle cotton and now am using Sulky 12wt 100% cotton. I love the look of it. Have done a redwork basket project and am doing Snowmen Playing by Freckles Collection in bluework. Snowmen A to Z is up next in blue. I may someday do Winter Wonderland. I like Kona white or snow, but have found that knots show through so back it with a second piece. I have another brand of 12 wt. that I’m looking forward to trying, but can’t reccomend it yet. This will be a fun project and a nice change from knitting. Will you be able to have your loom in the rental for another change of projects?

  48. 54


    Please do not use the Frixion pens for transferring patterns to fabric for Redwork – it will come back to haunt you. They have done studies on these pens and they are bad news. I have had very good results with the General pencils in red for transferring the pattern. The soft lead is just right and washes out.

    Sulky 12 wt, #713 1169 is the closest red color for Redwork. I also used, #713 1293, Nassau blue for my July UFO I just finished for this Winter Wonderland pattern. Excellent yarn.

    Highly recommend 100% cotton, fusible woven interfacing on the back of all your embroidery. May not have to use hoop.

    First stitch I take has a knot, then I weave all others for endings and beginnings.

    Happy stitching from Judy C in NC

  49. 55

    Toni in TN says

    The only thing I did differently was to use Hobbs Thermore batting behind each section. Carefully seperate into two layers. Even though this is super thin it is enough to hid the stitches. You won’t be able to use Transfer EZ as the sections are too large in Winter Wonderland. Also A friend is doing Snowy Days and used Transfer EZ. When she rinsed it off the printer ink ran and it was horrible. Try a test run on a scrap of your fabric before you do all that stitching! Just saying!

  50. 56

    Linda H says

    That looks like a good “waiting” project. And cute besides! Another fabric option would be something with a linen texture such as Kona. Some years back, I purchased a few yards of a linen texture that with a slightly antiqued appearance. It is not Kona, but I don’t remember what. I am liking working with it because it needles very nicely and does not shadow. When I choose embroidery fabric, I do a lot of touchy-feely to decide which has the best working texture. I’m a knotter; I learned that way, but if the project will not have a lot of heavy use, weaving would probably be sufficient. Likewise, I learned with 2 strands of floss, more or less, depending on the desired effect. I think the choice of thread or floss does depend on the desired effect. In my younger years, I used a sharp lead pencil to lightly mark the design; however, I need a darker guide these days. I found the Pigma pens hard to work with, altho I appreciated the non-bleed/smear aspect. I am now using a Pilot G-2 which marks more easily and is *supposed* to be bleed resistant. We’ll see. Easily marked lines are more accurate and more easily covered. My hi-tech light box is my sewing room window which doesn’t work well on a rainy day (or at night). I use a small hoop about the size of my hand span from thumb to pinkie because it is less tiring to work with –so I can work longer!
    I hope you enjoy this project. It looks like a fun one.

  51. 57


    I haven’t done redwork in years, but I did see a person demonstrate it on TV yesterday. (Kinda like I slept in a Holiday Inn last night!)

    This lady did the tracing lines with a red pigma pen becuase she was stitching in red. Then she did black pen for black threads and blue, of course for blue threads.

    That is the extent of my experience.


  52. 58


    I worked on this for my Christmas in July project. I spent half of June preparing all the blocks. I traced using those Pilot Frixion pens. I LOVE those pens. I did quite a bit of testing with them, and they’re great. I am using DMC slate blue perle cotton 12 wt. I really like it. I have 5 blocks done, and at the recommendation of a commenter on my blog, I’m now working on the largest block. I guess it’s easy to do all the small ones, then run out of steam for the big one…. The blocks take a lot longer to piece/sew than I expected. Since they are various fabrics and sizes etc. it’s friggy…. I recommend reading the pattern through and through… so you have a good idea what to do. I almost missed the fact that they called for two pieces of fabric basted together.

    I’m now using a 5.5″ spring hoop that I got at Michaels. It’s working really well for me since I can reach the middle of the hoop.

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    Knots: No I don’t know. Choice A: Waste knot. Tie a knot in end of floss. Enter front of fabric three to four inches from first stitch. Begin stitching. At end of stitching, weave in ends (in and out of stitches on back–pretty easy if doing outline or stem stitch on the front). Cut waste knot (just the knot). Re thread the needle with the three or four inches and weave that under stitches on the back. Begin with a waste knot once again whenever there is a gap of 1/2 inch or more between new stitching and previous stitching.
    Choice B: Cut one ply of floss (or one piece of perle coton) twice the length from fingertips to elbow. Fold the floss with two ends together and thread ends through eye of needle, leaving the loop formed by the fold hanging free. Enter fabric from the backside; take one stitch; bring the needle through the loop and gently tighten. Then continue stitching. (This method is eschewed by fiber purists because they say the looped floss means the fibers of each piece are going in opposite directions.)
    Floss: My grandmother used two ply of cotton embroidery floss–and one ply for very tiny detailed work. (She did both redwork and bluework.)
    Perle cotton: Size 12.
    Fabric: My grandmother used a very fine white cotton (always Cloth’o’Gold brand). I prefer Kona cotton. At some point I’m going to try printed cotton (probably pale beige on white) and back it with either a fine interfacing/stabilizer or wash-away stabilizer. I do recommend cutting the fabric larger just as when doing applique.
    Also: I’ve done “redwork” using hand-dyed variegated floss (Weeks and/or Needle Necessities).
    I do use an embroidery hoop. If I use a wooden hoop and the project will take me a while, I place tissue paper on front and back of fabric, hoop it, and tear it away from the working area. (That is so I can keep it taut and not have to worry about any acids from wood affecting the fabric.)
    Marking the fabric: My grandma used perforated patterns (I don’t know if she perforated them herself or bought them that way–they can be perforated by sewing the lines with an unthreaded sewing machine–could also be done by using one of those old fashioned spoked pattern wheels that we used for decades for clothing–would just need to place the paper pattern on a padded surface first.) She rubbed the paper with a blue chalk and the design transferred through the holes to her fabric. Looking at her old patterns I can tell she used water on the patterns because I can see the rub marks–but I don’t know if that was to transfer the design or to remove the chalk–I suspect the former. (I never met her–she died in 1932.)

    I used the water erasable blue marker. I pulled out the marked squares several years ago, thought “I really need to finish these,” put them away, and now I’ll have to remark them all. Alas! (I had not heard of marking them in the color to be used for stitching until I read this blog post–so I’ve learned something too!)
    Size 12 perle cotton works and if all the work is in the same color, it’s still economical. Love the Presencia brand.
    Hope that helps.

  54. 60

    Karen says

    Judy, I love doing redwork or any kind of embroidery for that matter. I use Kona cotton when I’m not using something from my stash. I’ve used muslin and also white on white fabric. I usually trace the design with a wash out pen.

  55. 61

    Betty B says

    I have done a lot of rework in the past and have just finished the emb. on Over the Meadow and Through the Woods using dark brown. Southern Belle is great to work on and so is Kona. I avoid white on white as it is difficult to needle through. I use fine Pigma red or brown to trace design. Tape design to light box, tape fabric on top and relax as you trace the design. I line my embroidery with a lightweight muslin, basting around edges and through design to prevent shifting. Sulky 12 wt is great and so is DMC. I start with a knot and it does not show through. Remember to remove your hoop at the end of stitching every day. This will be a great project to work on to keep your hands and mind busy. Good luck to you and Vince during the move!

  56. 63

    Deb says

    There is a product called Transfer Eze. has it under their wool felt needful things. You use it with your printer by making a copy. When you’re done, you place it water and the design dissolves. Great product.

  57. 64


    I’m doing that pattern right now in blue. I put muslin behind my cream or white fabric to keep the stitching from showing through. (I confess to being sort of a sloppy embroidery person. I don’t worry about things that don’t show, and so I’m prone to traveling.) I did tie a knot in mine. There are parts of the stitchery that are simply so intricate that if you tried to do it without traveling, it would be extremely tedious. But that’s just me.

    I pulled blues from my stash. I used a fine point blue pigma pen (red ones are available) to draw my stitcheries onto the fabric. Again, I’m not a perfectionist, and my tracing isn’t perfect. I stitched wherever I drew, and I like the “rustic” look of my stitcheries. You have to decide how perfect you want to be with it. I’m using two strands of embroidery floss. The instructions inside the pattern are fairly detailed on all of these items.

    I used cream and white tone on tones for my stitcheries. The more “tone” on the “tone,” the more difficult it is to draw the stitcheries, so keep the fabric design simple. Some are done in whites and some in creams, and the pattern specifies this.

    BTW, I’ve done this for me 2011 UFO Challenge. If you look back at my linkies for Barbara from OR, you can see my progress and that might help some. You can also go to my blog and do a search for “Winter Wonderland” to see my posts about it. There are many.

    Have fun! The stitcheries go faster than you might imagine. Mine is close to being finished. Very exciting.

  58. 65


    Wow, I’ve learned a lot but I have too many cross stitch and needlepoint projects to get done before I try redwork.

    When I have done crossstitch or needlework projects, I do not know the yarn but leave enough of a tail to then work that under the stitches. When I finish, I weave the last bit of the yarn in the back.

    I have used yarn for the needlepoint, but have found the pearl cotton to be so nice to work with. so, future projects will probably be with pearl cotton.

  59. 66

    Doris - The Quilting Queen says

    I’m doing this right now only in blue. I’m using a moda basic white tone on tone snowflakes and backing it with white flannel. I’m using embroidery floss. I’m no expert on embroidery that’s for sure. I also used a pigma pen in blue so it blends in if I don’t embroidery exactly on the lines. And I knot on the back. It’s too much effort to weave the tail in I think and with the flannel it doesn’t seem to show either. Will be happy to show you when you get to Brownwood. 😮

  60. 67


    I love embroidery, but I’ve never done redwork. I’ve never ever ever started/ended with knots, because all my embroidery growing up was for competitions in school and you got penalized for knots! I just catch my thread under my first couple of stitches and leave it at that. Never had a problem.

  61. 68

    Omajean says

    I have this pattern on my to do list. I love it. I also want to do the Over the River one–it is beautiful. I would direct you to Cinderberry Stitches (Natalie Lymer’s) blog for information. At the top of her page there is a Fun Torials tab and under that she shows how to do her favorite stitch. On the left hand side of her page she has sewing FAQ’s where she talks about what she uses to stitch the designs. I follow what she suggests. Right now I am working on a set of Halloween pictures that were iron on transfers. It is a great take along project!!

  62. 69

    Linda says

    I LOVE this quilt…someone at my guild showed it at show and tell….beautiful!
    I’d give you advice but I haven’t done much redwork…and lots of people are much better than me. Great take along project I would think though…hopefully relaxing!

  63. 70

    FrancesB says

    Should be a fun project. For transferring the design, I have used the Pigma Micron .005 (yes, .005!) in brown –this makes a very fine, permanent line. I agree with others about using two layers of fabric (kona, moda basics, or whatever is your choice), with the back layer being washed and pressed muslin. After transferring your design to your fabric, baste it to the muslin; the more you baste, the better the outcome. I like the 12 wt. sulky cotton and also the Cosmo floss which comes on spool; it’s two ply and ready to go! There is a good website with lots of embroidery ‘how to’ videos, including the “waste knot” which someone previously mentioned as being a good way to start your embroidery. Here is the link:
    Happy stitching. (you need happy 🙂 )

  64. 71

    Deb Myers says

    sulky 12 weight…comes in a spool (versus a skein…) for thread

    crabapple hill has THE most amazing, beautiful, breath-taking designs ever….works of art when finished!

    good luck with the project…sounds like a embrodery-a-long is hatching!!

  65. 72

    Linda says

    Hi Judy: I have been following your blog for a while from So Cal. Many sympathies. I am responding because of your questions about the redwork project. I am almost complete with this one. I used a variety of off white and white with subtle prints (not the inked on white on white I don’t like); one was a snow drift with animal foot prints, some variegated off white coloring, and some muslin, etc.) I backed mine with a think batting. I used quilting pins to baste the muslin to the back on the back side so that it would not catch in my thread. I used perle cotton #8 with a back stitch rather than outline (for a more primitive look). I used a mechanical pencil with a light touch to trace on the pattern with a light box. Easy to see and will wash off but not obvious if I miss a stitch. Worked great for me. The embroider is fun and portable. My center is all together and the red and white squares are complete. Just need to put them into the borders and sew it on. Other projects in line ahead of this right now but close to my heart! Good luck with yours…and the house hunt.

  66. 73

    Connie says

    come here and I’ll have a friend of mine who is an embroidery guru teach you everything you need to know. Any fabric is fine, we trace with just a regular old mechanical pencil, just don’t go too dark, then we back it with pellon 911, this will help hide any knots and stitches you don’t want showing through. Try different flosses and perle cottons and figure out what you like best. Just like thread for quilting and piecing everyone has a preference.

  67. 74


    I too have this pattern and really want to do it. Just don’t know quite when – I have so many irons in the fire – don’t want to start another one. The tips from everyone have been so helpful – I bet yours will turn out to be great. At least it will help to take you mind off all the other chaos in your life. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed that you will find the right house for you once you get to Texas. Don’t know that you will miss the snow but won’t have as much as we have up here. Hang in there kiddo – it will all work out in the end.

  68. 75

    Kathy C says

    I did Crabapple Hill’s “Over the River” wall hanging two years ago. I used ‘good’ muslin, perle cotton, and just traced the embroidery pattern onto the fabric with a thin sharpie (the embroidery was black so I used a black pen. Just make sure to read the directions use a double layer of fabric. The back layer doesn’t have to be a better muslin. It will keep stray threads from showing through, since I sometimes cross my threads in the back.
    I must say the finished product looks teriffic, much better than my embroidery does close up. I learned how to embroider when I was 10 so my skills are not exceptional by any stretch of the imagination.
    I am doing a redwork project right now. They are Christmas stockings that will have quilted backs.
    You can also use Transfer-eze which is a printable that you can put through your printer. The nice thing is that the product you print on is sticky backed and you just peel it off the backing and put it on your fabric and then embroider right on it. THEN, it is water soluble and will wash right out. BUT it is expensive and it only comes in 8×10 sheets.
    Good luck. It will go quicker than you think. And… it is nice portable handwork.

  69. 76

    Lynn Miller says

    I have done lots of redwork over the years. A couple of tips–always cut your blocks at least 2 inches bigger than the finished block, if 12 inch finished, work with a 14 inch block. After the embroidery is complete press face down on a piece of terry cloth. This will make your work stand up and not get flatten by pressing, then trim it to the correct size. The Kona Cotton as others have recommend is a nice weight for redwork. Stay away from anything that has the painted tone on tone look. Very hard to embroider through. I have never used an interfacing on my blocks, the trick is to NOT carry the threads a long distance on the back. Knot your work and start new. Whenever possible I use the technique describe where you use one long thread and make the loop. Which means your using two strands of floss. Weaving as much as possible to end with one or two tailor knots. I think a hoop makes your work a lot neater and the piece is easier to handle. I have never had a problem with the DMC embroidery floss running. I only like the 498 color for redwork. And I use the red Pigma fine point pen to transfer using a light box or window. I love always having a handwork project like redwork. So easy to pick up and get to work. In fact I have lots of blocks finished that have yet been made into the finished quilt top!

  70. 77

    Mel Meister says

    I’m doing this in blues. I haven’t embroidered since I was a kid, so it’s like I’m starting over again, too. Not sure on my fabric yet, it might be Kona snow and various white on whites for the blocks.

    I am going to use either perle cotton or embroidery floss in a dark blue. Not sure which yet.

    I will be stabilizing the fabric with a featherweight iron on stabilizer as well as the muslin backing.

  71. 78


    Transfereze is a great product, but not for everybody. Try one piece using this. It is a very time saving thing and if you like it, well, you don’t have any tracing to do. Otherwise, try a stylish with graphite paper (used by architects). I bought mine at Hobby Lobby. This works great too, but the lines lighten up, but don’t go away completely, so you will want to be accurate with drawing and stitching. Also, there’s a new product out there, pens, called Frixion, made by Pilot. I just started using them and LOVE them. You as a longarm quilter would probably benefit from them quite a bit. The markings disappear with heat, an iron or dryer. And there are several colors you can use.

    As far as threads, it’s really a personal choice. I did “Winter Wonderland” up using a slightly darker red embroidery floss than they call for on the pattern. I used 2 threads and it worked great, but I had several of our club members use Presencia floss or Lecien floss and loved them. The Lecien flosses are variegated, but were wonderful looking. Both are more expensive though, but when you think about how much work you put into something like that, it’s so worth it.

    One last thing, we used a Bella solid for the stitching blocks (parchment), but used several white on whites or cream on creams, along with several red prints for the patchwork blocks. To get them to intermingle well with each other, we tan dyed our quilt when we were done. It looks very old now, but lovely.

    Good luck with the house and we’re praying for you.

  72. 79

    Jackie says

    OTR&TTW pattern, floss, & fabric are bagged and in line waiting for me to finish something. I purchased the Solvy sticky washable from Bird Brain Designs. They give hints on their website about using it for larger or smaller designs. Thanks for the tip about washing it out on a trial project. Let’s see. Where do I put the trial project in this line of “to dos”?

  73. 80

    Geneva says

    Judy, I have a question for you about applying binding. I watched yours on machine. You mentioned sharp little pins. I must not have the right ones. Would you please tell me the right ones to buy. The back is not coming out all even.
    Thank you,
    Geneva in Morgan City, Louisiana

  74. 81

    Peggy says

    I purchased Sulky 12 weight in cranberry color. You only have to use one strand and its very nice when finished.
    Is your pattern not already on the fabric? If not I wouldn’t use the red marker because it could run.
    The embroidery will be very relaxing for you. Good Luck
    I know that Rocking Chair Quilt on the square in Butler Mo has the Sulky thread.