Free Redwork Embroidery Patterns and Designs

If you enjoy embroidery or are just starting to embroider, redwork embroidery is an excellent change of pace and a good way to learn to embroider!

This page has an explanation of redwork embroidery, as well as free redwork embroidery patterns.  

I am currently working on a blue redwork embroidery design of adorable snow people which will eventually become a winter table runner as a gift for my mom.  Although this is called redwork, the snow people design is in blue, which is called blue redwork.

What is redwork?

Redwork is an American form of embroidery developed in the 19th century. It was very popular from about 1880-1920.  Redwork embroidery was done only in red stitching since red dyes were the first colorfast dyes available for purchase.

As redwork embroidery became increasingly popular, women started using this type of embroidery to embellish items like pillowcases, table cloths, dishtowels, quilt blocks and anything else they felt would benefit from this decoration.

Close up of panel from a Redwork bed cover, made by the Busy Bees of Shevlin, Minnesota, 1908. Featured on the Minnesota Historical Society's Collections Up Close blog.Close up of panel from a redwork bed cover (Shevlin, 1908). Now in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.[1]. License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Redwork embroidery designs were often given to children in the form of “penny squares”.  These were squares of fabric with a preprinted design and were used to teach kids the art of embroidery. The squares are aptly named since they cost a penny each.

Often, when the children had made enough squares, the penny squares would be stitched together to form a bed covering.

Redwork embroidery designs are still most often worked on muslin or other white fabric, so the red embroidery floss is stark and vivid against the background fabric. 

What stitches do you use in redwork?

Embroidery redwork uses very few stitches, which makes it great for those just learning to embroider.

Redwork embroidery designs are outlined with little to no filled areas.  The free redwork embroidery patterns on this page are, therefore, quick and simple to complete!

One of the main stitches used in redwork embroidery is the stem stitch, also known as the outline or back stitch. Because the redwork embroidery designs are outlined, this is the stitch most often used.

Other stitches include the satin stitch, which is used to fill small spaces in the design. There is also the split stitch, and French knots are used to add small details to the redwork embroidery.

This page is full of resources to learn the basic stitches used in redwork embroidery!

Scroll down for free redwork embroidery patterns, tutorials for the stitches used, and more history of this striking form of embroidery. If you are interested in redwork products, take a look to see all that is available.

Free Redwork Embroidery Patterns and Designs

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An Introduction to Redwork Embroidery

Learn basic information about redwork embroidery. Needlework Tips and Techiques

Backstitch (Video)

Backstitch (Video)

This video will show you how to hand embroider the backstitch which is a common outline stitch used in counted cross stitch and embroidery.

Barn Owl

Grandma Rachel’s free redwork pattern of an owl. Grandma's Attic Quilting

Bird in Birdcage Redwork Design

Are you into machine embroidery? Cute Embroidery has a free redwork machine embroidery design for you. Cute Embroidery

Bird-In-Tree Quaker Motif

Mary Corbet of Needle 'n Thread offers this free bird on a branch redwork pattern. Needle 'n Thread

Bluework Sailor Boy Pillow Pattern

Bluework Sailor Boy Pillow Pattern #ad

Here is a free pattern download for a cute little sailor boy. Affiliate Link to Connecting Threads

Chicken Weathervane Pattern

Stitch a cute chicken in traditional redwork. Coloring Home

Dearie Dolls Digi Stamps

On this website, you will find several free cute designs which can be used for redwork embroidery. Free Dearie Dolls Digi Stamps

Designs - Redwork

Over a dozen redwork block designs - free. Sentimental Stitches

Feathered Heart Pillow

A quick and easy redwork pillow is embellished with red iron-on thread. Kreink

Floral Redwork Quilt

Here is a freebie block of the month bouquet of flowers floral embroidery designs that after stitching can be finished into a quilt. Sew Home Grown

Free Redwork Embroidery Patterns

Here are a lot of designs that can be incorporated into redwork. With Heart and Hands

French Knot (Video)

French Knot (Video)

A tutorial on how to do the French knot.

Fun with Redwork Machine Embroidery Designs

Embroidery machines make Redwork embroidery a quick way to dress up fabric without having to do hand embroidery. Learn more in this article about how to ME Redwork design. Let's Go Sew

Just Be Claus

Create a FREE RedWork Christmas Ornament featuring this Santa pattern. Bird Brain Designs

Lazy Daisy Stitch for Hand Embroidery

Lazy Daisy Stitch for Hand Embroidery

Learn how to do the lazy daisy stitch with this video and photo tutorial.

Machine Embroidery and Redwork

Yes, you can use your embroidery machine to make redwork projects. Seasoned Homemaker

Modern Redwork Table Runner

This Modern Redwork Table runner was a simple and fun project to showcase machine redwork embroidery. Learn how to make it. We All Sew

Mother Hen Design

This free Mother Hen design resembles the style of original redwork designs Needlework Tips and Techniques

Mr. Snowman Redwork Pattern PDF

Free redwork pattern from Redwork plus Designs. Redwork plus

Mrs. Snowman Redwork Pattern PDF

Free pattern from Redwork plus Designs. Redwork plus


How to do redwork embroidery. Phoebe Moon

Redwork Block of the Month

Embroider a different redwork block for each month and then make them into a quilt. Redwork

Redwork Chicken Tea Towel

Here is a fun addition to the kitchen, a redwork chicken tea towel. Get the free chicken pattern. The Good Hearted Woman

RedWork Designs & Pillowcases

Bird Brain Designs has a large selection of redwork designs. Bird Brain Designs

Redwork Embroidery - Sew Guide

Redwork work embroidery is a simple embroidery technique in which outlines of designs are made with stem stitch in only red embroidery thread. Learn more here. Sew Guide

Redwork Lesson

In this tutorial, Sarah shows the step-by-step process of how I went about finishing a cute design from the thread used to the stitches. Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials

Redwork Machine Embroidery Designs & History

Redwork Then & Now! Have you ever wondered where redwork stems from? What is the history of redwork, and why is it so commonly used in embroidery and quilting today? Digitizing Made Easy

Redwork Sailor Girl Pillow Pattern

Redwork Sailor Girl Pillow Pattern #ad

Cute and sassy free redwork little sailor girl design that can be made into a pillow to add a maritime touch to your decor. Affiliate Link to Connecting Threads

Running Stitch

Running Stitch #ad

Instructions, illustations and video. Affiliate Link to Annie's Craft Store

Snow Buddies Patterns PDF

This free download contains three snowman embroidery patterns. American Patchwork and Quilting

Snowman and Christmas Tree

This simple coloring page works as a redwork design.

Split Stitch

Written instructions, along with drawing and photo to make the split stitch that looks like a tiny chain stitch. Impressive yet simple to do. Sublime Stitching

Stem Stitch

Stem Stitch #ad

Illustration, instructions and video describing how to make the common stitch primarily used for outlining. Affiliate Link to Annie's Craft Store

Straight Stitch

Straight Stitch #ad

Illustration, instructions and video showing how to create the straight stitch, which is the basis of many hand-embroidery stitches. Affiliate Link to Annie's Craft Store

Strawberries Pattern

A free redwork design you can enjoy from Bird Brain Designs. Bird Brain Designs

Sunbonnet Babies and Chickens

Sunbonnet Sue, is a popular design that has been around for many years. This free redwork pattern is ideal for adding to a tea towel or even a quilt panel. Needle Work

The History of Redwork Embroidery

Learn the history of Redwork. Redwork Plus

This and That Redwork Patterns

This and That Redwork Patterns #ad

With the patterns, make a sweet little quilt that combines soft animal shapes with basic quilt block designs. Affiliate Link to Connecting Threads

Vintage Redwork Designs - Free

At Pattern Bee find some free redwork designs. Pattern Bee

Watermelon Pattern

This free pattern would look adorable on a kitchen towel. Bird Brain Designs

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