by Jan Rapacz
Notes to Instructors & Shop Owners
Redwork is very easy to learn! For this reason, it is an ideal technique for make-it/take-it sessions and one-session classes. These classes give your students an opportunity to try, and fall in love with, a new technique, without an intimidating time commitment. This brings in students/customers who otherwise might not be able to attend.
Class Description: Introduction to Redwork
1 session, 2 hours. Learn the basics of redwork embroidery, and begin a picture for a nursery or a child's room. This class is easily promoted by hanging a sample picture in the shop (the sample makes up quite quickly). You could also hang a sample in your local baby/children's boutique to bring new customers into your shop.
Student Supply List
A note about supplies: I've found it more effective to provide kits, for a fee, than to have each student bring her own supplies. That way I know everyone has what she needs, and supplies are consistent. Since redwork supplies are relatively inexpensive, assembling kits is not cost-prohibitive. And, especially for a one-session class, the students really appreciate being able to just "show up" without preparation.
- Required textbook: Teddy Bear Redwork by Jan Rapacz
- 12" x 12" square of muslin
- 20" x 20" square of white cotton fabric (preshrunk)
- needle - size 8 - embroidery or sharps
- 3 skeins of red floss
- A copy of one Teddy Bear block - "Say Goodnight" and "Say Your Prayers" are ideal
- scissor or snips
- embroidery hoop
- fine lead pencil
Instructor Supply List
- Extra needles in various sizes - many students lose their needle, or want to try a different size
- Needle threaders
- Optional: light boxes
I find it easier to transfer the pattern to the fabric before the class. If class size is small, and light boxes are available, the students can do this during class. However, I find that students would rather "jump in" to actual embroidery, and taking the time to transfer the pattern tends to dampen their enthusiasm.
- Explain what "redwork" means. Show examples. Show the book. Introduce the project.
- Brief history of redwork (page 4). Show an example of vintage redwork, if available.
- Materials and tools: fabric, needles, floss, hoop (pages 5 and 6). Stress pre-shrinking fabric.
- Stitches, and beginning and ending floss (pages 8-9):
— Stress stripping floss, as many beginning stitchers have never done this before, and it really does make a difference in stitch quality.
— Students use the muslin square for practicing the stitches.
— Many students fear French knots, probably because the way the stitch has been taught to them in the past has caused frustration. Demonstrate the French knot to one or two students at a time, while the other students are practicing the outline stitch.
- Practice time, and pattern transfer (page 7). If you have already transferred the pattern to the fabric, this section can be very brief, referring students to the book for future reference. If not, students should take turns transferring the project pattern while the other students are practicing their stitches.
- Work on the project:
— Get students started on the project. Reassure them that they are not expected to finish in class.
— While students stitch, cover pressing, cleaning, storage, and display (pages 9-11).
— If you will be offering the Redwork Quilt class as an extension of this class, discuss that option.
Class Description - Redwork Quilt
3 sessions, 2 hours each. This class can be offered independently of the Intro to Redwork class, or as an optional extension of that class.
Note that the 20" x 20" square that was embroidered in the Intro class can be trimmed to fit as a block in any of the quilts in the book. The Crib Quilt, the Irish Chain Quilt, and the All Year Wall Quilt can all be taught in a 3-session class. Or, for a simpler project, one 12" block can be bordered by 3" sashing and 3" corner squares for a quilted pillow.
Supplies depend on the project, and are listed in the book. Again, pre-prepared kits are easier for the student than just providing them a list of supplies.
Session 1 - Redwork
This is the same as the Intro to Redwork class. Homework is completing the redwork embroidery for the project. Allow an adequate time span between sessions 1 and 2. For a one-block pillow, students may only need a week - for the Crib Quilt, several months.
Session 2 - Patchwork
Beginning quilters can complete the one-block pillow top in this session. For the quilts, students assemble one block in class, and the rest of the assembly is homework. Again, allow adequate time between sessions 2 and 3 for the completion of the patchwork.
Session 3 - Quilting
These projects can be machine or hand quilted. Teach the technique, and the students complete the project at home. Since the projects will not be completed in class, take this opportunity to photograph the class with their completed quilt tops (the tops photograph just as well as the completed quilts).
Block-of-the-Month and Block-of-the-Season Programs
Block-of-the-month programs bring customers into the shop on a regular basis. The Teddy Bear Crib Quilt (page 13) has 12 blocks that are ideal for a block-of-the-month program. Not everyone can commit the time for a block of the month, so consider doing a block-of-the-season program instead or in addition. The Teddy Bears All Year wall quilt has four blocks that refer to the four seasons. Start the program after offering the Introduction to Redwork class. At the end of the program, offer sessions 2 and 3 of the Redwork Quilt class.