Ok, prepare yourself for some Serious Cuteness! Jenny McWhinney’s new book, The Redwork Circus, is just exactly that – seriously cute!
I should start with a little caveat: I do not, as a rule, like clowns. I have a huge aversion to them, like some people have an aversion to snakes or spiders or slippery eels. Clowns in parades, clowns in children’s books, clowns in movies (whether creepy or not), me as a clown on Halloween as a kid … I just have never liked clowns.
But when I saw The Redwork Circus sneaking out onto the market, I discovered clowns that I actually do like. This book is adorable.
Redwork is a style of surface embroidery wherein the stitching (mostly very simple surface embroidery stitches) is all done in red thread. Redwork has a classic, vintage feel to it, and Jenny McWhinney has caught that feeling – along with a good dose of whimsey – in her new book, The Redwork Circus.
Redwork is often seen in conjunction with quilting. The book focuses on some quilting-related projects, but many of the projects in it (there are 9 projects altogether) are not necessarily quilting, per se. They certainly have all the charm associated with quilting, though.
The projects include a nine block quilt (kind of the “feature” project in the book), along with a cushion, a library bag, a doorstop, place mats, and so on.
Each project includes, of course, a redwork embroidery focal point, featuring charming little clowns and their quirky playmates.
After the introduction, the book launches right into useful tips to get you started stitching the redwork projects within. All the preliminary information you need to know is found right at the front of the book, from information on threads…
… to useful fabric talk. In fact, reading the section on fabric is helpful, whether you’re going to stitch the projects in the book or use the designs for your own projects. Jenny covers lots of good information on choosing fabrics for redwork projects.
Other tips at the beginning include needful information on tracing patterns and transferring designs.
Each project in the book has its own little section, covering the project from start to finish. Included are all the instructions for stitching the redwork designs, as well as thorough instruction on creating the finished product.
I’m not exactly a quilter myself – and I only just sew (the straight seam is my friend – anything else, I view with trepidation). But when I went through the projects and read the instructions, I felt that even I could tackle the finish work on them. They are not super complex sewing projects, but they are clever finishes for showing off the darling designs offered in the book.
Most of the instruction (including the stitching instruction) is presented in water color drawings, rather than in photos.
The drawings and diagrams are clear, so although you might not see a step-by-step unfolding of every aspect of each project, you are given plenty to work with to ensure your successful completion of the projects, both in the text and through the visual aids.
Another point about the drawings throughout the book – they contribute to the magic of the book. The whole book is a delightful work of art!
The fabric layout, cutting instructions, and assembly instructions are all given for each project.
And each project includes a stitch guide that breaks down every part of the embroidered design, with the appropriate color number, number of strands required, and the stitch type.
But really, the most captivating part of The Redwork Circus is the redwork circus itself! These happy little clowns – they have a frolicking, funny friendliness about them – and their playmates (dogs of various sorts and other little critters) are what make the book. Every time I look through the book, I find myself smiling. I want to stitch all of these little fellows and make other people happy, too!
The patchwork quilt is the highlight of the book. This is where the redwork comes together in abundance. I suppose I’m a sucker for red (ok, I know I am!). I think this quilt is such a delight! It is cheery and cheeky and fun!
Do you love pugs?
The back of the book contains all the cutting patterns for the various projects, and of course, all the embroidery patterns, which are presented in clear line drawings ready to trace.
There are several pages of clowns and cohorts in the back of the book, and you can always combine the little guys and their friends to create your own little scene.
The snail cracks me up! This is what I mean about whimsical – they’re all cute, they’re all humorous, but it takes that special little unexpected something to bring about the right touch of cheerful whimsy. And Jenny McWhinney always hits the mark with her clever artwork!
You’ll also find, in the back of the book, stitch diagrams for the recommended stitches. The nice thing about redwork is that the stitches are not complicated – it relies pretty much on the most basic embroidery stitches. The colors are limited, too (although Jenny does mix different degrees of red in each design), and this combination of basic stitches and limited colors for pleasing results makes redwork a very fun and relaxing style of embroidery.
I do so want to make something out of this book! I can see a little clown scene worked out in red at the base of a winter white twill little girl’s jumper (as in dress), with jumbo red ric-rac peaking out below the hem… Hmmmmm…… the gears are turning!
You can find The Redwork Circus on Jenny McWhinney’s website, which is located in Australia.