Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Hungarian Redwork Runner – Halfway! and Beyond!


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This Hungarian Redwork Runner project is really quite enjoyable.

I know! I know! It looks like it would be monotonous! I thought that by now, I’d be bored with it and barely pushing myself to pick it up occasionally. But in fact, I love sneaking 15 Minutes here and there to work on it. And because it’s easy to transport, I can grab it and take it with me hither and yon, when venturing out.

It’s proved to be a nice little companion.

Hungarian Redwork Runner Embroidery Project

Errr…. “little companion” is inaccurate. This isn’t what I’d call a “little” piece. After working on 1″ – 2″ little embroidered things quite a bit this past year, every time I picked up the Hungarian runner (which has a 15″ x 36″ embroidered area), it felt like a behemoth.


Ginormous, as my niece would say.

But the stitchery itself is quite easy – just two stitches, the Hungarian braided chain stitch and regular chain stitch. So reaching the half-way point wasn’t exactly hard work.

And, in fact, I’ve even gone beyond the halfway point.

Hungarian Redwork Runner Embroidery Project

No, no!! Not THAT far beyond!!

Ah, Photoshop. You have taken away that delightful surprise at the end, when the Whole is revealed. Still… it was fun to see what it will look like! And in Photoshopping the half into a whole, I discovered that I’ve actually missed a couple curlicues. Can you find them?

One reader asked a very good question – why did I leave a big blank space in the middle of the runner? Why the rectangular white area, and not solid embroidery?

Well, since this is a table runner, and since we usually have a centerpiece in the middle of the table – bowls of fresh flowers, candles, sometimes a fruit bowl – the white area gives plenty of room to arrange something pretty in there, without the centerpiece sitting on the embroidery.

I suppose not everyone uses centerpieces, though, and without a centerpiece, this big open space might look rather silly. If you’re not a centerpiece person and you want to make the runner, I’d suggest fiddling with the embroidery pattern to create more of a continuous filled area.

Hungarian Redwork Runner Embroidery Project

So, the runner is beyond the half-way point now, and I’m not tired of it yet! Can’t wait to get the embroidery finished so that I can show you the finish work. I’ve got some edge plans!

Hungarian Redwork Runner Embroidery Project

Two additional points:

On ironing: I ironed the finished half, so that I could get some decent photos. When ironing something like this, use a padded surface (I explain about ironing embroidery in this article), and iron on the back, with the embroidery face down on the padded surface. Normally, I don’t like ironing a piece I haven’t washed, but this piece is pretty clean, so I’m not too worried about it. If you have any areas on your embroidery that are soiled (especially hoop mark areas), do not iron it until it has been washed well.

On thread: I’ll run out of red coton a broder 25 before I’m finished. I started with six skeins, and I have one full skein and a tiny bit on a second skein left. So getting to the half-way point requires about 4.5 skeins of DMC coton a broder 25 in color 321.

I know there are some folks out there working on this project, too – I’ve heard from two ladies from South Africa, a couple Australians and a few Americans. How’s it going? If you’re working on it, I’d love to hear your progress!

If you want to follow along with the Hungarian Redwork Runner project from start to finish, including set up and how-to along the way, visit the Hungarian Redwork Runner project index, where you’ll find all articles related to the project listed chronologically.


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(15) Comments

  1. Dear Mary,
    How lovely! I would love to try making this myself I aboslutely love number 25 thread and I’ve been practicing with the Hungarian Chain Stitch, it is a lot of fun.
    I think the blank space in the middle is perfect I myself enjoy a good center-piece in fact I don’t know anyone in my family who doesn’t. I might try it sometime this summer.
    Thanks Mary and as always keep up the good work!

  2. I looked for quite a while, but I couldn’t find any missed curliques in the photoshopped piece. They must be tiny!

    I can see that you are having fun, though. I have been letting my blog slide recently, with other things going on in my personal life. Reading your post, though, has inspired me to refocus. It’s time to look for the fun again!

  3. The white in the middle made immediate sense to me! My salt and pepper shakers are always falling over when I put them on embroidered parts of runners! And they spritz salt and pepper…. then I have to take everything off…. shake out the runner….. put it back….. put everything back on it…… oops! it happens again….. etc.!!!

  4. Dear Mary

    It’s looking good and I can’t wait to see the completed Hungarian runner, I like the idea of leaving room for a centre piece. You have inspired me and I’m thinking of doing a similar project for Christmas, I like the idea of using coton a broder red thread but perhaps a different design. Keep going you will get there!

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. I am working on a large tablecloth. The first time I’ve ever tackled something this big. I FINALLY finished the flowers around the edge, and I am starting on the flowers in the middle. I’m not tired of it, but I am anxious to get on to my next project — my first sampler.

  6. Yes, I found them but they are not very obvious unless you search for them and even then, they are hard to find. Are you going to fix them or are you going to leave them as part of the “Nobody but God is perfect so leave an error to prove that” school of thought?

    1. Hi, Shere’e – Since the piece isn’t finished yet, I’ll definitely stitch them in. There are plenty of other imperfections on the piece, though – so I might as well take care of this one! I really did not notice them at all until I photoshopped the half image into the whole, and then it stood out…. ~MC

  7. I’m working on it too. Not as far along as you are but moving forward. I take it with me when I know I will have time and light to stitch. Impresses my friends!

    I ordered much more coton a broder at the start. Such a pretty color and I love red. Leftovers will be used up sometime.

    Get one of those plastic ball things for holding the purl cotton while you work. Bird Brain Designs has them. Avoids runaway thread balls.

    Elaine in New Mexico

  8. I like the solid red with the heavier stitches; it gives it a bit of texture. That’s a great take along project, I may just have to start something like that. My mother says I look like an old lady if I stitch in public. Well, I’m not exactly a spring chicken :).

  9. Now that was fun. What’s Wrong with this Picture? game. I did find the missing curls. But you can say they aren’t missing. You’re just at the halfway mark and you’re finishing up the last few bits. It would drive me bonkers to ignore them and they won’t take long to stitch in.

    I have so much trouble pressing my stitching and getting all the tiny wrinkles out from between the stitched areas. Thankfully my stitching generally involves stretching it for framing or stuffing it with a pillow form. That helps a lot. Your ironed section looks great.

  10. G’day Mary,
    Showing the completed runner would be a good April 1st trick. You tricked me! I thought ‘Oh, THAT Mary’! : )
    I didn’t even try to look for the missing curlithingies. I believe everything you say…and I don’t have my glasses on!
    Even without needing a space for a centre piece, I think it would be overload if the centre was filled. The blank centre compliments, the embroidery, especially with it all being that wonderful red. Like a red cardinal in the snow. The snow makes the cardinal colour sing, and the cardinal itself too probably, even more that amongst green foliage would.
    The runner is looking amazing.
    Cheers, Kath.

  11. Thank you for sharing this design, I am hoping to start this evening, I have my linen prepared and marked. I am relatively new to embroidery and wondered if you could tell me on which sections you have used perle and which the coton a broder ? likewise which are hungarian braid and which sections are chain stitch?

    1. Hi, Elaine – Ah – good question. For the whole piece, the perle cotton is always used for Hungarian braided chain, and the coton a broder is used for regular chain stitch. The only exception is the circle right in the middle of each end, which is worked in chain stitch with perle cotton. For the “map” of which goes where on the design, I’ll actually have to draw that out, as it’s kind of hard to explain. But if you look at the photo of the half completed, all the darker lines are done with perle cotton in Hungarian braided chain in perle cotton and all the lighter lines are regular chain with coton a broder. I’ll see if I can drum up a visual “map” for you, though, and post it on the website. ~MC

  12. Oh Mary, it truly is lovely!

    Mine is still sitting on my dining room table next to the pattern. I’m still afraid to start transferring the pattern. My friend wove the linen for me and I’m afraid I will make a terrible mistake and ruin the fabric forever.

    I will get up the nerve someday……

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