A Textbook of Needlework, Knitting and Cutting Out with Methods of Teaching, by Elizabeth Rosevear

A lovely little volume, hardbacked, measuring about 7″ x 5″ and with good quality, silky paper. It is a comprehensive volume, quite wordy compared to others of its type but the descriptions are clear and good and the diagrams, where they do appear are well drawn and easily understood.

I often measure the usefulness of a book by how well it covers the subject of gussets. I laugh whenever I write that but it’s true. I often make little garments with square-set sleeves which require a gusset set into the seam yet many books – thankfully not this one – deal only with the setting in of the triangular type commonly found as a reinforcement at the bottom end of a side seam on garments having a curved hem, such as a shirt with shirt tails.

It covers the absolute basics such as the correct way to use thimbles and needles, basic seams and hem stitches, casting on two and three knitting pins, darning, patching, the use of tapes and other reinforcements, buttonholes, turning a heel on a sock or stocking, working with pleats, tucks and gathers as well as decorative stitches.

The cutting out section happily contains workable patterns (illustrated upon grids and with dimensions clearly labelled) and useful hints about cutting out such as to caution against cutting a curved seam too deep as once cut out the curve cannot be made tighter whereas to cut away excess is comparatively simple.

Line drawings are also included of some of the finished articles, nicely drawn and with good attention to the detail and neatness which best tempts the reader to attempt the item. Shirts (both day shirts and nightshirts) for men and boys are covered here together with chemises, petticoats, night dresses, aprons, pinafores, combinations and drawers (knickerbockers) are all covered as are the techniques required for finishing them, for example the working and neatening of plackets, false hems (facings), sleeves, collars and bands. A wide selection too of infants’ garments together with example costings and suggestions as to suitable materials make this a useful resource for anyone interested in infantwear as with some obvious exceptions such as stomach bands much of these little garments are timeless.

It is also worth noting how unusual it is to have any boyswear covered in dressmaking books. As previously mentioned, boys shirts are covered here. I have often been disappointed to find that books purporting to cover the subject of childrenswear indeed concentrate purely on infantwear and beyond that, dresses for little girls; boys being seemingly forgotten. I’m not making the mistake of thinking that little boys didn’t wear dresses as toddlers either; one such book was published in the 1950s.

The third part of the book deals with the knitting or articles such as stockings and socks, knitted vests, petticoats and jackets, hoods, scarves and muffatees (a long, knitted cuff worn over the wrist and hand with a hole for the thumb), shawls and muffs, quilts, blankets and fringes. Netting, crochet, straw weaving and plaiting are also given a brief mention towards the end of the book.

In conclusion another very comprehensive but eminently usable book, well worth space on the bookshelf and not one I will be in a hurry to part with.


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