Making Clothes for the Older Woman, Agnes M Miall, 1948.

If you are familiar with sewing books of this vintage you could definitely be forgiven for wanting to skip the chapters that cover the construction and finishing techniques as you will doubtless be familiar with them already, in print if not also in practice but I would urge you to read it through regardless as like many other of the best-known authors in this field, Agnes Miall writes from long, personal experience and to skip sections is to potentially miss some useful, anecdotal nugget, doubtless won through personal error, which you may not find elsewhere.

Moving to the book’s ‘unique selling point’, it focusses on the figure faults of the more mature woman. I’m not certain that everyone (or indeed anyone) falls neatly into one of the main six figure types but that said, the advice given about style types is sensible and the guidance on fitting is good.

You won’t find any patterns here.  It’s not that kind of book.  It’s very much aimed at the home dressmaker who uses commercial patterns and it rightly pays a great deal of attention to the primary rule of commercial patterns which is to make the majority of alterations to the paper pattern itself, before EVER cutting it in fabric, so that alterations in the cloth will be minimized and no cloth will be wasted.

Be prepared to scream out loud when you hear what the threshold is for reaching “middle age”. Whisper it quietly and then discard this information forever.  Thirty five.

Once you’ve picked yourself back up off the floor, comfort yourself with the thought that as this book was written at a time when fewer people carried extra weight before reaching that age, here in the 21stcentury it is certain that the modifications suggested here will be useful to as many below that age as above it, dealing largely as it does with accommodating extra flesh.

The six figure types are each given a name (Leonora, Penelope, Juno, Editha, Marianne and Augusta) and these names are frequently mentioned in the text, forming a neat reference to the types most likely to benefit from whichever modification is being described, e.g. “…Marianne and perhaps Editha, who are very generously built in front, may find too much room in the back…” and “”Skirts with a number of pieces or gores are more flattering to the older figure (especially to Augusta’s ample hips) than straight ones cut in only two pieces.  So a golden rule for Mrs Over-Forty [yes, that threshold has shifted] to remember is that fitting will very likely need to be done on eachof the seams.”

Another useful reference point about this book is its use of numbered paragraphs for the three chapters which cover fitting.  These are then listed in a ‘Fitting Ready Reckoner’ which is set out in a table of six columns, one for each type, under which is listed the numbers of the paragraphs most likely to be needed when fitting that particular type.  She also suggests that the first time one uses the book, it is helpful to mark with a pencil tick each of the paragraphs found to be pertinent which is another useful hint I have not seen elsewhere.

The main chapter headings are:

I           Getting Ready

II          Older Figures and Styles that Suit Them

III         Concerning Paper Patterns

IV         Cutting Out and Marking

V          Tacking Your Dress Together

VI         Fitting – Shoulders and Neck

VII        Fitting – Bust, Back, Hips and Waist

VIII       Fitting – Armholes and Sleeves

IX         Darts, Seams and Pressing

X          All About Sleeves

XI         The Neck of Your Dress

XII        Binding and Rouleaux

XIII       Plackets, Belts and Pockets

XIV       The Hem and Finishing Touches

XV        Blouses, Skirts and Underwear

XVI       Altering Ready-Made Clothes to Fit

XVII      Cutting Down and Remodelling Clothes

Index

Plates

Agnes Miall is very thorough and competent in her explanations.  She explains things fully but remains focussed so it is easy to follow her guidance whilst losing track of the point she makes.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this book to anyone who has been making (and fitting) clothes since their early adulthood as even if the fitting issues begin to increase and appear in different places than formerly, most will nonetheless be familiar to those competent in recognising and addressing the source of such things.  If someone is coming to dressmaking later though, or with a bit of excess weight already in place, then this will be helpful.

That said, it’s worth it for the read alone, and also for the polite euphemisms such as “sit-upon” for bottom.

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Copyright of the blog owner 2018

Clothing Construction by Evelyn Mansfield

Clothing Construction

Originally I gave this a 5-star rating but I downgraded it on account of the quality of the photos. In common with many books of this era, the photos are grainy and lack contrast, especially through their mid-tones. Where the photos are intended to illustrate a process this makes it very difficult to interpret the picture as much of the necessary detail is hard, if not impossible to make out.

Elsewhere, the book makes good use of line drawings which ably demonstrate techniques such as construction of cord froggings and I think the book would have been better had line drawings been more widely applied. The artistic licence that an artist can apply to emphasise certain points and downplay others is especially useful when demonstrating intricate detail. The photograph labelled 19.13, for example, illustrates a technique of inserting a decorative band made up of short lengths of bias strips, sewn to a strip of paper. These short strips are then each nipped and stitched across to secure their cinched centres and give a decorative, bow-like finish but neither is this last point described in the accompanying text nor is it mentioned in the label and it was only by giving the photograph some intense scrutiny under a good light that I was able to discern exactly what I was looking at.

Leaving the photos aside though, this book has certainly surprised me, and favourably so. I very nearly left it unpurchased; a quick flick left me unmoved and fairly sure it would offer nothing new to my groaning shelves full of similar sewing books but it was only £2.99 so I decided to buy it anyway and prepare to give it some more attention.

I am glad I did. Truly. There is a lot of emphasis on couture techniques and good and thorough coverage of such essential, if supplementary skills such as pressing.

The contents list follows:
1) sewing equipment
2) the sewing machine
3) basic hand sewing stitches
4) pattern and fabric
5) pattern alterations and fitting
6) layout, cutting and marking
7) assembling dress for fitting
8) seam construction
9) pressing
10) methods of handling fullness
11) bias and its use in cordings, bindings and folds
12) buttonholes, buttons and fasteners
13) plackets, fly fronts and concealed closings
14) pockets
15) collars, necklines and closings
16) sleeves
17) waistlines and belts
18) hems
19) decorative construction

Appendices
A) sewing supplies
B) preparing a blue chalk board
C) directions for making pressing equipment
D) home methods for shrinking fabrics
Index.

Do give it shelf room if you are lucky enough to find it.

Copyright of the blog owner 2017

Pattern-Making by Paper Folding by Miss F. Heath

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An ingenious little volume whose method is one of folding paper of predetermined dimensions into a grid which is used to plot the design. The method can be applied to a garment of any size as the proportions are calculated, for the most part, from a single body measurement: usually the neck measurement or the height of the wearer.

The garments covered are:
1) child’s chemise (two patterns)
2) woman’s chemise
3) woman’s yoked chemise
4) combinations
5) baby’s drawers
6) child’s knickerbocker drawers
7) girl’s knickerbocker drawers
8) woman’s tucked drawers – circular band
9) cottage pinafore
10) yoked pinafore
11) baby’s morning gown
12) baby’s frocks (two patterns)
13) child’s pelisse
14) baby’s flannel – baby’s shirts
15) bodice
16) night-dress
17) lined shirt, a back yoke for a tucked night-dress
18) single half-square gusset, circular band.

Copyright of the blog owner 2017

Dressmaking in Detail by Ann MacTaggart

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I own a great many books on dressmaking. Most of them assume construction knowledge or simply don’t cover it at all as they assume that the dressmaker will be using a commercial pattern, which will come with instructions which explain how to put the garment together and in what order. True, my older books do cover this but the emphasis is on hand sewing; if a machine is used at all, it is mainly for the long seams and the rest is very much hand-finished.

For those who seek to design their own garments and machine sew them, this leaves a frustrating gap in know-how and this is where this book really comes into its own.

As I mentioned, I do own a LOT of dressmaking books but this one really does have the best and clearest illustrations of complicated seam finishes that I have seen anywhere. Where some books use a series of stepped illustrations to demonstrate a technique, this one, by clear and well-thought-out diagrams, manages to make the entire process clear in a single picture. I can – at last – say that I understand a Mantua-Maker’s Seam…

So, if you need to know how to insert an under-arm, diamond-shaped gusset or the proper method of inserting godets, this is the book you need.

Fly fastenings, collars, plackets, cuffs and zips… it’s all here.

I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from reading this. It has a really good ratio of text to diagrams, the text is well written and easy to follow – not pitched too high – and it has a good index. It’s a handy reference for design students, home dressmakers and professionals alike.

Copyright of the blog owner 2017

Garment Making, the cutting-out and making-up of common-sense comfortable clothing for children by Jane A. Fleming

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Definitely one for the girls as there are no boys’ garments included here. As a mother of a boy this was naturally a little disappointing but other volumes of similar era exist which do include boys so I was not entirely bereft.

The text is clearly written, the subject matter covered comprehensively and the line drawing diagrams are particularly well drawn, showing clearly the needle position, stitch sequence or whichever detail or method is being illustrated.

I am always impressed by the amount of practical and sensible tuition contained, so succinctly, in these older volumes. All the basic rules are here, with thorough explanation and examination of techniques, stitches and materials and – more pertinently, in my opinion – on how to choose which to use in a given circumstance.

Returning to the diagrams, those relating to the pattern cutting are especially clear. The method used in this book is especially suitable for the inexperienced or unconfident pattern cutter. The starting point is a piece of paper of set proportions and by folding this paper a number of times both vertically and horizontally, the resultant grid is used to plot the pattern according to the accompanying diagram. (Those interested in this method should also seek out the book “Pattern-Making by Paper Folding”, by Miss F Heath, published by Longmans, Green and Co in 1910.)

Unlike many contemporary needlework volumes, there is no mention of mending; it is purely making.

I do not think that the patterns lend themselves to modern interpretation quite so readily as the simpler garments covered by “Simple Garments for Children” by M B Synge but with suitable modification (slight modification to side seam silhouette, fullness arranged as pleats rather than gauged gathers, etc) there is plenty of scope for practical application and even if one ignores the patterns altogether the explanation and illustration of technique makes this book a very worth while purchase.

There is a section specifically covering dolls’ clothes and bedding which, whilst originally intended as reduced scale practice pieces, will appeal equally to those interested in producing dolls’ clothes from patterns which are correct for the era of the doll.

Copyright of the blog owner 2017

Modern Dress Design – Harriet Pepin (1942)

Large format, hardback book measuring 11″ tall x 8″ wide x 1″ thick. Green boards (1945 reprint of 1942 original), 253 pages.

I have an increasingly extensive library of vintage sewing and needlework books and confess that this has to be just about the best I have seen.

Not only is it beautifully presented but unlike Mme Trois Fontaines’ Dress Design and Margaret Ralston’s Dress Cutting (who both cover a similar era and similar subject matter) Pepin goes one step further and gives a proper discussion to the matters of proportion and good design and encourages experiment and the development of a well-trained eye.

Pepin is also extremely comprehensive – more so than Fontaines and Ralston. She is similar in content to Natalie Bray except that she gives more consideration to the process of good design and the illustrations are, to my eye at least, more pleasing and easy to interpret. Unlike Bray, Pepin is also contained in a single volume.

The front bodice draft is a very simple, single-dart pattern which is easily adapted and lends itself very well to experimentation.

The chapter headings are:
1) Pattern Designing
2) Slopers
3) Hip Length Patterns
4) Sleeve Patterns
5) Adapting Patterns
6) Capes, Ties, Neckwear and Scarves
7) Collars
8) Skirts
9) Slacks, Shorts, Culottes and Bathing Suits
10) Lingerie
11) Coats
12) Children’s Clothing

I had to wait a long time to find a hard copy for a reasonable price but would certainly recommend this book to anyone wanting to study not just pattern cutting but clothes design as a whole.

Copyright of the blog owner 2014

Practical Home Mending Made Easy – Mary Brooks Picken

Published by Odhams in 1946 this is a hardback book with a grasscloth cover, measuring ten by 7 inches and printed on quite thin but good quality, silky paper. The text is well written and is liberally scattered with pen and ink diagrams, very well drawn and clearly illustrating the techniques they demonstrate.

Some of the text is amusingly obsolete – my husband and I were equally amused by the “When You Mend for Men” section which commences with the observation that “every new husband is happy about the first button that comes off. His bride will sew it on for him and he will revel in this special attention” and which later, mentioning the sense in putting a price on one’s time and keeping a notebook of time spent and money saved sets as an example the “one woman with husband and three children to sew for learned to mend, took the necessary time to learn to do it well. At the end of a year she showed her husband she had really saved enough to warrant his buying a piano for her”.

Anyone familiar with the author won’t be surprised to hear that this really is an excellent and very comprehensive book and whilst the skills taught herein are hardly exclusive, the pleasing layout of this book together with the clarity of the diagrams makes it easily one of the better books I have encountered.

It truly does start with the basics. This is certainly the first time I have seen close-up diagrams showing how to thread a needle but each of us has to start somewhere and with people less likely than ever before to have learned these skills from a relative or at school it is not inappropriate to have them mentioned here.

Indeed many of the finishings and techniques covered as standard subject matter here now find themselves promoted to the lofty status of “couture” techniques and are overlooked by many ordinary sewing books whose aim is to use the sewing machine almost exclusively. The example of factory-produced goods too frequently leads us to believe that items are “homespun” and inferior unless made entirely by machine and it is time we debunked this.

Even though this is a book specifically about mending there must necessarily be some overlap with books on dressmaking and general needlework so seams, hems, embroidery stitches, darts, gathers, tucks and ruffles, pleats, godets, neckline and sleeve finishes, plackets, fasteners and buttonholes are all covered here but often with a slightly different bias – bound buttonholes are, for example, promoted as being an excellent way to refurbish a buttonhole frayed out of shape too badly to be simply reworked in buttonhole stitch.

There is a handy section dealing with how to recognise the fibre content of cloth and also a good introduction to the sewing machine and its attachments.

In keeping with a sense of proper economy and foresight there is discussion about reinforcing areas prone to wear and tear and also the particular method used in mending each of a variety of different tears – invisible darn, slashes, reinforced darn, one-way darn, corner tear, runs in knitwear, cross-wise splits in knitwear, stocking grafting and irregular machine darn.

Patches are shown in variety; including some which are cunningly designed to look like a design detail whilst in fact hiding a stain or a tear.

Underpinnings receive a lot of coverage; the reinforcement and renewal of straps and fastenings, how to disguise minor repairs, mend frayed edges, deal with broken fagotting, seams and worn elastic, reinforce where bones and wiring pushes though.

Some things, like repairs to cuffs, collars and pockets I have seen before but others, such as gloves, ties and belts are less common as is the very comprehensive coverage given to the repair of blankets, pillowcases and sheets, including the hemstitched variety which often tears along the hemstitching.

Laundering is also mentioned: stain removal, washing, ironing, cleaning and pressing, as well as an area akin to dry cleaning referred to here as “Freshening” but  do indeed treat this with caution as the chemicals are indeed eye-watering and the reader must be responsible in his or her own research into the chemicals involved before attempting to follow any of the advice in this section.

The final part of the book deals with refashioning clothing – of refreshing worn areas, updating them and in picking them apart and reusing the cloth. It advises the seamstress to look carefully at each garment and assess its merits before deciding upon its fate: first considering whether some refurbishment, recutting or readjustment could do anything for it. Next consider whether, when done the garment would do anything for you!

If that seems hopeless, either give it away or else rip it apart at the seams and reuse the material for something different. I have to say I snorted somewhat at the part where the author advises against the home sewer attempting to draft her own patterns, opining that it “requires equipment and experience beyond the home sewer’s ken.” I do happen to have had the benefit of professional training in pattern cutting but certainly don’t agree that it is beyond a home sewer to learn the same skill.

Ideas follow as to the sorts of project which could be attempted for different garments – evening coats into skirts, jackets, even boudoir cushions! Men’s shirts are particularly prized as being a suitable basis for children’s shirts, blouses, aprons and pinafores. The author sets a pretty tight schedule, mind: to produce a pair of trousers or a dress from reclaimed fabrics will take six hours by her estimate: one for ripping and pressing, one for cutting, one or possibly two for basting, half an hour for fitting, half and hour for adjustments after fitting, one for stitching, half an hour for buttons and buttonholes and half an hour for a complete pressing. The author does concede that this represents a highly concentrated schedule, as she puts it “making every stroke count”.

Coats merit a section all their own – trimming with new fabric on pockets and revers, recutting, remodelling and relining.

Dresses also receive a chapter all their own: suggestions being made to sew in entirely new sections of fabric where areas are looking worn and to use even the smallest piece of fabric to add a cheerful touch to cuffs, pockets and other small details. Eyelet embroidery, velveteen and taffeta are all shown used in a variety of ways to liven up old items as are lace, tassels and ribbons.

When cutting down garments to be remade for children the author suggests using the following checklist:

1) Is the fabric worthy of my time?

2) Is it easy to wash and keep in repair?

3) Is it worth the expense of needed new material?

4) Is it in suitable colour and weave for a child?

5) Is it right for the child who is to wear it?

One caveat – this section advises using tie fasteners of narrow tape or ribbon or wider ties of material for baby’s first garments and tot’s dresses. Please be aware of strangulation risks when having any tie on clothing intended for babies and small children.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

American Dressmaking Step by Step – Lydia Trattles Coates

A well written book illustrated clearly with black and white photographs showing a very comprehensive range of stitches, techniques and articles.

This is not a book which includes patterns which may be scaled up and used but it does include line drawings which provide sufficient visual information about fullness, style lines etc for a competent pattern maker to draft a similar garment – this being especially true of the childrenswear, which examples are particularly engaging, especially the middy blouse and rompers.

One of the peculiar strengths of these older volumes is the particular attention give to construction. Possibly because of the weightiness of full-length skirts cut from woollen cloth the waists were not simply set into a modern style of waistband but were instead often hung from a strong, internal waistband of shaped petersham or similar rigidly woven tape which allowed the weight of the skirt to be carried not by the fabric of the costume but by the abdomen of the wearer.

Similar attention is given to the fitting of a corset cover – the care with which the garment is quartered by twin rows of gathering threads which are then gently pulled up and shepherded into the correct position is a study well worth revising today for any garment in which gathers are to form the main shaping over the bust.

Suffice it to say that all of the usual hems, stitches and seam finishes are described and illustrated and good suggestions made for correcting and disguising ill-fitting portions of garments such as a sleeve too long above the elbow or tight across the forearm.

In conclusion this is another very comprehensive volume and one I would not wish to part with.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

Practical Home Dressmaking Illustrated – Lynn Hillson

A highly informative volume introducing a full introduction to the sewing machine and its attachments, including a demonstration of using a veining foot to make picots which I have never seen before and am very glad to know. The book lists suggested items of equipment for sewing, pressing and the mending basket. As well as the usual, ubiquitous instructions on where and how to measure, instructions are given for padding out a dummy and fastening a padded arm thereto, all valuable lessons when trying to achieve a good fit either in shop-bought, or home drafted patterns.

Given that this book is not written as a drafting book the instructions for creating and adapting basic blocks are really very good; simple to follow but easily comprehensive enough to form a firm basis for most dressmaking and furthermore, patterns are shown throughout the book, drafted against a grid for easy transferral.

A good appraisal is given to fabrics, their widths, quantities and qualities as well as their suitability to various styles.

Reading the chapter on pressing I was again struck at how sensible and comprehensive was the advice given. Clear illustrations showed real-life examples of what was being discussed, including the use of a pressing cloth, using a padded rolling pin to press open seams and the use of the tailor’s ham in pressing sleeveheads. You will certainly learn all the correct methods here and your sewing will be the better for it.

The chapter on fitting is equally clear. I can’t claim that it covers any more or less than other books on the subject but somehow the diagrams get right to the very heart of the matter and make it simple to compare the problem in hand with the issues illustrated and find out how to solve it.

The chapter on sewing details once again cuts through the unnecessary and gets right to the heart of the matter – namely how to deal with all those awkward, non-standard fastenings like leather buttons and the bone ones which need to be removed before washing. I have also never seen such a neatly illustrated description of inserting zips – truly this book is an absolute gem.

The Lingerie chapter supplies patterns for some truly elegant and timeless pieces – a bias cut nightdress, a long sleeved nightdress, a princess slip, camiknickers, brassiere and knickers but be warned that the bra in question is a dainty little number best suited for nothing beyond a B-cup and of a simple, rounded shape. You won’t learn how to draft a bullet bra here (although in truth that would not be hard to do, simply by straightening the vertical seam lines a little and reinforcing with the requisite concentric stitch lines).

This book truly does attend to precisely the right things. Rarely have I ever seen bound buttonholes, tucks, pleats, piping, rouleau loops, cuff openings and bound hems so nicely and plainly described.

The same applies to pockets. Bound pockets, welt pockets, slot pockets, patch pockets, flap pockets. All well described and beautifully illustrated.

How to make a belt? It’s here, with many pretty ideas on how to finish and fasten.

The chapter on collars shows very clearly how the different types are drafted from the bodice blocks laid together at the shoulder seam. Each has a particular profile, depending on how high or flat it is to lie and the different shapes are very well shown here.

Sleeves are quite narrow and sculpted, as to be expected from this particular era but other types are discussed also. Useful tips such as the application of interlinings, stiffeners and special tight linings into the sleevehead of a puffed sleeve to prevent it migrating down the arm are again all subjects new to me and very welcome. Another new tip for me was that of how to cut and attach a shaped interlining into a sleeve; cut half the breadth of the sleeve, rounded at the top and sewn into the lining it provides extra warmth.

Pattern diagrams are given for the following garments, with extremely detailed instructions for cutting, fitting and making up: one-piece dress, princess style; cardigan suit (a neat suit with shaped jacket and straight skirt with kick pleat); blouse with rever collar and bishop sleeves and the items of underwear mentioned earlier.

The childrenswear chapter is truly a delight as it covers a far better range than the usual rompers, dress and knickers. There are proper instructions for the drafting and making of a woollen blazer, suggested to be best suited to a boy of ten to twelve years but easily adapted to other sizes besides. Knee-length trousers to match are also covered here and the photo is simply delightful – the shorts are shown knee-length and fastened with a snake belt. This is such a timeless accessory I have photos of my father (born in 1919) wearing one when he was about ten and my own little boy, aged four wears one even now. For girls, a neat, pleated skirt with inverted box pleats is shown for a schoolgirl. It is cut a couple of inches above the knee similar to gym shorts and is worn with a blouse made to the same pattern as the boy’s shirt but fastening the other way of course. Also for girls, a pair of ‘School Knickers’ which resemble athletic shorts, being of a simple shape gathered onto a band of elastic at the waist. It is suggested that these can be made in a thinner fabric for wearing under party frocks in which case the leg edges could be finished with a fabric frill or with lace. There follows a plain, cotton print frock with a high neck, simple collar, elbow length sleeves and waist sash, cut above the knee and very ‘youthful’!

There is just the one dress for a baby – a classic, knee length design with short puffed sleeves and a skirt gathered onto a yoke under the arms.

The final articles of childrenswear are again refreshingly practical – a darling set of unisex pyjamas. The jacket is made to the same pattern as the blazer, but fastened up to the neck and the trousers made from the shorts draft, lengthened accordingly. A modified pattern is described wherein the bodice and trousers may be combined and feet added to make a sleepsuit for a younger child.

The final chapter deals with mending, patching, darning and the setting in of the small triangular gussets into the bottom of side seams.

This is, in my opinion one of the most comprehensive texts I have read and should you buy only one book on home dressmaking, this would be a very good one to choose.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

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.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

“Manual of Needlework and Cutting Out” and “How To Make Up Garments” (Agnes Walker)

I am lucky enough to own the above books bound as a single volume but will review them separately.

Manual of Needlework and Cutting Out

Another highly rated little gem from my collection, this volume once again answers my desire to collect books which not only teach construction technique but which also give workable patterns, or instructions on how to create them so that perfectly authentic examples may be created without having to trust to the authenticity of patterns created for commercial sale by others.

The scope is obviously not particularly wide – you will not find herein the means to create a period ballgown or walking outfit but for the basic garments easily made at home such as childrens’ pinafores, chemises, overalls, aprons, knickerbockers, nightshirts and nightdresses for all ages, combinations, day-shirts and infants clothing you will find little better than this book.

The methods given are often simple – frequently worked to a proportional system of folding a sheet of paper – but this makes them very approachable. The garments are also made with the absolute minimum of waste – a Cottage Pinafore gives a very pleasing arrangement at the shoulder simply by clever cutting and with zero waste along that seam.

Written as an aid to teaching, this volume starts at the absolute basics. The correct use of a thimble, how to hold the needle, how to form a stitch – all are covered here. Knitting, darning and patching are also covered very comprehensively and ever with practicality in mind. As well as the ubiquitous instructions for hems, seams, buttonholes and decorative stitches here you will also learn how to turn the toe of a knitted sock, how to deal with a hem crossing a seam and how to sew the strengthening gusset at the foot of the side seam.

The discovery (or rediscovery) of methods still valid today but seldom taught are what make these old volumes such a delight. Anyone who has ever struggled to make gathers sit neatly would welcome the instructions for ‘stroking’ which induce them to lie in such uniform fashion.

The diagrams for cutting out are shown drawn against a grid, with dimensions clearly displayed for each piece, making it simple to recreate it for oneself. The grids are turquoise, the lines themselves either black or else red and they are very easy to interpret.

If I had to choose to keep only a fraction of my books, this one would surely survive the cull as it contains much that is covered elsewhere and more besides.

How To Make Up Garments

A companion volume to “Manual of Needlework and Cutting Out” by the same author and somewhat harder to come by, I am lucky enough to have secured my copy bound up with the former title as a single volume.

Whereas the earlier title also gave a substantial attention to cutting out and making up, it gave equal attention to the basic skills, seams, hems and techniques required in their making up. Such preliminaries are entirely skipped over in this second volume. I am happy about that as every other book I possess seems to demonstrate slip-stitching a hem and I would much rather dedicate shelf-space to new subjects.

A certain degree of overlap is admitted, especially in the clothing types for which the patterns and instructions are given but the patterns are not the same as those covered by the previous book and in addition to the chemises, petticoats, aprons and nightshirts, more advanced items are introduced such as some very fancy sleeves and sleeveheads and also techniques such as bone casings and gussets discussed in greater detail.

As the title suggests, this volume also gives detailed instructions as to the making up of the garment, the order and the types of seam suitable for each part. This makes it a valuable addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in authentic techniques as well as the patterns of the turn of the last century.

Obviously a sewing machine could be used to save labour on the longer sections of the projects described in this book but it will be found that there are many areas, such as the insertion of square gussets, where hand-sewing is much simpler.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

Dress Cutting by Margaret C. Ralston

This is a small, hard back book bound in red linen. Compared with the book “Dress Making” by Mme Trois Fontaines, published at a similar date the quality and size of the volume are inferior but despite this and the similarity in subject matter Ralston’s book still possesses plenty to recommend it.

The diagrams are not as large and clear as in the Fontaines book but the styles shown within are much more casual and practical. Where Fontaines supplies a great range of evening dresses, Ralston provides a sweeter and somehow more achievable selection such as a lovely, V-necked blouse, two different styles for a tennis dress and a number of dresses I would best describe as neat and stylish day-dresses for the modern, office-working girl.

Ralston does have one quirk which, as a trained pattern designer I have never encountered elsewhere – that of including a strange little tuck pleated into the shoulder edge of the bodice block exactly where one would expect a shoulder dart to appear. The block itself is drafted entirely without darts and this little tuck is intended presumably to supply the necessary ease for the bust.

Two foundation garments are provided as a basis for the patterns: a bodice and a sleeve. The skirt is drafted simply as a rectangle so not a block in the modern sense. The bodice block is incredibly simple, being dartless as previously mentioned and as with the other diagrams is simply a line drawing with red ink used for emphasising the main construction lines.

The drawings are less easy to follow than Fontaines, as the description of the type and colour of the lines used is described for the one and only time in Chapter V, before which point one simply had to muddle through with ones own interpretation. That said, the key is not a complicated one – red, solid lines to show the original block; red, dotted lines to show construction lines and black, solid lines to show the new pattern as it should be cut. This information appears before the pattern cutting proper commences so is not too far removed from where it is best needed although I do believe it would have been better to mention it before commencing the blocks as these make use of all three types of line but without the benefit of explanation.

Ralston is a more wordy volume than Fontaines but this is not to its detriment. Many a gem of advice is contained therein both on the subject of taking measurements correctly and in the proper manner in which to construct the garments, many of which tips are simply not widely covered today.

The style of reading is easy to follow and in reading it I was impressed that such a wealth of valuable information could be imparted so simply and so sensibly. There is nothing herein what Fontaines does not cover yet more comprehensively (and indeed liberally) but unlike Fontaines, the Ralston volume can be slipped easily into a pocket, a bookshelf or a handbag and covers wonderfully well a wide range of accessible and authentic patterns for anyone interested in this era.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

Dress Making Designing Cutting & Fitting by Mme Jeanne Trois Fontaines

Apart from the great beauty of the illustrations, wonderfully evocative of early 1930s glamour this book has two main strengths which particularly recommend it.

First is its size. The paper is silky and thick and at a hefty 14″ by 11″ it is quite a beast but this works to its advantage as the greater size of the diagrams makes them much clearer to follow and the notes with which they are labelled much easier to read.

Written instructions are concise, the diagrams being sufficiently clear and well labelled to act as the main source of instruction in recreating them.

The second area in which this book particularly succeeds is that of subject matter. Fundamental preliminaries such as accurate measuring and the adjustments to be made for various figure shapes/deviations are covered fully but succinctly, a mark of the both the confidence and the competence of the author, leaving the rest of the book for the patterns themselves.

It is rare in my experience to find a book so fully dedicated to the actual creation of patterns. Plenty of books relating to dressmaking flit quickly over the subject of pattern drafting. They may instruct how to make a basic block, a foundation garment from which to work but the majority then assume that you have purchased a pattern and need only to be taught how to set in the collar, work the seams, hems and buttonholes.

This book is quite the opposite. You won’t find how to make a bound buttonhole here. What you will find though is instructions for the basic foundation blocks, all worked to your own measurements, and a very generous number of style variations based on them, together with full instructions on achieving the same.

As I previously mentioned, the diagrams are large, well-drawn and clear. Refreshingly free of clutter, they are easy to follow and understand and are liberally used.

Anyone wishing to make up these styles exactly as they appear in the book would be advised to remember that the fashionable figure was long and slender, and the foundation bodice block uses a single long bust dart set into the shoulder seam – not at all appropriate for anyone with a full bust. However neither were the styles so if your figure is less than willowy you may have to forsake historical accuracy and draft a bodice better suited to your shape but the style ideas are here and may certainly be applied to a more modern foundation draft.

In conclusion this is a valuable resource for anybody interested in reproducing authentic 1930s clothing from equally authentic patterns. It would also make a wonderful addition to the coffee tables of anyone who loves beautiful books.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

What to Charge and how to Collect (from “Dainty Work for Pleasure and Profit” by Addie E Heron)

It made me smile to see how, over a century later, the same problems remain as tricky as ever! What follows is a transcription from the 1894 version of “Dainty Work for Pleasure and Profit” by Addie E Heron (including original typos and spellings) although the daily rate recommended her may need changing! That said though, consider that this amount was no mean consideration back in 1894 and is surely a reminder never to sell one’s time too cheaply:

What to Charge and how to Collect

and especially is this the case where parties are acquaintances, and may be friends. The social relation should not be considered in this connection, and the only successful method is to adopt a rule of procedure to be applied to all cases, and apply it impartially. Never accept an indefinite order, as

“my dear Mrs A. I believe I will have you get me up something for my dressing case, something pretty!” “What would you like?” “Oh, I’m not particular, just anything that would suit you!”

Never be betrayed into filling such an order. Insist upon the name of the article being specified, the nature of the work, the scheme of color, the amount of work, cost and nature of the materials, and last the price of the whole when completed. Make a memoranda of the items in the form of an order, read it to the lady and pass it to her for her signature. This will preclude the possibility of any mistakes being made, and leave no loophole for misunderstandings to occur when too late to rectify them. Be sure to fill all orders according to agreement, make out a bill for the work and present when the work is delivered, and insist gently upon payment at that time; if this is not possible have a definite time set when you are to call for the amount, and be punctually on hand. Women, as a rule are apt to be careless in regard to the payment of such bills, and allow them to run into indefinite time, but they will none the less be your customers because you insist upon your rights in a dignified manner.

When the parties are not known to you insist upon an advance payment of at least one half the price when the order is taken, and the balance upon delivery.

Do not work too cheap, neither be exhorbitant in your charges. Make the estimate of cost upon the time occupied in filling the order; at the rate of $1.50 per day is a fair consideration. When possible furnish the embroidery silks, linen or other threads used in your work; by this means you will always be certain of having correct shading and then, too, the profit on the same will be an item worth considering at the end of a year, as you will be able to make arrangements to secure these materials in small quantities of the wholesale houses.

The chapters on “Shading,” “Designing,” “Stitches,” “Materials,” “Art Embroidery,” including “Roman Embroidery,” “Kensington and Satin Embroidery,” “Application of Stitches,” and “Drawn Work,” contain all of the instructions necessary to thoroughly equip one for “Order Work”, without the aid of a teacher, if even the learner has had no previous instructions in embroidery, providing she has any natural aptitude for the work.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

Bead Fancies (from Needlework Economies edited by Flora Klickmann)

The fashion of the present day runs towards beads in every colour and design, and although the making of beads is not exactly a needlework economy, it is a dress economy, and that is very nearly related to needlework.

I have been very successful in making all sorts of articles for ornamentation – from beads, sealing-wax, broken china, a little gold paint and some glue, not to mention a little grease and a knitting-needle.

I began my home-made bead-making from necessity, because I was unable to find any beads to match a particular frock I very much wanted a string for. Also, in hunting everywhere for them, I found that the really artistic and barbaric ones ran into a great deal of money, especially if they were large.

Now, I wanted an odd shade of blue, which was really no shade at all, because the material was old and had faded to the beautiful tint which it now possesses. I could not procure any tint that were even remotely like it, and so my idea of making some for myself was born.

To begin with, I bought for six-pence a large box of assorted beads, such as are sold for children to string at kindergarten.

Sealing-wax is an Essential

At a stationer’s I bought up a whole lot of broken sealing wax for a very little money, purchasing at the same time, two good sticks, one of gold and one of silver. These I carried home and sorted as best I could into shades of different colouring.

You will be surprised to find what a lot of different tones there are to be had in sealing-wax, though, when buying, be careful not to be taken in by the outside of the stick! I bought what I thought was a beautiful shade of lavender, but fortunately was told by the assistant that it was really a dark blue, which had been in the window and faded! Blues will often fade mauve, and reds will become pink. But you will easily avoid mistakes by looking at the box which gives a description of its contents.

Broken China the next Requisite

Having secured what I wanted at the stationer’s, I next looked through the china pantry and kitchen cupboards to see what I could find in the way of broken china and glass.

I turned out quite a nice little heap from here, and then went to the tool-house, where I had a little store, which I had dug up out of the garden.

I never can understand where all the broken china comes from which is always to be found in every garden when the earth is turned up. I have a small basket full of all sorts of odd pieces in bright blues, reds and yellows, which appear to be chips from plates or saucers. I should think it would take a generation of families, and their tea, dinner and breakfast services, to account for the quantity and colouring I have by me.

All this china I washed carefully in soapy water, rinsing in very hot clear water, and drying whilst still hot. By this means the china and lass keeps its shine, and if set in the sun for a little while it will greatly improve the lustre.

Next I sorted the colours, and then, with the aid of a wooden hammer and a piece of felt, I cracked the china into tiny pieces. Be careful in doing this to put the coloured side of the china downwards, and lay on a piece of felt, with another piece on top. Hit gently, but firmly, and where the piece is cracked insert a nail or strong pin in the crack and hit with the hammer. The cracks will split and will leave a nice edge, which is very useful for sticking in the sealing-wax. Break the pieces as small as possible, but leaving the colour to show on one side. If you smash at the pieces they will powder and be no use at all.

Whatever odd beads you have, or old pieces of coloured paste and imitation stones – which are often to be had in old buckles – spangles and bugles, all are grist to the mill. I have also used broken pieces of pebbles and stones which I found amongst the gravel, and which were broken by the roller, and which, when chipped very fine, displayed really brilliant colouring. Pieces of flint with a sparkle of mica look beautiful.

Making the Beads.

Having completed this collection, I turned my attention to the bead-making, and I began in this manner:-

I started with a set of six large beads in blues for my chain. I chose the largest beads in my assorted box, irrespective of colour and shape. Taking one of these I slipped it over the end of a steel knitting-needle, using one large enough to hold the bead tightly. This needle I first greased with a rag on which a little lard had been rubbed. This prevents the sealing-wax adhering to anything but the bead.

Next I lit a taper, and, using blue wax, I covered the bead roughly with it, turning the knitting needle in my hand, so that the hot liquid ran round it. This I plunged into cold water.

Before proceeding, I would like to say that great care must be taken not to smoke the wax when a taper or candle is used; if you will heat the wax in the centre of the flame, you will find that the colour does not become blackened.

As soon as the blue wax has cooled, without hardening, I splashed on some of the gold, and, turning the bead rapidly in the flame itself, the gold mingled with the blue, so forming a sort of marbled effect. This I also plunged into the cold water.

Then I chose a brilliant yellow wax, and, heating it in the candle flame, I squeezed the tip into a sharp point.

This, in turn, I heated, and dabbed it at regular intervals round the bead to form spots. While the spots were still soft, I pushed into the centre of each one a tiny piece of broken china, in a pure turquoise shade, pinching the wax to cover the rough edge.

Do not use the fingers to the sealing-wax more than can be possibly helped, as touching it takes away the glaze.

I made three beads similar to this design, and three in a paler shade of blue, with the same yellow spots, but using pieces of dark red china instead of the turquoise. These I strung with a three-inch length of small yellow beads (which I bought at the same shop as the box of beads came from, and which were also sold for children’s kindergarten work) between each large one, and the chain, when finished, looked truly beautiful. It certainly enhanced the beauty and value of the frock for which it was made.

Making Fancy Buttons.

To match the chain I made four buttons, used to fasten the shoulder-pieces of the bodice, in the same colours and the same design.

To make these, any old buttons that have shanks to them will do, but have shanks they must, as there is no other means of fastening them. I had four old brass buttons, with flat, shiny tops. With an old knife I scraped the face of each so as to make it rough, as the wax adheres better to a rough surface.

I used a piece of cardboard – piece of an old box – and cut four small slits in it large enough to slip the button-shanks through. On the other side I slipped a burnt match into the shank of each, and by this means the buttons were quite firm and did not wobble about.

Then I covered two with dark wax, and two with light wax similar to the beads, scraping away any wax which had overflowed on to the cardboard. Before it was cold I pressed a tiny ring of the small yellow beads round the immediate edge, finishing off with a spot of the yellow wax in the centre of each, and a scrap of broken china in the centre of that, again.

I found the buttons a little rough on the edge, but, with the aid of a nail file, I rubbed them fairly smooth, and they did not notice when sewn on the frock.

I have made buttons and buckles galore from old oddments, using up different coloured beads in an inlaid fashion.

A most effective way is to cover the surface of a button with a thin layer of glue, and to lay the beads on in a design like a mosaic. This is a really beautiful way of decorating buttons, and a very pretty opaque look can be given by sprinkling the beads, while the gum is still wet, with a little of the flitter used in pen painting.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

The Economy Quilt (from Needlework Economies edited by Flora Klickmann)

A Book of Mending and Making with Oddments and Scraps. Thus is the book subtitled and what a little gem it is. Now there are indeed many books, and reprints thereof dealing with post-WW2 thrift but those dating from post-WW1 are much less common so it was a great delight for me to recently lay hands on this fascinating little volume, undated but having a typically Arts and Crafts cover.

I did want to share for you one particular project, which struck me as uncommonly useful and economic, not least because it utilises tiny scraps and threads and all of the snippets which are typically discarded during any needlework project.

The Economy Quilt

Bedclothes become an expensive item when there are several beds for young people to be made up, as well as those for their elders. Yet warmth is essential, if their health is to be maintained.

In the winter, there usually comes a night of sudden cold, so raw and so intense, that it seems next to impossible to put too much on the beds. Every spare blanket is turned out, and every eider-down, and still there is not enough! Next morning someone is sure to say they never got warm all night!

Of course, eider-downs are ideal. They are warm without being heavy. But real eider-downs are expensive. Here is a substitute that was popular in our grandmothers’ day. It is simply a quilt formed of small bags, sewn together like patchwork, each bag containing a certain amount of snippets and clippings. Very simple, isn’t it? And yet these quilts, that cost practically nothing, are invaluable in the cold weather. Put one of these over the outside of the bed, and the sleeper keeps as snug and warm as though under a couple of down quilts.

One great advantage of this quilt is the ease with which it can be made. A child can always run up a little bag; a child can also cut up snippets, if it is old enough to be allowed to use a scissors. Mother can run round a few bags with her sewing machine, just before putting it away after doing needlework. In this way the bags accumulate in a surprising manner, and joining them together, a few at a time, either by hand or machine, is not laborious or brain-wearing work.

The Method I Always Adopt

For some years now, I have made it a rule always to have one of these quilts on hand. If I do not need it myself, when it is finished, I always know someone who can put it to good use. Any woman who has an elastic family and a non-elastic purse, is glad of one for a gift.

I save every scrap of material that would otherwise be wasted. If it is not new, I have it washed and thoroughly dried. All this waste goes into a bag that I keep hanging up in a cupboard in my bedroom. I never allow a large amount to accumulate, lest moth should get at it. I have seldom more than a couple of handfuls at one time waiting to be dealt with.

On my chest of drawers I keep a box. In this there is always a pair of sharp scissors. When I have a few moments idle – between the lights when it is too dark to see much else, or when my eyes are to do work requiring close attention – I cut up a few of the scraps from the bag into snippets about an inch square sometimes smaller, never larger. I put these in the box.

Then again, whenever I have any bits from dressmaking, or mending, or darning, it has become second nature to me to cut them up there and then into snippets, and put them in the box. In fact, I always have the snippet box on the table beside my workbox when I am sewing, and the bits go in as a matter of course as I go along. It keeps me so tidy. Everything comes in useful, even the fragments of darning wool, ravellings and basting threads!

I save any scraps of material large enough to make the bags; a useful size is five or six inches by three inches. I run up three sides of these when I have a spare moment; put in a small handful of snippets, and close up the end. These I put in a drawer until I have time to join them together.

I always machine mine together, as it is the quickest way.

Do not fill the bags anything like full, or the quilt will be impossibly heavy. If you fill the bag about a third full, or at most a very loose half-full, that will be quite enough. Each little bag just wants a slight thickness inside, to give the extra warmth, much the same as we sometimes line quits with a layer of cotton wool between two cotton covers.

The reason we put the clippings in little bags, instead of into one bag, is to keep the stuff evenly distributed over the surface of the bed. Otherwise, every time the sleeper turned over, or disarranged the coverings, there would be the chance of all the clippings slipping over, and collect themselves on the one side or the other of the bed, or possibly all falling to the foot of the bed.

A quilt made of the bags, not too full, can be shaken and kept thoroughly aired.

Almost any sort of material can be used for the bags, provided it is not too delicate in colour, as one does not want to have a quilt of this sort frequently going to the cleaners. Strong stuffs are best, such as cretonne, serge, stout print, sateen – anything in fact that will stand some wear.

Mix cotton clippings with wool clippings in each bag. Obviously the quilt will not need any lining, as the back will be fairly neat. If you like, you can finish the edge with a cord; but I myself always aim to get the outside bags all one colour scheme; this in itself makes a certain finish – a kind of border – and I just leave it at that. After all, these quilts are not for ornament so much as stern utility; nevertheless, they can be made to look really pretty, if a little care and taste is expended on the placing of the various colours and designs.

Copyright of the blog owner 2013

Vintage Machine Embroidery – Singer Instructions for Art Embroidery and Lace Work (1941); Singer Instructions for Art Embroidery (1911)

As I seem to be collecting more and more books these days I have plenty of material to review so this is the first in what I hope will be a series of book reviews, all relating to sewing, needlecraft or pattern cutting and as you would expect, there is a definite slant towards the vintage. There is understandably a great deal of overlap in subject matter in the many books published by different companies, especially evident in the various large grasscloth covered tomes published over the middle decades of the twentieth century so I will seek also to stress each ones particular merits over its peers and hopefully guide the reader towards the one which represents the best investment for them.

Of the two books mentioned in the title, given the similarity in their own titles the reader could be forgiven for assuming that the former is a reworking of the latter. This is partly true but the later title is by no means a simple republication of the same work, even with additional chapters for lace work. It is a total reworking, with different photographs, different text and different examples altogether.

The earlier work has 93 pages whilst the later book has 225 and the indices are given here for comparison.

The index of the 1911 edition:
General Instructions
Shaded Embroidery (Flowers)
Art Embroidery
Raised Embroidery

Scallops, Beadstitch, Cording

Venetian Embroidery

Seed Stitch

English or Eyelet Embroidery

Shaded Embroidery on Velvet or Plush

Gold Thread Embroidery

First Openwork Stitches
Filet, Netting or Open Mesh Embroidery
Hedebo Embroidery
Richelieu Lace

Point Venise

Renaissance Lace

English Point

Duchess Lace

Brussels Lace

Novelty Lace

Point Lace
Cluny Lace
Hemstitching
Mexican Drawn-Work

Mexican Drawn-Work (Second Part)

Teneriffe Wheels

Velvet Appliqué

Net Appliqué

The index of the 1941 edition:
Foreword
General Rules
Preparation of the Machine
Correct Posture of the Operator

Operation of the Machine

Embroidery by Electricity

How to Trace Designs

Preparation of the Work

Rules for the Size of Stitches

Rule No. 1, Stitching of Drawn Work

Rule No. 2, Cording

Tensions

Embroidery Work with Heavy Thread

Table of Stitches Per Half Inch Indicating the Threads and Needles Most Suitable

First Course of Study
Lesson 1: First Stitches
Lesson 2: Cording
Lesson 3: English or Eyelet Embroidery

Lesson 4: First Openwork Stitches

Lesson 5: Richelieu Work (Cut Work)

Lessons 6-7: Hemstitching

Lesson 8: Scalloping and Raised Embroidery – Satin Stitch

Lesson 9: Letters and Monograms

Lessons 10-11: Fancy Stitches on White Goods

Lesson 12: Appliqué on Net

Lesson 13: English Lace – Braid Appliqué

Lesson 14: Brussels Lace

Lesson 15: Filet Lace

Lesson 16: Milan Lace

Lesson 17: Bone Lace First Appliqué

Lesson 18: Embroidery on Net

Lessons 19-20: Needlepoint Lace & Venetian Richelieu Lace

Lesson 21: Smyrna Embroidery

Lessons 22-23: Venetian Lace – First Stitches

Lessons 24-25: Shaded Embroidery

Second Course of Study
Lesson 26: Teneriffe Wheels
Lesson 27-28: Mexican Drawn Work
Lesson 29: Hedebo Embroidery

Lesson 30: Velvet Appliqué

Lesson 31: Battenberg Embroidery

Lesson 32: Appliqué of Cretonne

Lesson 33: Blond Lace

Lesson 34: Valenciennes Lace

Lesson 35: Cluny Lace

Lesson 36: Fancy Lace

Lessons 37-38: English Point Lace

Lessons 39-40: Artistic Embroidery on White Goods

Lessons 41-42: Renaissance Lace

Lessons 43-44: Fancy Embroidery Points on White Goods

Lesson 45: Bone Lace – Insertions

Lesson 46: Fancy Lace Edging

Lesson 47: Bead Work

Lesson 48: Rococo Embroidery

Lesson 49: Venetian Embroidery

Lesson 50: Imitation Velvet Embroidery

Third Course of Study
Lesson 51: Crochet Lace
Lessons 52-53: Duchess Lace
Lesson 54: Bruges Lace

Lessons 55-56: Spanish Point Lace

Lessons 57-58: Genoese Net

Lesson 59: Malta Lace

Lesson 60: Bone Lace Edging

Lesson 61: Guipiur Lace

Lesson 62: Venetian Lace

Lessons 63-64: Venetian Lace Faces and Figures

Lesson 65: Cross Stitch

Lesson 66: Raised Embroidery on Mesh

Lesson 67-68: Embroidery with Gold or Silver Thread and Persian Embroidery

Lesson 69: Chinese Embroidery

Lesson 70: Wool Embroidery on Net

Lesson 71: Artistic Shaded Embroidery

Lesson 72: Granite Stitch – Round Stitch

Lesson 73: Penelope Embroidery

Lesson 74: Shaded Embroidery on Velvet or Plush

Lesson 75: Italian Filet

Fourth Course of Study
Lesson 76: Frivolite Lace
Lesson 77: English Lace, Making the Braid
Lesson 78: Zambori Lace

Lesson 79: Irish Lace

Lesson 80: Lace with Gold Thread

Lesson 81: Insertion of Szepes Bone Lace

Lesson 82: Kis Koros Bone Lace Insertion

Lesson 83: Rooniok Lace Edging

Lesson 84: Cobweb Lace

Lesson 85: Macramé Prince Weave

Lesson 86: Fancy Lace and Embroidery Points

Lesson 87: Fancy Embroidery for Dresses

Lesson 88: Embroidery with Mercerized Embroidery Cotton

Lesson 89: Embroidery with Metallic Cord

Lesson 90: Imitation Tapestry

Lesson 91: Embroidery on Leather

Lesson 92: Bengal Lace

Lesson 93: Crochet Points

Lesson 94: Medallions

Lesson 95: Mirecourt Bone Lace Edging

Lesson 96: Fancy Work on Raffia Straw

Lesson 97: Imitation Embossed Velvet

Lesson 98: Sculpture Reproduction

Lesson 99: Embroidery on Wood

Lesson 100: Smyrna Rug

Fifth Course of Study
Lesson 101: Combination
Lesson 102: Bed Spread
Lesson 103: Bed Sheet

Lesson 104: Table Cover

Lesson 105: Boudoir Doll Lamp

Lesson 106: White Lace Cushion

Lesson 107: Altar Cloth

Lesson 108: Table Runner

Lesson 109: Kimono

Lesson 110: Towel

Lesson 111: Tea Cozy

Lesson 112: Tray Cloth

Lesson 113: Fancy Box

Lesson 114: Window Panel

Lesson 115: Runner for Dresser

Lesson 116: Lamp Shade

Lesson 117: Handkerchief Case

Lesson 118: Picture

Lesson 119: Curtains

Lesson 120: Parasol

Lesson 121: Sofa Cushions – Embroidered in Colors

Lesson 122: Slippers and Bag

Lesson 123: Baby Dress and Cap

Lesson 124: Imitation Pen and Ink Drawing

Lesson 125: Amphora

Recapitulation of Points

Names and Expressions of Common Usage

The later edition may clearly be seen to have many more topics, cover a greater variety of laces and give a greater number of projects than the earlier book and is in all respects a more detailed volume. In my opinion it is also heavier going. The earlier edition is written in a much more accessible fashion and really does give a full and adequate grounding in all the necessary skills for this type of work. It is freely available to view or download here: http://archive.org/details/singerinstructio00sing .

I have not found an online version of the later title and assume that it is therefore still under copyright. This does however make it difficult for the reader to evaluate and compare the two books and decide whether he needs the later version and this is largely why I am writing this review of it.

The 1941 volume in particular does not give much by way of instruction; as well as referring back to previous lessons much is left to the common sense (and prior experience) of the reader when interpreting the directions. Each lesson is concise but includes good, large photographs, usually in colour and an indication of the weight and type of thread, the size of the needle, the respective tensions top and bottom and a suggestion of fabric and use.

Amongst some of the more novel approaches include using a crochet hook, overlaid with coloured wool down which is sewn a line of stitching to produce a line of loops, which may be either cut or left loopy. A similar technique uses a pair of large needles and a finer thread to provide an attractive, barred infill. Much use is made of cording and padding and the overriding impression is that labour saving as the machine doubtless is, none of these effects are achieved quickly – apart from the need for much practice in controlling the co-ordination of eye, hand, hoop and machine speed there is also the sheer patience required to produce this work in any great quantity, especially the hemstitching, ladder work and laces. Art embroidery it certainly is; it could definitely never be considered commercial!

So, would I recommend the later edition over the earlier one? Yes, I honestly think I would. It provides a fascinating insight into a surprising range of effects which can be achieved and even if I cannot see many people wishing to try each and every topic there is enough here to give most seamstresses some new ideas and some new stitches to try.

I will try to include here some of the more useful points to be gleaned, including a brief explanation of the terms and subjects which I (and I suppose others) have found it difficult to find information on online. I have only given a brief review of the laces and how they appear to be made as they are difficult to describe in any meaningful detail without including the photographs which copyright currently prevents me from including in any appreciable quantity.

Table of Stitches Per Half Inch Showing Suitable Threads and Needles
Embroidery Thread No.

Needle No.

Stitches Per Half Inch

Bobbin

Needle

Old No.

New No.

16

20

20

30

30

40

40

60

60

80

80

100

20

20

30

30

40

40

60

60

80

80

100

100

½

½

½

½

B

B

0

0

00

00

000

000

14

14

14

14

11

11

9

9

8

8

7

7

6

7

9

11

13

14

16

18

19

20

21

23

Sewing Thread No.

Needle No.

Stitches Per Half Inch

Old No.

New No.

120

120

0

9

9

150

150

00

8

10

200

200

00

8

11

Sewing Silk No.

Needle No.

Stitches Per Half Inch

Old No.

New No.

00

000

0000

00

000

0000

0

0

00

9

9

8

10

11

13

A Brief Description of Each Chapter:

Lesson 1: First Stitches

The fabric is hooped for these exercises and the stitch length set to zero so the stitches must be judged and placed merely by use of the eye and the hands moving the hoop. Emphasis is made of the necessity of gaining a good control of the machine in speed, starting and stopping and an exercise set in which the sewer should practice zigzagging, attempting each time to stop in line with the previous zig. The fabric is not pivoted around the needle; rather the user moves the hoop backwards or forwards depending on which direction the stitches are to go. A second exercise involves sewing between parallel lines, in what may be described as a square-ended zig zag and this further hones the user’s skill in stopping neatly on a predefined point.

Lesson 2: Cording

Cording is an important skill to master as so many of the following lessons depend upon it. In short, cording involves stitching a small, close satin stitch over a filler thread so that the result is a raised, 3D satin stitch. The same skills are used for raised embroidery and monogramming as well as some of the fancy stitches used on white goods. The fabric is again hooped and the hoop moved slowly and carefully left and right so that the stitches are formed equally and neatly to cover the filler. The filler is often a couple of strands of darning cotton and is secured by a couple of small stitches before being folded back on itself and stitched over by the beginning of the satin stitching. The filler thread is held in the left hand between the index finger and thumb and is held out just in front of the needle while the other fingers help to hold and move the hoop.

Lesson 3: English or Eyelet Embroidery

Most people will be familiar with this as Broiderie Anglaise. The design is marked out on the fabric and a thin outline of small stitches made around each shape. This is then reinforced by further stitching before the centres are carefully cut out and the edges corded. If the holes are small, a stiletto may be used instead of cutting.

Lesson 4: First Openwork Stitches

Openwork is akin to forming delicate, thread spiders’ webs with rows of parallel stitching spanning thin air from one side of the aperture to the other and then infilled either with further lines running at angles across these, running around over the joins in a circular motion or a combination of both.

Lesson 5: Richelieu Work (Cut Work)

This type of work is a cross between openwork and Broiderie Anglaise as it involves the cutting and cording of shapes but includes the formation of thread bridges across the apertures.

Lessons 6-7: Hemstitching

Threads are drawn lengthwise and are then sewn over and drawn together in bunches by the machine stitch. Further stitches are taken sideways into and back from the adjacent fabric to form a secure edge to the hemstitching and the work proceeds in this fashion to the end of the hemstitching. The lesson also covers fancier and more complex patterns of hemstitching. As the stitch length and thread bundles must each be judged by eye it strikes me that this is a laborious task and is best undertaken by those whose excellent eyesight is matched by their dexterity and skill with a machine.

Lesson 8: Scalloping and Raised Embroidery – Satin Stitch

These all use the same skills as were learned in the cording chapter, namely the overstitching of a filler thread only in the case of scallops and raised embroidery the stitches are shaped and in some cases include further cording to define their edges.

Lesson 9: Letters and Monograms

Yet further development of satin stitch, using all manner of curves, angles, swelling and tapering of shapes together with small, corded holes akin to those described in Broiderie Anglaise.

Lessons 10-11: Fancy Stitches on White Goods

Describing a number of small, regular stitches used as decorative infill. The stitches are not named individually but are referred to collectively as “fancy stitches”. They are all worked in symmetrical bands, bars or blocks so that they work to create a regular pattern across a defined area (for example, a petal).

Lesson 12: Appliqué on Net

Fine fabric such as organdie used in combination with a fine net, with raised embroidery and cording used to secure the edges of the chosen motifs and provide definition thereto.

Lesson 13: English Lace – Braid Appliqué

Similar to Richelieu but using also a narrow braided lace to define the edges and some of the inner shapes. Thread ladders bridge the gaps between the braid and the fabric and the overall effect is similar to the stone tracery and glazing of a stained glass window in a cathedral.

Lesson 14: Brussels Lace

A combination of lace motifs applied to a background net and fine cording applied thereto.

Lesson 15: Filet Lace

Often used as lace curtains this is a lace formed on a net with a large, square aperture across which are worked parallel lines of thread work to form a pattern, a bit like pencilling in squares on graph paper when developing a design for knitting or cross stitch.

Lesson 16: Milan Lace

A complex lace which uses a tracery of braid created by cross-filling between lines of parallel stitching and then provides bridging of small pairs of parallel thread bars each with small pairs of corded picots running perpendicular to the main bars.

Lesson 17: Bone Lace First Appliqué

Similar to Milan lace but more delicate and with shaped, rather than parallel lines of stitching forming the braided tracery.

Lesson 18: Embroidery on Net

Another lesson in which the stitches are not named individually but wherein they are merely applied to form pleasing patterns on the net background.

Lessons 19-20: Needlepoint Lace & Venetian Richelieu Lace

Needlepoint lace involves cutwork, bridging bars and then drawing small bundles of threads together and stitching over them to form a decorative, open meshwork from the background fabric. Venetian Richelieu lace involves the creation of the same open meshwork but without being in connection with cutwork. The two types are often used together though.

Lesson 21: Smyrna Embroidery

This gives a pleasing, flocked finish and is best worked on a fairly heavy background fabric. The design is transferred to the fabric by sketching it out on thin paper, laying this over the fabric, sewing through both along the lines of the design and then tearing away the paper to leave the stitched guide lines. The design is worked in knitting wool held slightly aloft over a crochet hook whilst the resultant loops are machined down. Once completed, the loops are cut through and trimmed down to form a neat, thick pile like a carpet.

Lessons 22-23: Venetian Lace – First Stitches

A very pretty lace consisting of small, decorative stitches, all repetitive but of slightly different form, used as filler upon the background fabric. The various motifs are divided by cutwork and corded bridging.

Lessons 24-25: Shaded Embroidery

This lesson best imitates the long and short stitches used in hand embroidery to provide the sheen and subtle shading typically used when creating embroidered flowers and leaves. The stitch used is called silk stitch and is made with two stitches forwards and one back.

Lesson 26: Teneriffe Wheels

This is a complex design the basis of which resembles spokes in a wheel. The spokes are then spanned by further machine stitching, forming a delicate pattern.

Lesson 27-28: Mexican Drawn Work

Similar to Teneriffe Wheels but worked in squared blocks as a repetitive design.

Lesson 29: Hedebo Embroidery

A delightful embroidery, sturdy in construction yet delicate. It is a small-scale cutwork worked in small shapes – leaves, petals, circles, diamonds and lozenges as the fancy takes. The shapes are then infilled with a combination of bars, ladder work and picots.

Lesson 30: Velvet Appliqué

The design is sketched in on thin paper which is then laid over the appliqué layer (velvet) and the background fabric. Sew through all layers following the lines of the design and then tear away the paper leaving the velvet sewn on to the backing fabric. The excess velvet is then carefully cut away and the raw edges corded.

Lesson 31: Battenberg Embroidery

A pretty embroidery using cutwork and cording together with satin stitch and bridge work to span the spaces.

Lesson 32: Appliqué of Cretonne

This involves the application and embellishment of coloured shapes such as flower clusters, cut from a patterned fabric and sewn on to netting. The edges are sewn using the shaded embroidery technique and other points such as stamens, leaf ribs and inner petal edges may be picked out similarly.

Lesson 33: Blond Lace

Somewhat against what the name suggests, the example given is of a black lace worked on a black net and is formed by stitching the outlines in machine stitching, cording them and infilling in different densities so as to give a sense of variable transparency.

Lesson 34: Valenciennes Lace

A very dainty lace worked on a fine, round mesh net and formed from fine, transparent infills and delicate cording, with minimal cutwork, the overall effect being of great delicacy.

Lesson 35: Cluny Lace

Another lace worked on small, round meshed net. The shapes and cording are much larger and heavier than Valenciennes as are the areas of cutwork.

Lesson 36: Fancy Lace

An exceedingly dainty lace again worked on small, round meshed net. Organdie is used as an infill together with tiny stitch patterns and a network of interlaced picots.

Lessons 37-38: English Point Lace

Extremely similar to the Fancy Lace described above.

Lessons 39-40: Artistic Embroidery on White Goods

Quite a heavy finish of satin stitching in combination with intricate latticework similar to the fancier types of hemstitching and Mexican drawn work.

Lessons 41-42: Renaissance Lace

Shapes bordered by braid are then filled with complex latticework. Cutwork and laddering joins the shapes together.

Lessons 43-44: Fancy Embroidery Points on White Goods

A very time-consuming confection of small and elaborate infills and counted threads.

Lesson 45: Bone Lace – Insertions

Very simple and pleasing but delicate. Very open cutwork joined by long and slender bars and occasional picots adding interest.

Lesson 46: Fancy Lace Edging

Another time consuming work which looks very fragile and difficult to keep nice. A large square trellis is formed within the fabric and the edges corded. The squares are then worked individually, acting as frames within which is suspended further tiny spiders webs of intricate thread work. Some of the squares are in themselves cut away to form larger squares which are then spanned by daisy-type wheels of cording. Pretty but I would think tricky and time consuming.

Lesson 47: Bead Work

The beads are threaded onto a long thread of silk the same colour as the beads being sewn. This string of beads is then laid along the line of the design, a stitch being taken across the thread between each bead.

Lesson 48: Rococo Embroidery

This is embroidery using ribbon turned and stitched down to form flowers, leaves and festoons.

Lesson 49: Venetian Embroidery

Very pretty embroidery worked in neat bars of clearly defined colour blocks, shaded from light at the outer edges to dark at the centre. The centres of the flowers are formed by loops made in the same way as for Smyrna embroidery but left untrimmed.

Lesson 50: Imitation Velvet Embroidery

Worked in a similar way to Smyrna embroidery but with twin needles used in place of the crochet hook and without raising them. The needles are used like filler cords. Sew across the first of the needles as for cording. Then place the second needle alongside it and “cord” this one too. This will give you two parallel rows of satin stitch. Now draw out the first needle, lay it alongside the second one and cord over it. Repeat all the way to end of the motif to be filled. When the rows are all complete, carefully cut open the satin stitched rows. The result is like shaded corduroy.

Lesson 51: Crochet Lace

Uses a picot braid and openwork bridges and wheels.

Lessons 52-53: Duchess Lace

Very pretty and delicate, worked with a variety of dainty infills and picots on a small, round meshed net.

Lesson 54: Bruges Lace

One of my favourites. Worked on a small, round mesh. Delicate lace motifs are applied to the net background and are enhanced by cutwork, dainty ladders and picots.

Lessons 55-56: Spanish Point Lace

Quite a haphazard looking lace, worked with large areas of cutwork and very thin, insubstantial-looking ladders.

Lessons 57-58: Genoese Net

Similar to Fancy Lace Edging, worked on a large mesh made from threads worked across a large aperture within the body of the fabric.

Lesson 59: Malta Lace

A very pretty and well-balanced lace, worked with stitchwork similar to Bone Lace and much use of cording.

Lesson 60: Bone Lace Edging

Similar to Malta lace but with picots.

Lesson 61: Guipiur Lace

Another of my favourites, this is a complex lace worked entirely across meshes and ladders formed by machine stitches. Much use of satin stitches and picots and extremely pretty.

Lesson 62: Venetian Lace

Similar to Guipur but with some of the background fabric retained, albeit worked, within the pattern

Lessons 63-64: Venetian Lace Faces and Figures

The same principles apply as above but the application is to create not a pattern but an object such as the face or the heron used as examples here.

Lesson 65: Cross Stitch

A small-meshed canvas is laid over the main fabric to act as a guide and the cross stitches are worked across both.

Lesson 66: Raised Embroidery on Mesh

Worked within an aperture of the main fabric, the mesh is created by parallel rows of stitched threads sewn perpendicular to one another to form a mesh of the required size. The pattern in then worked in satin stitch across this mesh. When working the pattern, the mesh is sandwiched between a layer of Organdie on top (on which the pattern is traced) and behind by a sheet of transparent paper which is afterwards torn away. The excess organdie is carefully cut away after the filling has been prepared so that the edges may be neatly contained by the satin stitches.

Lesson 67-68: Embroidery with Gold or Silver Thread and Persian Embroidery

The metallic thread is used on the bobbin and the work done face downwards. For Persian embroidery, the work is set the right way up again. Several different threads of different colours are wound together onto the bobbin and the bobbin tension substantially loosened to accommodate them. The top thread may match any of the colours used in the bobbin and the tension set sufficiently tight to pull through the lower threads into an attractive loop. The example in the book shows the goldwork used as a broad border around a colourful infill of Persian embroidery and the effect is most pleasing, giving the same effect as aurora borealis beads.

Lesson 69: Chinese Embroidery

Similar to Venetian embroidery except that the bars of colours are shaped to follow the contours of the petals.

Lesson 70: Wool Embroidery on Net

Worked on a mesh with wool wound in the bobbin and a matching silk on the top. Worked (and the meshes made) according to the instructions given in the book for Italian Filet.

Lesson 71: Artistic Shaded Embroidery

This is a free-hand style where a machine stitch is used to sketch an outline rather than shade the whole. The same stitch is used as for Shaded Embroidery.

Lesson 72: Granite Stitch – Round Stitch

This is a true freestyle stitch where the stitch is fashioned in tiny undulations or loops to form a tiny and very subtle form of shading and infill. The effect is similar to miniscule French knots and the degree of subtlety makes this most suitable for still life studies as well as those where a subtle graduation of colours and shapes is required.

Lesson 73: Penelope Embroidery

Uses a decorative braid called Penelope Braid to make an attractive, looped finish to a group of aster-like flowers. The braid resembles fagotting or a soft, picot braid.

Lesson 74: Shaded Embroidery on Velvet or Plush

The work is sandwiched between twin layers of organdie, the top layer bearing the design and the bottom purely for reinforcement. Once the layers are sewn through and the outlines reinforced by a second row of stitches the excess organdie is cut away from the top layer. The method of working is the same as for Shaded Embroidery given in an earlier lesson.

Lesson 75: Italian Filet

Worked on a mesh, this embroidery uses coloured infill within the mesh squares to form an attractive pattern.

Lesson 76: Frivolite Lace

Delicate cartwheels of picots joined across a central aperture within the background fabric.

Lesson 77: English Lace, Making the Braid

An alternative method wherein the braid is not laid on but is made as part of the design.

Lesson 78: Zambori Lace

A very pretty and substantial looking lace using a similar method of braid making to that given in lesson 77 above.

Lesson 79: Irish Lace

Another of my favourites. Substantial and three-dimensional lace made by building layers of petals and motifs upon a background of picots.

Lesson 80: Lace with Gold Thread

An intricate lace made with closely spaced parallel bars and gold thread used as accents and infill.

Lesson 81: Insertion of Szepes Bone Lace

A pretty and substantial insertion with cording and drawn thread work.

Lesson 82: Kis Koros Bone Lace Insertion

Pretty and substantial, using a lot of worked infill and twin rows of parallel bridging with picots.

Lesson 83: Rooniok Lace Edging

Openwork edged with an elaborately wrought braiding of closely spaced parallel thread work worked over with stitching and corded rows to form a semblance of braid.

Lesson 84: Cobweb Lace

A beautiful and dainty lace which is exactly as the name suggests.

Lesson 85: Macramé Prince Weave

Anyone who lived through the 1970s will be perfectly familiar with Macramé but this one differs. It is wrought across a corded aperture along the length of which have been created groups of parallel ‘warp’ threads of macramé thread. The ‘weft’ is created by a macramé thread which is stitched across to create the pattern.

Lesson 86: Fancy Lace and Embroidery Points

Nothing new in the stitch patterns featured but needing a higher degree of skill. The tiny, repetitive filler stitches are made with raised embroidery and cording on a very fine scale.

Lesson 87: Fancy Embroidery for Dresses

Two methods are described: the stitching of leather appliqué and the use of a machine stitch similar to blanket stitch, worked in wool and providing a decorative outline.

Lesson 88: Embroidery with Mercerized Embroidery Cotton

Worked wrong way up and with mercerized cotton embroidery thread in the bobbin. Worked on canvas with organdie to stabilize.

Lesson 89: Embroidery with Metallic Cord

Quite a fiddly lesson which teaches by what method may be achieved a finish resembling that often seen on military insignia. The method involves winding strands of plain and metallic cords, by hand, around the upper thread, beyond where it leaves the needles eye, laying it across the area to be worked and then securing the end of the cords in place by a couple of small machine stitches. The next row is done with further strands of the cords wound around the upper thread and the process repeated.

Lesson 90: Imitation Tapestry

Using canvas as a base, the machine is used to make a series of stitches worked diagonally across the threads.

Lesson 91: Embroidery on Leather

No mention is made of the use of a special needle but organdie is used behind the work to stabilise it and the work hooped. The same stitches (two forward, one back) are used as for Shaded Embroidery. A second method is shown which involves laying on, and overstitching pieces of wool which may afterwards be carded to give a three-dimensional and fluffy finish.

Lesson 92: Bengal Lace

This is a very pretty and colourful lace. Shaded bars of colour follow the contours of the motif; there are heavily corded borders and colourful ladder work for the bars.

Lesson 93: Crochet Points

Diagonal thread bars use a crochet hook to make a little looped picot at each change of direction.

Lesson 94: Medallions

These may best be described as embroidered “miniatures” as being contained within a small, black, oval frame is the only feature they have in common. Granite stitch and silk stitch are the best suited for this, scaled accordingly.

Lesson 95: Mirecourt Bone Lace Edging

A combination of several different skills and effects – bone lace, decorative thread work and cording.

Lesson 96: Fancy Work on Raffia Straw

The raffia is laid across and stitched down at the ends of each section, according to the shape of the pattern.

Lesson 97: Imitation Embossed Velvet

An interesting and labour-intensive method of creating a raised pile in the embroidery. As well as the main fabric, two layers of organdie are required, one of which bears the design to be wrought and also as many layers of scrim and interlining as are needed to build up a layer the same thickness as the required depth of the velvet pile. Perhaps needless to say, the more layers the deeper the resulting pile; the example uses twenty. Place the plain layer of organdie behind the main fabric to act as a stabilizer. Then add as many layers of scrim and interlining as are required and finally place on top the organdie on which the pattern is traced. The book makes no mention of basting the layers together before proceeding; I leave this decision to the reader. Silk is used as the top thread. With the top tension naturally loosened significantly the pattern is followed and entirely infilled with lines of machine stitches placed as closely as possible to one another so that they form a dense pile. Once the stitching is completed a solution of “mucilage” is applied to the back of the organdie which has been placed behind the main fabric and left to dry. I would suggest PVA glue might be an acceptable modern equivalent. The reason for this is presumably to anchor the back of the threads as securely as possible so they are less likely to draw free when cut. Once the mucilage is dry, turn the work over and with a very sharp knife (scalpel or razor blade, perhaps) begin to carefully scrape the lines of stitching over the top layer of organdie. This should sever the stitches and allow the organdie and layers of padding to be removed one by one until the main fabric is revealed, complete with its luxurious pattern of silk pile.

Lesson 98: Sculpture Reproduction

This is really just a project example of stitches already learned. This is a small, long-necked amphora made in shaded and padded embroidery in such a way as to look three dimensional. It is then carefully cut out and applied to a backing cloth whereon it is supplemented by a corded handle stitched directly onto the backing cloth.

Lesson 99: Embroidery on Wood

A fanciful notion, this is simple shaded embroidery worked on thin wood veneer which has been reinforced by two layers of organdie applied behind it, each in opposite directions for maximum support. No special needle is needed; merely a very fine one. Size 9 is suggested in this example. The wood is suggested to be no more than 1/25″ thick.

Lesson 100: Smyrna Rug

The same method is used as for Smyrna embroidery but upon canvas.

The remaining lessons are merely photographs of items made using the skills learned in the previous lessons. No instruction is given as to their making; merely a mention of the stitches or techniques used so I have decided that nothing useful can be added by covering those.

Copyright of the blog owner 2012