By Frances Howland
With the lengthening evenings, and the coming of crisp, cool days, every needlewoman feels ambitious to increase her store of household linens, and seeks for something that will be “quite different” from pieces already in her possession. Indeed, there is no subject of greater interest to the average housekeeper, who loves her home and delights in adding to its attractions, than that of table-napery; and if it can be decorated with her own handiwork, so much the more precious.
Elaborate in effect, there is yet not so much time and labor involved as in many another much smaller piece, as close inspection of the worked design will show. The treatment is bold, and all the more pleasing because so unusual. A large, five-petaled flower occupies the center of the corner, outlined with satin-stitch, well padded with a circle of eyelets for the center, and a line of eyelets, three in number, across the top of each petal. The large leaves are outlined in the same manner, the lines of veining being terminated with a single large eyelet, while the outlining of smaller leaves, sprays, and other sections with eyelets gives a lightness and grace to a design that, worked solidly throughout, might be rather heavy. The work is connected at each side by a single eyelet, which makes it continuous, but one corner shows the design perfectly. The edge is buttonholed in s hallow scallops, each consisting of several tiny ones. In size, the cloth is rather more than forty inches.
The stems are well corded, the daisy-petals in satin-stitch, padded, as are also the leaflets, while the centers of daisies and the little circles which end the curving stems are of French knots, set closely together. Plain scallops, buttonholed rather deeply and well padded, finish the edge. But little work is involved, and the effect is beautiful. Completed, this attractive centerpiece is twenty-two inches in diameter, a most useful size.
The grape motif always finds plenty of admirers, whatever its character; and in the model presented it seems exceptionally artistic as to arrangement or combination with daisy- and leaf-sprays. Just enough of eyelet-work is introduced to give lightness, taking not at all from the rich effect which all grape-designs possess in marked degree. The edge is buttonholed in large scallops, rather deeply indented, each formed of seven smaller ones.
The motif is a charming one, and the centerpiece most unusual; there is nothing of the “set” look, so common to repeated designs, and it will prove a desirable addition to the sideboard, the serving-table or the little “occasional” table which is to be found in nearly every room in the house.
Directions for eyelet- and solid embroidery have been so explicitly given that there seems little to add. The suggestion that, in order to have eyelet-embroidery truly effective, each and every eyelet must be perfectly worked, cannot be too often repeated. Often a beginner does better work than after she has become more experienced, for the simple reason that she takes more pains at first. Additional practise should not encourage the needlewoman to slight her work for the sake of getting over it more rapidly, because a simple piece well executed is far more satisfactory in every way than a much more elaborate one carelessly done. If one will accustom one’s self to a certain method of work there will be no difficulty in shaping eyelets neatly. In the first place surround the eyelet with short running-stitches, then make a second run of the same stitches, placing each between tow stitches of the first run. If the lines are of sufficient length they may be stitched on the sewing-machine as a preliminary. This double row of stitches gives a firm outline or edge which deeps the eyelet in perfect shape even after repeated laundering. The center of oval eyelets, such as flower-petals, leaflets, and so on, is slashed in several directions to the line, forming little tabs of linen which are folded back beneath, and the tiny over-and-over stitches are taken over the doubled edge. These stitches should be uniform in size, and as close together as it is possible to take them without overlapping. When the eyelet is surrounded, fasten off with two or three tiny stitches on the wrong side – never carry the thread from one eyelet to another; and do not, for working eyelets, make the very common mistake of using too coarse thread. The edge of an eyelet should be slightly raised, like fine, white wire, and perfectly true to the line. Large circular eyelets, and even small ones, may be treated in the manner described; many prefer this to punching them; if a stiletto is used, do not press it so as to stretch the outline. Many wood workers punch a circle from the wrong side; when this is done a little more skill is required to work it nicely, but the effect is excellent.
Extra pains must be taken with the solid embroidery – satin-stitch –also, if the effect is to justify the effort. The padding-stitches must be carefully laid, lengthwise the form, unless in case of a circle, and the covering stitches taken across them, side by side, close together, but never overlapping. The contour of a leaf or petal should be as true as the stamped line before working. If one stitch is taken a thread or two beyond another, it gives the edge of the form a rough, uneven look that is far from pleasing. And there is no necessity for this. The habit of being accurate, of doing things as they should be done, can be formed in the matter of needlework as in other things; and then it will be found just as easy to take the stitches properly, and get a good effect, as to do the contrary and have the result so unsatisfactory that you will decide “embroidery isn’t really worth while, after all!” It is the worker’s own fault, truly, if it isn’t.