Hand-knitting was first introduced into England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; prior to that period any rare examples which were known here were imported from abroad. It has now become so much an English institution that few girls and women are not authorities on the art, and not a few men can give a good account of it. Knitting is the art of forming a loose web with wool, silk or other thread, by means of one or more long pins made of steel, wood, ivory, vulcanite, etc. For coarser work in thick wools like those used for jumpers, etc., stout needles are used, but for the finer and closer work, as stockings, thinner steel ones are necessary. There are two stitches—knitting, which is the ordinary plain type, and purling, which gives an ornamental twist to the work. Stocking frames—that is, machines for knitting stockings—were introduced at the end of the 17th century, and at the present time, a very considerable amount of knitting is done by machinery. At the same time, owing to the fact that the work can be done without the use of the eyes and without mental strain, it forms an agreeable relaxation to many. LACES AND TRIMMINGS.
Lace is a development of the old drawn thread work wherein threads were drawn from a base of linen into a design and the remainder sewn in. The simplest and oldest style of lace is the Needle Point, which, as the name implies, is made entirely with the needle. Designs were outlined on parchment, with a needle and flax or silk, and the parchment cut away when the work was completed. Bobbin lace is a development, where reels are used as accessories. Most lace is made by machinery at the present day although in certain parts of the country— notably Devonshire—the hand industry is being revived. NETTING.
This is another form of reticulate needlework, wherein the netting is worked on a steel mesh with a netting needle of the same material. There are several varieties of stitch, as Diamond, Round and Square Netting. PRESSING OF GARMENTS.
Garments made of woollen cloth should be pressed periodically. For this, a large table is necessary, covered with a thick ironing-blanket of not too fluffy consistency. The garment should be laid out on the table, and all creases drawn away. Next, a fairly damp cloth should be spread over it, and the pressing done with a heavy iron ( a flat iron is too light a tailor’s ‘goose’ is better). Remember that pressing is not smoothing; the iron should be merely laid on the garment for a second, and then lifted up and removed to another place, until the whole space beneath the damp rag has been ‘damped up,’ as the tailors describe it. The rag should then be whipped away quickly, and the whole surface of the cloth patted sharply with the back of a Hat brush to force the heat well in, and then gently brushed as it lies, to bring up the pile. A sleeve board should be used for sleeves and other difficult parts. All pockets should be emptied before starting and pulled into shape, as it must be remembered that if any portion of the garment is out of shape when the pressing begins, sucii shapelessness will be rendered permanent by the operation. After pressing, the garment should at once be placed on a hanger, and any fluff from the ironing-cloth gently flicked away. REACH – ME – DOWNS.
Until the late King Edward put the seal of respectability on ready-made clothing, they were regarded as very ‘bad form.’ So many improvements have of late years been effected in the ready-made trade, however, that at the present time it is possible to obtain a ‘Reach-me-down’ which can hardly be distinguished from an honest ‘bespoke-made’ suit. SEWING MACHINES.
This indispensable accessory to the sewing-room was invented by Thomas Saint in 1790. It was, however, a very remote ancestor of the neat contrivance now in use. An American, Elias Howe, followed with his chain-stitch machine, and 1833 Walter Hunt produced the the lock-stitch machine which is the one we know. Sewing-machines are of two kinds —shuttle, and spool threading; the ordinary domestic type of machine, is fed by a shuttle, but the heavier type, used by tailors and shoemakers, are spool-fed. Machines are constructed for manipulation by hand or treadle, and the latest models are driven by electricity. Special machines have been designed for glove-making, shoe-stitching, and other forms of sewing which require special modifications.
There are numerous stitches used in plain needlework, each being specially suited to particular purposes:—
Back-Stitch is really a form of lockstitch. It is a strong and useful one, and is much used for running up seams which are likely to be subject to considerable strain. It is made by taking one stitch forward, and locking it by superimposing another shorter stitch upon it. Neither so neat nor so quick as a Running Stitch, it is to be recommended, on account of its strength, for all heavy sewing.
Blanket Stitch is an ornamental stitch for ‘whipping’ a raw edge which is very much in evidence, to prevent it fraying— as in the case of a blanket edge. Button Holing is a development of this stitch, and it is intended to resist the wear and tear of the button, in addition to protecting the raw edge of the hole.
Chain, Feather, Herringbone etc., Stitches are all ornamental stitches used, with modifications and elaborations, in fancy needlework .
Cross Stitch is a simple stitch, very aptly described by its name. It is generally used for hemming a raw edge which is liable to fray— as, the turn up of a pair of trousers. As a matter of fact, a felling stitch is used for trousers turn-ups, unless the material is very liable to fraying.
Felling is merely a hemming stitch, intended for joining up hems.
This consists of a series of small and neat forward stitches, used for hurried sewing, and also as a stitch intended for ‘drawing in’ the material. It is neat and speedy, but this is about all that can be said for it—the stitch is incapable of withstanding any strain, and if it gives way in one place all the other stitches give way with it. It is essentially the stitch of the careless seamstress. The Basting Stitch is a very large Running Stitch.
SUMMER & WINTER WEAR. The old adage ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May is out’ is more reasonable when it is remembered that this refers, not to the month of May, but to the blossom. The flowers are susceptible to cold, and do not make their appearance until the cold has actually gone. Likewise, flannels worn through the winter, should never be thrown off whilst there is a chance of a cold snap returning, but when once discarded woollens should not be re-donned unless there is radical need. There is no surer way of catching a chill than by chopping and changing in this regard. TAILORING.
It is generally said that the difference between a tailor-made garment and any other is the cut; but this is only partly true. The fundamental difference between a garment made by a tailor and that made by one who does not use a tailor’s methods, lies rather in the internal work put into the job. A dressmaker, on receiving the ‘cut-out’ of the garment, merely sews it together, and lets it go at that: with the tailor that is the last thing done. If a jacket is taken to pieces, it will be found as full of parts as a radio set; canvas, hair-cloth, stay-tape, and hosts of seemingly unnecessary ‘bits-and-pieces’ go to make up the whole; but every piece is essential. The fronts of a coat— known as ‘fore-parts’—are lined with canvas to keep them from creasing, and in places this again is reinforced by uncreasable haircloth or ‘siddo.’ The edges of the garment are bound with stay-tape to obviate stretching, whilst lapels and collars are covered with a ‘padding-stitch’ to ensure them lying close to the body. Every pocket is ‘stayed’ and strengthened, with tapes running up to the seams, so ensuring that there will be less strain on the pocket mouth. Various devices are resorted to, making certain that the garment will fit snugly to the figure—a shrinkage of cloth or a tuck here, a stretch or a gusset there—hosts of preliminaries to the task of sewing together a garment undreamed of by the dressmaker. Various subterfuges disguise deformities in the wearer— mostly in the nature of padding with wadding, or modifications in the cut of one side of the garment. Ladies’ tailoring is not so popular now as it was a few years ago, when the costume was the regulation outdoor wear of ladies of taste; but there are still many who prefer that their garments should be made by a man, notably the sportswoman. The Riding Habit of course, will always be the prerogative of the male tailor. TATTING.
This is an early Victorian form of fancy-work which has recently been much revised. It it really a variety of crochet, done with a tatting-shuttle and a crochet hook. There are only two forms of stitch used—the English and the French—generally employed alternately, and, although they are a little difficult to master at first, once learnt, tatting becomes very easy and fascinating. The results are remarkably dainty, far exceeding the best crochet work. TERMS USED IN DRESSMAKING AND NEEDLEWORK
The metal tag of a lace.
A small circular tailpiece to a short jacket worn by ladies.
To hold together lightly with large stitches preliminary to the permanent sewing.
A thick pin or sharpened stick used for rounding the holes of eyelets or buttonholes.
A short coat like an Eton jacket formerly worn by ladies.
Plaited cord used for trimming, generally made of mohair, silk, or gold or silver thread.
A coarse kind of canvas, highly sized. It is much used in Millinery, Bookbinding and Dressmaking, though rarely in Tailoring.
To draw together with a needle, or darn carelessly.
To gather or crease in a regular pattern.
Having buttons and button-holes on both sides of a coat, in order that it may be fastened either on the right or left side.
Having a small round threading-eye, edged either with metal or with a buttonhole stitch.
Facings. — (I) Linings. (ii) Trimmings in the fronts of uniforms, etc.
Needle-work composed of ornamental stitches.
Having a flap over the button holes, so that the buttons may not show when fastened.
A specially prepared chalk for marking out material.
Drawing in, or pleating regularly, over an area of the material by • means of a running stitch.
A heavy pressing-iron, with a sharp nose, used by tailors.
A wedge-shaped piece inserted into a garment, in order to enlarge it, or part of it.
Same as Gore.
An uncreasable canvas, made from a mixture of cotton and horse-hair, much used for giving body to coats.
A hard-wearing form of sateen, used for linings of coats.
Extravagantly pleated like a kilt.
A fine cloth, woven from flax.
Sewing cotton manufactured specially for use on sewing machines. It is twisted in the reverse manner from ordinary hand cotton.
A pocket sewn on to the outside of a garment, instead of being ‘jetted’ into it.
Placket or Plac/uel.
The slit down the side of a skirt, closed by press fasteners or hooks. lievers.
Lapel. A portion of the garment folded forward, so that the lining or inside is visible.
The hole into which a sleeve-head is sewn.
Two edges of cloth sewn together.
A superior form of haircloth, made from fibre and cotton. It is softer and more pliable than haircloth, though equally uncreasable.
A kind of twilled linen, either patterned or plain, used for pockets and linings.
A long, tapering board, used for pressing sleeves and other inconvenient parts of a garment; also for opening seams.
A form of orna-metal pleating, similar to that on a farm-labourer’s smock-frock.
Narrow linen or hemp tape which is fastened round the inside edge of a coat, or round a pocket mouth, to keep it from stretching.
Holding in place by pinning or basting, preliminary to stitching, Tailor’s Thimble.
A thimble without a crown, used by tailors.
A pleat held in place by stitching.
A strong cotton fabric, woven with a rib, much used for trousers pockets, etc.
A small opening in the bottom of a garment, generally at the bottom of the back.
Brown beeswax, used for rubbing thread to keep it from knotting.
The upper part of a garment, from neck to chest and shoulder-blades.