This section is from the book "Feeling Better? Amusements and Occupations for Convalescents", by Cornelia R. Trowbridge. Also available from Amazon: Feeling Better.
OF course you might offer to darn the family stockings or restore missing buttons, but suggestions for such occupations we leave to your philanthropic impulses-if any!
Sewing to be attempted in bed should be something easily picked up, easily handled, easily laid aside. You may prefer to rummage in the family rag-bag or its twentieth century equivalent for scraps of colored prints to make a beanbag turtle, Figure 17. Cut the pattern in duplicate. The tail, legs and head should be of plain goods. Have them in place-which means pointing inward-when you sew together the upper and lower shells of the turtle, wrong sides out. Do not
Figure 17 overlook making the eyes with black thread as soon as the head is cut out. When the turtle is turned right side out, through the slit you have left in one side, you will find it very engaging. With a small quantity of beans inside the shell it will squat on its tail and can be played with in more ways than just throwing it.
Cross-stitch is second only to knitting in its appeal to men. Done with worsted and a blunt tapestry needle on monks cloth, it goes very quickly, especially if done with Germantown or some such soft worsted on the monks cloth which runs twelve threads to an inch. Use four, nine or sixteen squares of the cloth for each square of the pattern, according to the coarseness of the worsted and the size of the design. The monks cloth should be stitched around the edge on the machine or overcast to prevent raveling. A bag adapted to many uses can be made from a strip 12 x 24 inches. One or both sides of the bag can be covered with a design in blocks or a figure can be centered in each half or a row of figures worked across the top or bottom. Be sure that all the under stitches run in the same direction and then the top stitches will look after themselves. It is often easier to work out the whole pattern first in the under stitch. If someone can do this for you, putting in the crossing threads will be just play. To finish the bag, sew up the edges, line it with sateen and make a handle of monks cord with eight strands of the worsted knotted according to the directions on page 20 or of a strip of the cloth two inches wide, worked with a row or two of cross-stitch and folded over.
Cross-stitch patterns may be obtained wherever embroidery materials are sold. Those that are illustrated on page 121 may interest you because of their origins. They may be worked singly or in rows or to make an all over design. The small animals are from peasant embroideries or textiles. The large cat is from a Peruvian textile antedating the Spanish Conquest. The strutting cocks are taken from a saddlebag woven in brilliant colors by a Sardinian peasant. Above them is a useful design for all-over work on the side of a bag- or rather a quarter of it, to be filled out.
For the wall hangings so much in vogue, monks cloth done in cross-stitch is effective. An all-over pattern of the Peruvian cats-or call them pumas if you prefer-is very decorative. Use black or dark blue in one of the tighter, firmer yarns. Five rows of three cats will make a panel almost square, three rows of three
Cross-stitch Designs an oblong one. Work the cats against a plain background in alternate figures, and fill in only the background in the others, making a checker-board effect, as did the ancient Peruvian who designed them five centuries or more ago. Leave a plain margin or work a border in some simple design. If the wall hanging is for a child's room, adapt to the size of the cloth used any quaint cross-stitch figures of men or beasts and do them in bands of gay colors. Wall hangings should be lined with some firm material like sateen and hung from rods.
A set of doilies in Italian hemstitching make light and easy work. Get heavy linen in any color your fancy settles on, though white or natural linen is most satisfactory in the long run. Imported, round-thread linen is necessary for really good results. The thread should also be linen and should match the threads of the linen cloth as closely as possible in both color and size. Cut the doilies to measure not less than 12 x 18 inches.
Beginning half an inch from the edge of the doilie pull 4 threads, skip 4, pull 4. But, if you want to put in a little extra effort to get a firm, even hem, do not draw the threads all the way to the corners. Cut through all the threads to be drawn about an inch from both ends, work them out carefully to the inner edge of the hem and leave the ends to be tucked into the hem. Figure 19, a shows two stages of this method. However the threads are drawn, the next step is to hem the doilie to prevent raveling.
You are now ready to start on this Italian adventure. Punto Quadro, the name by which this stitch is known, is done on the right side and the four stitches taken outline a square, as you will see. Hold the doilie with the hem uppermost. Fasten the thread on the wrong side and bring it through the lower row of drawn threads. It is wise to use a blunt tapestry needle. The four stitches are illustrated in Figure 19.
1 Pass the needle under four threads to the left. (Figure 19, b)
2 Bring it back to the first point and up diagonally to the left, under these same four threads, to the upper row drawn. (Figure 19, c). By this stitch you have drawn the four threads together in a cluster.
3 Pass the needle to the right around the four threads in a loop or backstitch, drawing them into another cluster directly above the first one. (Figure 19, d).
4 Lastly bring the needle down again to the lower row and take up the next four threads to the left and make the next Punto Quadro around them by the same four stitches. Figure 19, e shows the fourth stitch and the way your work will look as you go on.
If you prudently practice the Punto Quadro on a scrap of linen, you can also experiment with putting in a second row of it further in from the edge. Again draw 4, skip 4, draw 4. The number of threads left between the two rows of Punto Quadro should be a multiple of 4. On a doilie they should be pulled before the hem is made. There are many possible variations, both with combinations of the simple Punto Quadro and with hemstitching clusters. For these clusters and highly decorative looped edges and raised figures you can get directions in some such handbook as is published by Carmela Testa and Co., Boston. Hemstitching ranks next to knitting as pick-up work.
One last word of advice. So long as you are still in bed, to save exertion use always short needlefuls of thread. And please take heed that this chapter suggests only pieces of work that can be laid aside easily at the first hint of fatigue.
All large department stores carry monks cloth, which comes now in various colors, worsted, linen thread and tapestry needles. If it is difficult to procure imported, round thread linen, send for it to James McCutcheon, Fifth Avenue, New York.