There are all sorts of ways in which stitches might be grouped : - according to the order of time in which historically they came into use ; according as they are worked through and through the stuff or lie mostly on its surface; according as they are conveniently worked in the hand or necessitate the use of a frame; and in other ways too many to mention. It is not difficult, for example, to imagine a classification according to which the satin-stitch in Illustration 71 (Satin-Stitch In The Making. ) would figure as a canvas-stitch.
In the Samplers they are grouped according to their construction, that seeming to us the most practical for purposes of description. They might for other purposes more conveniently be classed some other way. At all events, it is helpful to group them. Designer and worker alike will go straighter to the point if once they get clearly into their minds the stitches and their use, and the range of each - what it can do, what it can best do, what it can ill do, what it cannot do at all.
Any one, having mastered the stitches and grasped their scope, can group them for herself, say, into stitches suited (i) to line work, (2) to all-over work, (3) to shading, and so on.
These she might again subdivide. Of line stitches, for example, some are best suited for straight lines, others for curved ; some for broad lines, others for narrow; some for even lines, others for unequal; some for outlining, others for veining.
And, further, of all-over stitches some give a plain surface, others a patterned one; some do best for flat surfaces, others for modelled ; some look best in big patches, some answer only for small spaces.
With regard to shading stitches, there are various ways (see the chapter on shading) of giving gradation of colour and of indicating relief or modelling.
Some stitches, of course, are adapted to various uses, as crewel, chain, and satin stitches ; and these are naturally the most in use. Workers generally end in adopting certain stitches as their own. That is all right, so long as they do not forget that there are other stitches which might on occasion serve their purpose. Anyway, they should begin by knowing what stitches there are. Until they know, and know, too, what each can do, they are hardly in a position to determine which of them will best do what they want.
Our Samplers show the use to which the stitches on them may be put.
By way of resume, it may be added that for line
work, more or less fine, crewel, chain, back and rope stitches, and couched cord are most suitable ; crewel for long lines especially, and rope stitch for both curved and straight lines; for a boundary line, buttonhole is most emphatic; for broader lines, herring-bone, feather, and Oriental stitches answer better; ladder-stitch has the advantage of a firm edge on both sides of it. Satin and chain stitches, couching and laying, and basket work make good bands, but are not peculiarly adapted to that purpose.
For covering broad surfaces, crewel, chain, and satin stitches (including, of course, what are called long-and-short and plumage stitches) serve admirably, as does also darning and laid-work ; and with gold thread, couching. French knots do best for small surfaces only. The stitches most useful for purposes of shading are mentioned later on.
No sort of classification is possible until the number of stitches has been reduced to the necessary few, and all fancy stitches struck out of the list. Enquiry should also be made into the title of each stitch to the name by which it is known ; and the names themselves should be brought down to a minimum.
Reduce them to the fewest any needlewoman will allow, and they are still, if not too many, more than are logically required. Some of them, too, describe not stitches, but ways of using a stitch. The term long - and - short, it has already been explained (page 100), has less to do with a particular stitch than its proportion, and the term plumage-stitch refers more to the direction of the stitch than to the stitch itself. And so with other stitches. It is its oblique direction only which distinguishes stem-stitch from other short stitches of the kind. Running, again, amounts to no more than proportioning stitches to the mesh of the stuff, and taking several of them at one passing of the needle ; and darning is but rows of running side by side. The term split-stitch describes no new stitch, but a particular treatment to which a crewel or a satin stitch is submitted.
The foregoing summaries of stitches are only by way of suggestion, something to set the embroidress thinking for herself. She must choose her own method ; but it would help her, I think, to schedule the stitches for herself according to her own ways and wants. The most suitable stitch may not suit every one. Individual preference and individual aptitude count for something. It is not a question of what is demonstrably best, but of what best suits you.