Inlay lends itself most invitingly to COUNTER-CHANGE in design. In the stole (A) on page 149 the light and dark portions of the pattern are identical. You cannot say that either is the ground; each forms a ground to the other. And from the mere fact of the counterchanging you gather that it is inlaid and not onlaid.
Prior to inlaying in materials which are at all likely to fray, you first back them with paper, thin but tough, firmly pasted; then, having tacked the two together, and pinned them with drawing-pins on to a board, you slip between it and the stuff a sheet of glass, and with a very sharp knife (kept sharp by an oilstone at hand) cut out the pattern. What was cut out of one material has only to be fitted into the other and sewn together as before, and you have two pieces of inlaid work - what is the ground in one forming the pattern in the other, and vice versa. By this ingenious means there is absolutely no waste of stuff. You get, moreover, almost invariably a broad and dignified effect: the process does not lend itself to triviality. It was used by the Italians, and more especially by the Spaniards of the Renaissance, who borrowed the idea, of course, from the Arabs.
In India they still inlay in cloth most marvellously, not only counterchanging the pattern, but inlaying the inlays with smaller patternwork, thus combining great simplicity of effect with wonderful minuteness of detail. The inlaid work of Retsht
To Work Counter-Change
in Persia, Illustration 64 (Inlay In Coloured Cloths), is of a more elaborate character. In both countries they mask the joins with chain-stitch, the colour of it artfully chosen with regard to the two colours of the cloth it divides or joins. Further, they often patch together pieces of this kind of inlay.
Inlay itself is a sort of PATCHWORK. You cut pieces out of your cloth, and patch it with pieces of another colour, covering the joins perhaps as in the Retsht work, with chain-stitch, which, by its likeness to wire filigree, suggests cloisonne enamel.
Where there is no one ground stuff to be patched, but a number of vari-coloured pieces of stuff are sewn together, they form a veritable Mosaic of coloured stuffs, reminding one of what the mediaeval glaziers did in coloured glass. Admirable heraldic work was done in Germany by this method; and it is still universally employed for flag making. The stuffs used should be as nearly as possible of one substance. In patchwork of loosely-textured material each separate piece of stuff may be cut large, turned in at the edge, and oversewn on the wrong side.
The relation of CUT-WORK to inlay is clear - in fact, the one is the first step towards the other. You have only to stop short of the actual inlaying, and you have cut-work. Fill up the parts cut out in Illustration 65 (Cut-Work In Linen) with coloured stuff, and it would be inlay. The needlewoman has preferred to sew
over the raw edges of the stuff, and give us a perfect piece of FRETWORK in linen. It is part of the game in cut-work to make the fret coherent, whole in itself. The design should tell its own tale. " Ties " of buttonhole-stitch, or what not, are not necessary, provided the designer knows how to plan a fret pattern. Their introduction brings the work nearer to lace than embroidery. The sewing-over may be in chain-stitch, satin-stitch (as in Illustration 65 (Cut-Work In Linen)), or in buttonhole-stitch - which last is strongest.
As, in the case of applique, inlay, and mosaic, an embroidered outline is usually necessary to cover the join, so in the case of cut-work sewing-over is necessary to keep the edges from fraying. It may sometimes be advisable to supplement this outlining by further stitching to express veining, or give other minute details - just as the glassworker, when he could not get detail small enough by means of glazing, had recourse to painting to help him out. But there is danger in calling in auxiliary methods. It is best to design with a view to the method of work to be employed, and to keep within its limits. To worry the surface of applied, inlaid, or cut stuff with finnikin stitchery, is practically to confess either the inadequacy of the design or the fidgetiness of the worker. It should need, as a rule, no such enrichment.