Age : 14-18 Years ; 18-24 Years
On looking back at the first lessons in this book it will be immediately evident that any recurrent stitches, or groups of stitches, in orderly arrangement resolves itself into Pattern, and the making of such pattern in the construction of seams and of hems on garments or household gear is one of the most primitive developments of artistic decoration in civilization - in fact, it is frequently the first, and almost the only, civilized trait among certain barbaric peoples. Now, design in its broadest sense may be either decorative or it may confine itself to bare utility with no hint of beauty about it. Design is, in fact, any work that is not accidental, but in the sense in which it is generally used as "Applied Design," it signified an intentional combination of utility with more or less of ornament, and is specially used in connection with what are called "Applied Arts." Design should in its elements be applied, first of all, to adorn and strengthen the construction of those things we work at. In architecture, in making of furniture, in the construction of everything we use in our houses, the value of the work is increased tenfold if this quality of Beauty be combined with its form.
There seems no reason why, if it do not combat with the utility of the work, we should not make ornament of our hems and seams far more than we do. Surely we have no reason to be ashamed of them ! And if this structural design were insisted upon, there would be less need for the application of trimmings such as lace and complicated braiding which, unless it be of the most expensive, is unprofitable to wear, and now that we have learned the general application of stitchery we may make use of the sewing machine for long seams, and expand our hearts and our handiwork in adding ornament and beauty to such parts of our garments as may be most enhanced by them.
In making ornament of embroidery for garments or for useful household articles, it is important to avoid any too pictorial or naturalistic representation of floral or other forms.
If pictures 'are designed it is essentially not on our clothing, and paint and paper or canvas are the right mediums for such illustrative work. On our garments and on most textile fabrics we want Pattern-not Pictures, and a pattern is built up in an entirely different fashion from a picture. If we take two letters of the alphabet, for instance, or even only one, what delightful letter borders they can make if we will only be contented to use such simple motives without the foolish idea that this is too easy a thing to call " design," and we must cram it up with more complications in order to show people what we can do !
We take the letter O, for instance, and perhaps a " full stop." Well, we can all write, though we cannot all draw much, so of Os and full stops let us make a design. We can plan it out with a ruler, or on squared exercise paper, if we like (Diags. 161, 162). Or take a G and an M, and we have quite a pretty border design, and one that can turn a corner quite neatly too (Diag. 163). We can make good pattern out of any single shape, but in its beginnings it is best to keep to more or less geometrical forms and to apply our ingenuity to seeing how many different things we can make of them. This Creative Faculty has been sadly starved in many of us, for our education has tended more to direct our attention to the interpretation of other people's ideas, rather than to the development of our own individual ones, and the possibilities for bringing them out; and it is probable that, were greater scope given to the inventive powers of our children, we should find a vast number of new and useful ideas developing, since no two men, women, or children have ideas exactly alike. The work of the hand in construction and invention demands all our reasoning powers : the eye must balance, proportion, and measure with accuracy ; the mind must consider the strength of the material to resist tension, and wear and tear, the suitability of the work for its ultimate use. Harmony of colour, beauty of form, poetry of symbolism, even these can all be contained in the simplest design worked with a needle and thread, so that many branches of study, mathematics in particular, are represented in the design a girl may make in her clothing or other stitchery, if she be permitted to exercise her powers rightly upon its invention.