In all artistic handicrafts good workman-ship is obviously an essential quality, and, in ordinary circumstances, to obtain technical excellence, good tools are necessary. The embroideress requires but few tools and appliances, and these should be the simplest and best that are made.
Needles. - It is a mistake to use a very fine needle. The silk thread or crewel must pass loosely into the eye. Unless the eye is relatively larger than the silk, it does not make a sufficiently large hole in the material, and the silk is then roughened and pulled out of shape each time it is taken through the too-small hole.
For general purposes needles known by the name of long-eyed sharps are recommended. When a thick twisted silk is being used, a needle with a roundish eye is the most serviceable. For darned net work (lacis work) and canvas work, needles with blunt points are the best. For gold work the needle should have a long eye and a sharp point - a "rug needle" is useful for carrying cord through the material.
Thimbles. - Workers usually prefer ivory or vulcanite thimbles. Both steel and silver ones are used, but unless they are well made or worn smooth, they destroy the thread. Two thimbles are employed for frame work.
Scissors. - Short, sharp, and finely pointed scissors are the best. For cutting out work a fairly large pair with one sharp and one rounded point is required.
Frames. - The drawing given on page-221 illustrates a common type of frame. It consists of two round pieces of wood, which have a mortise at each end. Strips of webbing are securely nailed along these, extending the full length of the wood between the mortises - to this webbing the work is sewn. For the sides of the frame two flat pieces of wood, with holes pierced at regular intervals, are used; these pass through the mortises, and the width of the frame is adjusted and the work kept tightly stretched by means of metal pins, which are inserted in the holes by each mortise. String is laced through the material and round the flat side-pieces of wood to stretch the work in the opposite direction.
There is another kind of frame, which has,
in place of the flat laths with metal pins, wooden screws fitted with movable nuts to adjust the width of the frame.
A fixed stand for the frame is often used; they are very convenient, but not always necessary. The worker can rest the frame against a table, or on the back of a chair, if she is not using a very large one. Trestles are employed to support the frame for big work.
The frame must be wider than the embroidery by a few inches, all round ; the work should never spread to the full width of the webbing or the lacing. If a long, narrow panel is being worked, the embroidery is rolled on the round top and base of the frame, only a small piece being exposed at a time for the purpose of working.
A tambour frame is useful for small work
(see drawing). It is formed of two rings, or hoops, usually of wood, but sometimes of iron, made to fit closely one inside the other. If metal hoops are used, they must be covered with flannel or baize - a strip wound tightly round. Occasionally the wooden ones are covered in this way, but is only necessary when they become a little loose. They must fit well - there should be only just enough room for the inner hoop to pass through the outer one. The stuff to be embroidered is placed over
the small hoop; the other one is then pressed down over the material, which is firmly stretched by this process. A screw is sometimes used to fasten the hoops together and to fix the frame to a table.
Piercers, made of steel are used for piercing holes in the material for the passage of gold and all kinds of coarse threads. The broad end of this instrument can be used to place the gold in position, to make floss silk lie flat, and in some forms of couching to arrange the lie of the thread.
For transferring patterns to the material the following articles are needed :
Prickers, a long needle for making the pounce, a small sable brush, Indian ink, Chinese white, gum arabic, ox-gall, a tube of flake white, one of lamp black (oil colours), turpentine, white chalk and charcoal powdered, and a small roll of flannel (about 4 inches wide) to serve as a pad for pouncing.