This section is from the book "Progressive Lessons In The Art and Practice of Needlework", by Catherine F. Johnson. Also available from Amazon: Progressive Lessons In The Art And Practice Of Needlework.
The training of previous years should have taught pupils the best way of preparing and finishing work, so that the time in this year may be used in gaining a practical knowledge of cutting, fitting, and making simple cotton dresses.
Linings for these dresses are fitted by the pupils to some girl's form; this work together with the practice in measuring makes a thorough foundation for the future study of a "System for Dress-cutting." That process of fitting is more rapid when the proportions of a form are well understood. A gored skirt is often used for a skirt lining or for an under-skirt, and a pattern for this is made from measurement this year.
In connection with this instruction, talks are to be given on what constitutes true and refined taste in dress. The pupil should learn that a good material simply made is always appropriate, attractive, and serviceable. The talks on good taste are illustrated and enforced when buying neat prints and ginghams for school practice, and by showing how to make garments fit well.
The importance of considering individual form in the choice of material, and in the pattern and style of dress, should be pointed out. For instance, fulness in waist or skirt, which is becoming to a slender person, is very unbecoming to a stout person, especially if she is short also. A tall and slender person, to whom checks are becoming, should avoid stripes that run lengthwise, as they apparently add to her height. A short person looks shorter and broader in plaids or large checks. Flounces decrease the appearance of height and add to the width, as do tucks and puffings. Narrow lengthwise pleats seemingly add to the height. Plain, dark colored cloths make the figure appear slighter than do light colored cloths. These and similar facts should be considered before a dress is bought.
Also that the number of yards of material needed for a dress depends upon the size of the person to be fitted and the width of the material to be used.
The teacher may have for this class a book of fashion plates, such as would be appropriate for pupils to use when choosing designs for making their own dresses; and also a few patterns to assist them in forming others; this practice will lay the foundation for dress designing. Crayons or water colors can be used advantageously to illustrate patterns.
Especial care should be taken with the basting, as a waist which is well cut may be spoiled by careless basting. The waist seams should have bastings 1/8 in. long, like the first basting taught on canvas.
In basting wide hems and facings, several points should be carefully-observed: 1. Any large piece of work, like a dress skirt, should be laid upon a table or desk, the doubled edge of the hem nearest the worker. Then the work is not being dragged out of the hands by its own weight.
2. The hem to be basted should lie flat upon the table, while the fingers of the left hand move along the hem in front of the needle, as it is pushed through by the right hand; this holds the hem in place. The basting should be kept evenly 1/8 in. from the folded edge of the hem. This practice greatly helps a person to properly baste linings to the dress material, although the basting stitches are there made longer, and one inch from the cut edges.
3. When turning the hem in checked or striped cloths, care should be taken to match the checks or stripes at each seam. If they are exactly matched on the hem, there will be no further trouble with them. Good results depend on careful preparation.
Great care should be used in cutting plaids: they are very difficult to match, and material is often wasted when not cut by the right line. When the checks are of two colors, say pink and white, cut them so as to separate the checks exactly, then the whole pink checks will be on one end of the length, and the whole white checks on the other end. Join the pink checks for the lower edge of the skirt, and all the white checks will be on the upper edge of the lengths. Uneven plaids, if cut exactly in the centre of the checks or close to the edge of the check, can be matched the same way.
When a pupil has obtained good results in cutting and fitting a round waist pattern from paper and cambric, then cloth for a dress lining can be given to her. After cutting a round waist lining, she can be taught the difference between a round waist and a basque.
A round waist is often made with one dart at each side of the front and has all its seams finished at the waist line (Fig. 79). A basque differs from it in having all the seams fitted below the waist line; two or more darts at each side of the front; one or more under-arm pieces for each side of the waist; and one side form for each side of the back (Fig. 80). The back of a basque, like the round waist, is divided by a centre seam. The centre pieces of the back have a gradual curve from the back arm-size to the waist line. Particular attention should be given to these back centre parts, as the symmetry of the entire back depends on their proportion. For a 24 in. waist these centre pieces should measure at the waist line 1 1/2 in. after the seams are sewed; they should be increased or lessened according to the size of the waist.
Fig. 79. - Pattern of a round waist.
To fit a basque lining: For a form which has a bust measure of 32 in. and waist measure of 24 in., take 1 1/4 yds. of lining. (The cut edges are on the width of the cloth.) Pin the cut edges together, as the cloth is to be cut double, and both sides of the lining are fitted to one side of the form. Turn 1 1/2 in. for a hem. The width is now vertical, the length of the cloth horizontal. The width threads of cloth stretch in wearing, and the lining is cut in this way to remove all tendency to wear short-waisted.