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.
A patch well matched is less conspicuous hemmed to the outside of most garments; on white and many other kinds of cloth, it is better to sew the patch to the wrong or under side, as described in answer to question 45.
Fig. 9. - Buttonhole overcast twice with worsted (buttonhole stitch commenced).
Buttonhole : Although the buttonhole is a very difficult part of the work for young children, if the method of making it is early learned it is a great help to careful sewing, and can be practised on canvas in the early part of the second year.
A fine needle and thread should be used in overcasting a buttonhole on cloth, because the edges may be overcast twice with a fine thread, and these stitches will not show under the buttonhole stitch when it is made with the coarser thread.
A buttonhole should be made with one needleful of thread, if possible. In case of accidental breaking, it can be joined underneath by a running stitch, while the unthreaded end is firmly held with the work by the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, and the needle put through the upper side in the loop of the last stitch, making the joining perfect. Diagrams of this work should be drawn upon the blackboard.
Explain the use of the buttonhole scissors,* and show how to find the length needed for the buttonhole by measuring across the button; then give the class a piece of ruled paper 3 in. x 5 in., and let them fold or double this paper across the lines; on one of these lines make a dot 1/4 in. from the folded edge. Now, with the pointed end of the scissors, let the pupil make a small hole at the dot, and cut a perfectly straight slit the length desired for the buttonhole, using the ruled line as a guide. In order to acquire skill for well-finished work, the teacher should impress on the pupils the necessity of grasping the work firmly between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, especially when working the buttonhole, having the thumb-nail just below the point where the needle is to be inserted.
Running or gathering: When a longer piece of cloth is to be sewed to a shorter piece of cloth to give additional fulness, gathers are used, as in frills and flounces; skirts are gathered into waistbands; sleeves are gathered into wristbands, etc. Test the firmness of the cotton before beginning to gather.
Gathering should not be undertaken until the running stitch can be well done. A piece to be gathered should be taken from the width of the cloth, as the fulness is easier to arrange, and the stroking has more effect upon the width than the length. A binding should be taken lengthwise of the cloth, because it will not stretch. These points must be carefully explained to the class.
The next step is the careful marking of the half and quarter measure of the ruffle and the band with a cross-stitch. The gathering thread should be coarser than the thread of the cloth. The thread should be a little longer than the piece to be gathered, and the needle large enough to carry the thread easily.
* Buttonhole scissors are not found in every home; and for that reason, it would be better to use ordinary scissors in this lesson.
The thread is fastened firmly about a pin at the end before stroking is begun (see question and answer 64), as that part of the work cannot be well done if the thread is loose. A large needle or pin should be used for stroking, as a fine one would tear the cloth, which may be done also by too hard stroking. Any scratching sound is the sign that the stroking is too hard.
Work Bag (Fig. 10).
Fig. 10. - Work bag.
To hold this and the following year's work, a bag is made of printed calico with a pocket on one side for the thimble, etc. One width of calico 24 in. wide and 28 in. long will make two bags 14 in. long and 12 in. wide and without a pocket.
Making the bag: Tear the cloth lengthwise into halves. Double one strip of cloth in the centre and oversew the selvedges. Stitch the raw edges together and overcast. Make a hem 3/4 in. wide at the top. The pocket can be made of a small piece of calico 3 in. wide and 4 in. long with a hem 1 in. wide. When a pupil has learned to make a buttonhole, let her make one in the middle of this hem, lengthwise with the pocket; turn in 1/4 in. of the three raw edges; now the pocket is 3 in. long and 2 1/2 in. wide, and is hemmed to the bag, the hem of the bag being a guide to the placing of the pocket. The thimble, small spool of silk, etc., can be carefully kept in this pocket.
A small piece of tape I in. square is sewed on the inside of the bag, as a stay for the button. The button is sewed on the bag, opposite to the buttonhole in the pocket. Now the pupil first prints with a pencil and then stitches her name on a piece of tape, which is sewed directly over the pocket. Work bags should never be drawn with strings, as that will crush the work and make it look untidy. After the work is neatly placed inside, and a pupil selected to collect them, the bags should be placed in a box or drawer until the next lesson.
If this care is taken, the work can be more quickly distributed, and pupils may begin to work in a very short time after being seated. To allow children, who are working at the same point on their samplers, to sit near each other, has been found to excite the ambition of all.
A pupil should always have in her bag pieces of white cotton, silesia, and woollen cloths, in which one, two, three, or more buttonholes have been cut. Whenever there come moments of waiting for the teacher, or at other unoccupied times, the pupil should practise buttonhole making on these, according to the rules which have been given; a perfectly made buttonhole being given her as a model.