Chief among the aids for the practical needlewoman, taking first rank among her valuable assistants, comes the sewing-machine. For hard wear and every-day use machine-stitching is generally much neater and stronger than hand sewing, and the pace, of course, is far quicker. Her sewing-machine is a good friend to the busy woman who has most need to practise the art of preventive mending, for strength and speed are two of her chief demands.
It pays to understand one's sewing-machine, and to treat it with tender care. Rough usage, or careless handling, through ignorance of the rightful functions of the different delicate pieces, may lead to dire disaster. A handbook of instructions is always given when the machine is purchased; cherish this book, for if it is mislaid you are at sea without your chart. The inexperienced girl who makes her early attempt to fathom the mysteries of the sewing-machine will find that a little personal instruction (which may be had at the depot of her own make of machine-will be more helpful than an hour spent in trying to solve intricate problems by the aid of the printed, page. Later on, however, the printed directions will read lucidly enough when her mind is conversant with the everyday workings of the machine, and an intelligent glance at her useful little handbook will disclose to her the cause and the remedy of the defective action.
Keep the machine scrupulously clean and thoroughly well oiled. To-do this is again to recognise the wisdom of preventive measures. An un-oiled, dirty machine will always cause trouble in working, for when the parts do not run smoothly, dropped and uneven stitches are a frequent embarrassment.
Oil in every part, and open audi turn back so that when the oil has soaked through, the clogged dirt may be carefully cleaned away.
A capacious mending basket is a necessity for the practical worker, and it is all the more convenient if it stands upon legs.table height, and can be carried about to be stationed just within comfortable reach of the mender's right hand.
Keep always some tailor's canvas for use as stiffening, buckram for millinery, white leno and fine black lining, rolls of old linen and flannel for patching, stray pieces of lace, and left over lengths of embroidery or insertions. Roll up all oddments in soft, clean muslin with tape or label attached, on which is written a list of the trifles to be found within your treasury.
If you frequently find your tape measure mislaid, try this plan, and thus prevent the long searching that interrupts your sewing. Cut as long a piece off your tape as will stretch from end to end of your machine, and paste it along the front edge of the stand. It thus will be always at hand when required, and will serve at any rate for all the shorter measurements required.
It is a good plan to assemble your hooks and eyes on safety pins. Slip the opened pin through the separate hooks and eyes, then when they are all securely dangling, firmly close your safety pin, and they are ready for use when needed and will not get tangled and twisted together as so often happens if they are kept in a box.
DIAGRAM SHOWING HOW TO MEND A CHEMISE SLEEVE-.
Keep odd buttons in glass bottles. No more hunting in the dark and dust ! Yon can see the button for which you are searching, and by shaking the bottle can bring it near to the top, where it can be easily reached. Bone or pearl buttons for underwear, or any others that are not affected by exposure, may be securely fixed upon a hairpin. Straighten out one of the long hairpins, bend back one end about a quarter or half an inch, run the point through the holes, and when your buttons are neatly crowded together turn up the other end to hold them securely.