This section is from the book "Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting", by Antoinette Van Hoesen Wakeman. Also available from Amazon: Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting: For Use In Schools And In The Home.
While it is absolutely necessary that the outfit for a sewing department be complete, it may be very simple and inexpensive. The one described is of this character. It is adequate for a class of from thirty-five to forty children. As a rule, less than an hour twice a week is devoted to sewing, therefore this outfit is sufficient for the accommodation of between one hundred and two hundred pupils.
The low, folding sewing table, with one side laid off in inches and parts of inches, is used as a desk. The cost of these tables is not more than sixty cents each. Four pupils can use one table.
The chairs should be of different heights, in order that the children may all be able to rest their feet on the floor.
The case in which the work and materials are kept (which is illustrated), is simply a series of nine shelves, arranged between two standards four and one-half feet high, placed against the wall. Arranged in tiers of seven on each shelf, are strong pasteboard boxes, furnished with small brass rings, so that they can be drawn out with ease. Each box is twelve inches long by eight wide, and is five inches deep. On the front part, beneath the ring, is pasted a slip of paper bearing the name of the pupil whose work is placed in the box. On the top of this case is a tier of six wooden boxes in which the various wools, threads, strips of canvas, and other small things used in the department, are kept.
The little models of the first and second grades are kept in two or three large boxes, the name of the pupil being written on a slip of paper, and pinned to each model. When the pupil reaches the third grade, she is given a separate box for her work. The scissors case is a piece of cloth sixteen inches long and eleven wide, on which is stitched a strip that, after it is hemmed across its length on one side, is seven inches wide and eighteen long. This piece is divided into twelve parts, and after being basted, is stitched down the width so that twelve little pockets are formed. The fullness which forms these pockets is laid in plaits along the bottom of the case. The bottom and sides are bound with an inch-wide strip which, when finished, forms a half-inch binding. The top of the case is hemmed, and finished with three linen-tape loops.
The spool cases can be made by the teacher. This case is simply a piece of morocco, oilcloth, stiff brown linen, or any substantial material desired ; in size eight and one-half inches long, four inches wide at one end, and three at the other. Cut the edges into seven shallow scallops a trifle smaller at the narrow than at the wider end. Baste in the center of this piece a strip of cardboard eight and one-half inches long, two and one-fourth inches at one end, and one and three-eighths at the other. Cut a silk lining, baste carefully, and bind about the edges with black tape. Put an eyelet in the center of each scallop on both sides; these may be worked, or metal ones may be used. Double a black silk or linen lacing, and, beginning at the large end with a spool of thirty-six white thread, put it through one eyelet, then the spool, and then the other eyelet, bringing up the sides of the case to the spool. Next put in a spool of No. 40 thread in the same way; continue to put in each time a finer thread until the case is filled, then tie at the end. The spools revolve on the lacing, and the thread is kept clean, and prevented from tangling.
There should be a swinging blackboard in the sewing room, one side of which is laid off in inch squares, to be used by the teacher in the drafting. Blackboard demonstrations are very essential, and a board laid off in this way makes the objective lessons perfectly clear.
There should be a large table for the teacher's use, and a smooth board fifteen feet long and about two feet wide to lay on two of the small tables to form a cutting table for the pupils. This board has been found to be a most satisfactory arrangement; as it is the right height, the pupils can get around it easily, and it can be laid against the side of the room when it is not in use, and be quite out of the way.
There should be thimbles and needles, tape measures and rulers. The needles should always be of the best. The best thimble for ordinary use is of aluminium, as it is light, does not discolor the finger, and always looks bright and attractive. A large assortment of thimbles should be provided, as in every instance the thimble should fit the finger perfectly.
There are four kinds of canvas used, so arranged that the pupil is gradually brought from doing perfect work on very coarse materials to doing the same work on garment fabrics. The first material is the double-threaded Penelope canvas, which does not strain the unaccustomed eyes of the child. As this is not used in large quantities, a small amount is all that is required.
The next material is Java canvas, also double-threaded, and a trifle more closely woven than the first, of which more is required, as the model is larger. The next canvas required is No.1 Ada canvas, which is used for the darning. About the same amount of this is needed as of the Java canvas. More than double the amount of No.2 Ada canvas is needed than of No. 1, as the model of this is the largest of the canvas models.
The first garment fabric used is a quarter-inch checked domestic gingham, either brown or blue. Unbleached cotton cloth is not used in this course, as it has been found that it is not only the most difficult material for children to work on successfully, but it soils easily, and, at best, is unattractive when finished.
The materials used in the advanced grades are good Lonsdale muslin, cambric, coarse and fine linen, and a good quality of flannel. There should be two cupboards in which to keep these materials and the partly finished garments. A few yards of cheap calico should be provided to lay under the materials as they are placed on the shelves, and to bring up over them, that they may be kept in perfect condition.
A good sewing-machine is a necessity in the advance grades. The outfit can of course be as expensive and elaborate as is desired; but the very simple provisions described will serve to indicate what is necessary, whether it be simple and inexpensive, or elaborate and costly. The expense of an outfit of course depends wholly on what is selected. The cost of materials used in a sewing department, which in each instance must be of the kind and quality called for, is about one dollar per capita for each grade, averaging the whole course.
While not an absolute necessity, it is most desirable to have a doll as large as a small child in the outfit of the sewing department. By having a lay figure of this sort always at hand, the pupils can be taught to use the system of cutting, when the regular work of the grade is completed, and to draft all sorts of little garments worn by children. More than this, to make clothes for a big, beautiful doll is always a privilege highly appreciated; and the prospect of being permitted to make such garments is to most pupils a strong stimulus to attentive industry.