This section is from the "The Ladies' Work-Table Book: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America" book, by Margaret Vincent. Also available from Amazon: The Ladies' Work Table: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America.
Embroidery should always be worked in a frame, as it cannot be done well on the hand, except in very small pieces. The same careful attention to shades, before recommended, is necessary here; for small flowers two or three shades are sufficient; but in roses and others, that are large, five shades are in general required; the darker shades should be worked into the centre of the flower, (and it is often advisable to work them in French knots,)* and thence proceed with the tighter, until you come to the lightest, which forms the outline. The pattern must be correctly drawn upon the material, and in working leaves you must begin with the points, working in the lighter shades first, and veining with a shade more dark : you may soften the blending, by working each shade up, between the stitches of the preceding shade. Three,
This applies especially to the working of dahlias : begin with the centre knot and work round it as many as are required.
or at most four shades, are sufficient for the leaves: the introduction of more would injure the effect
Chenille Embroidery - Is very beautiful for screens, etc, but must not be used for any work that is liable to pressure. Choose a needle as large as can be conveniently used, and be careful not to have the lengths of chenille too long, as it is apt to get rough in the working. For flowers, it is necessary that the shades should not be too near. The chenille must pass through the material freely, so as not to draw it. It looks well done in velvet, with occasional introductions of gold and silver thread.
Draw the pattern on the material as before. Work the flowers, etc, to the height required, in soft cotton, taking care that the centre is much higher than the edges. A careful study of nature is indispensable to the attainment of excellence in this kind of work. Pursue the same method with your colors, as in flat embroidery, only working them much closer. The most striking effect is produced when the flowers or animals are raised, and leaves in flat embroidery. Much in this, as in every department of this charming art, must depend upon the taste and judgment - correct or otherwise - of the fair artist. A servile copyist will never attain to excellence.
This is proper for any large piece of work. The rules for shading embroidery with silk apply here; only the work must not be quite so thick on the material; care must also be taken to bring the wool through on the right side, as near as possible to where it passes through, in order that none may appear on the wrong side, which would occasion much trouble in drawing it, even when removed from the frame. When finished, and while in the frame, it will be proper to damp the back with a little isinglass water, and press with a warm iron on the wrong side. This kind of work is appropriate for the ornamenting of various articles of dress, on which, when judiciously placed, it has a pleasing effect.
This is a part of fancy needlework to which too much attention cannot be paid, but it is one much neglected. We want to see native genius developed, and we are convinced that many a fair one could increase our stock of patterns, with new and surprising conceptions, if she could but be induced to make the trial. To draw patterns for embroidery or braid work, get a piece of cartridge paper, and having drawn out the design, trace it off upon tissue paper, or which is better, a tracing paper, properly prepared; after which you will find it easy to pierce it through with a piercer, taking care not to run one hole into another. Lay the paper so prepared upon the material which you intend to work, and dust it with a pounce bag, so that the powder may go through the holes; the paper must then be carefully removed, and if the material be dark, take a camel's hair pencil, and paint the marks with a mixture of white lead and gum water; or if you prefer it, you can trace the marks left by the pounce, with a black-lead pencil, but the other methods are preferable. A little practice and perseverence will enable you to became tolerably proficient in this department, and confer upon you the further advantage of aiding you in acquiring those habits of untiring diligence, which are so essential to the attainment of any object. Ever recollect, that anything worth doing at all, is worth doing well.