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.
This is made of broad satin ribbon, and must not be less than two nails and a half wide: its length is two yards and three quarters. The ribbon is to be doubled on the wrong, side, and run in a slanting direction so as to cause it to fall gracefully on the neck. The ends are to be embroidered and ornamented with braid, or left plain, as may suit the fancy. The scarf is to be surrounded by an edging of swan's down. This is an elegant article of female attire.
Plain Scarf - This is generally made of net, the whole breadth, and two yards and a half long. It is hemmed all round with a broad hem so as to admit a ribbon to be run in, which gives it a neat and finished appearance.
This is an elegant article of dress and can be easily made. The material is a rich Cashmere, and three colors are required : that is, black, scarlet, and a mazarine blue. You must have the scarf four nails and a half in width, and one yard and six nails in length: this must be black. Then you must have of the other two colors, pieces seven nails long, and the same width as the black, and you are, after finding the exact middle of the black stripe, to slope off one nail and a half toward each side, and then slope one end of the blue and of the scarlet piece, so as to make them accord precisely with the ends of the black previously prepared. You are to cut one nail and a half from the middle to the ends. You are then to split the blue and the scarlet stripes down the middle, and join half of the one to the half of the other, as accurately, as possible. The pieces thus joined together are to be sewed to the black stripe, and the utmost care must be taken to make the points unite properly. You are to sew the pieces fast together, and herring-bone them all round on the right side. You finish by laying a neat silk gimp all round and over all the joinings. It should be of a clear, bright color. The ends are to be fringed -with scarlet and blue, to correspond with the two half stripes. This is suitable for a walking dress, or an evening party.
Take a half square of one yard and twelve nails of satin velvet or plush, which you please, and line it with sarcenet either white, or colored; trim the two straight edges with a hem of either silk or satin, from one to one nail and a half in breadth, and cut crossway. Or you may trim it with fur, lace, or fringe.
You will require for the centre a piece of colored Cashmere, one yard six nails square, which is to be hemmed round with a narrow hem. You must then take four stripes all of Cashmere, or of a shawl bordering to harmonize or contrast well with the centre, which must be hemmed on both sides, and then sewed on, so as that the stitches may appear as little as possible. The border should be three nails broad, and of course joined point to point at the corners ; and it must be so set on as that the two corners shall fall properly over each other. The shawl is finished by a fringe set on all round, and sometimes by a colored gimp laid on over the joinings.
This may be made of cloth, merino, or silk; and either a whole, or half square, at pleasure. The dimensions are one yard and twelve nails, and the lining is of silk. In order that when the shawl is doubled the hems of both folds may appear at the same time, care must be taken, after laying on the border on two successive sides, to turn the shawl, and then lay on the remainder of the border. The trimmings for these kind of shawls are of great variety.
This is easily made, and is very warm and convenient. Take a square of wadding, and double it corner-ways ; cover it with muslin, or silk, and trim it as you please.
These may be made either of half a square of black silk, entirely covered with crape, which is proper for deep mourning, or you may take half a square of rich and rather dull black silk, and border it with a hem of crape, two nails deep, laid on upon the two straight sides of the shawl.
These are generally made of fine Irish, or calico. They are made either with gores, or crossed. The latter is the neatest method. Two breadths are sufficient for a full sized shift, and gores are cut off a given width at the bottom, and extending to a point, in order to widen the garment. In crossing a shift, you first sew the long seams; then you double it in a slanting direction,
So as to mark off at the top and bottom ten nails at opposite corners ; this done, you join the narrow ends together, and sew the cross seams, leaving a sufficient slit for the arm holes. There are various methods of cutting the back and bosom. Some cut out a scollop both before and behind; but in this case, the back is hollowed out one third less than the front." Some ladies hollow out the back, but form the bosom with a flap, which may be cut either straight, or in a slanting direction from the shoulders. Another meth d of forming the bosom is by cutting the shoulder-straps separate from the shift, and making the top quite straight; bosom gores are then let in, in front ; the top is hemmed both before and behind, and a frill gives a neat finish to the whole. The sleeves may be either set in plain or full, as suits the taste of the wearer. Sometimes the sleeve and gusset are all in one piece; at other times they are separate. In all cases, great care should be taken in cutting out, riot to waste the material. For this purpose it is always advisable to cut out several at one time. Shifts for young children of from five to ten years of age, are generally made with flaps both before and behind. This is decidedly the neatest shape for them. The bottom, in all cases, should be hemmed with a broad hem.