"Table-centres are a necessity of the modern dinner-table. They lend a touch of beauty and colour to the most luxuriantly appointed table, and in a more simple form add a note of pleasing refinement to the most unpretentious board.
There are so many attractive ways and means of using silk, satin, linen, and muslin to grace the centre of the dinner-table, that no one should be at a loss for novelty of idea or conception. To many women table-centres are a hobby, and the collection of them almost a fine art. Quantities in every conceivable shade, shape, and fabric, suitable for high days and holidays and ordinary use, are kept in flat boxes between tissue paper, and taken out as various occasions demand. There was a time when one was content to pile up a few yards of soft silk or satin of an artistic shade into a more or less bad imitation of the waves of the ocean. To this was added the ubiquitous floral decorations or some glittering gauze that caught our fancy and satisfied our ideas. But to-day such adornments for the table are not the vogue.
Exquisitely beautiful ideas may be taken from Indian embroidery, in this wonderful work of gold and silver thread plays an important part, but men and not women are the masters of this craft in the distant East. Such a table-centre presents a very handsome effect at night. The lustrous gold or silver threads kindle in the soft glow of the candles or shaded lamps, and the embroidery gains in beauty as it scintillates in the light. For a smart dinner-party there is nothing more handsome than a rich white satin table-centre worked after the manner of Indian embroidery. The gold and silver thread which accentuates certain parts of the embroidery is shown up to perfection.
A conventional design of pomegranates, worked in a soft bluish grey on white satin, should be outlined in gold thread, the leaves having the basket stitch worked heavily in gold. This table-centre should be edged with gold lace. It is best to use a frame when working in gold or silver thread on satin, and it is always advisable to herringbone the fabric on to a piece of linen to keep it firm.
Another Indian design, which is called " Delhi" work, is composed of peacocks. Lotus flowers form the conventional floral design. A large peacock with a spreading tail decorates each corner. The birds are worked in their natural colours in satin stitch. The tail is embroidered in long and short stitch in green and yellow. The leaves are embroidered in gold, whilst the flowers are worked in the palest shades of blue and pink, dotted with gold tinsel.
A very handsome raised effect for embroidering leaves in gold thread may be obtained by laying rows of cotton cord over the surface of the satin and fastening them down securely. Then place gold thread evenly over them, two threads at a time, and stitch these over the padding; then two more rows of gold thread are fastened between these stitchings, and form what is called " brick stitch."
Another method of gold embroidery is to lay the threads side by side, pass the needle through the material, near enough for an intermediate stitch to be taken backwards; this allows the threads to be laid down alternately. Always sew down the gold thread with strong silk.
Tinsel and silver are also very effective Worked on to muslin. Choose a conventional design, which should be outlined with the silver thread, tinsel and sequins being sewn with a fine sewing-cotton on to the muslin. It is very effective and fairylike work; silver and white always looks well and in perfect taste.
Chinese embroidery shows up its rare sheen on a dinner-table. It is curious work, for both sides of the embroidery are equally effective. A man sits each side of the embroidery frame, and as the needle is passed through the fabric by one embroiderer, it is taken up the other side of the frame, and passed back to its proper place with remarkable precision and smoothness of technique. Table-centres in which Chinese embroidery or colouring is used should be composed of soft silk, and are strongly recommended to those on the look - out for novelty.
Another effective idea is to work upon a good quality silk moirette. A French design, reminiscent of the Pompadour period, representing baskets" of flowers, worked in a soft shade of gold silk, and filled with vieux rose poppies and violets with their glossy green leaves, looks well, whilst a careless arrangement of pale blue ribbon streamers is worked across the table-centre in satin stitch.
A beautiful example of chinese work as applied to a table-centre. The wonderful precision and smoothness of technique of the workers results in the pattern being equally effective on both sides. The colouring is delicate and harmonious
Another curious and quaint idea may be carried out by stamping a square piece of primrose satin with birds and flowers. The birds are worked in pink silk. The bodies of the birds have been thickly padded, and tinsel is worked in a diamond design across the silk. The passion flowers which surround the birds are worked in silver, turquoise blue, and pink. This table-centre has a wonderfully Oriental and jewelled effect, and demonstrates the possibilities and beauty of the use of gold and silver thread on satin for table-centres.
The woman who is clever with her needle and able to adapt ideas that she may come across need never be at a loss for forming her own designs. A mere scrap of some old-world embroidery or specimen of foreign needlecraft will be a mine of wealth to her.
A table-centre of French design reminiscent of the Pompadour period. The flower-baskets are worked in gold silk, the flowers in natural colours, and the ribbons in pale blue