In a household where there is a good deal of work done at home, a workroom is almost an essential. Some people, when only women servants are kept, use it in the place of a servants' hall, and find it infinitely more satisfactory in many ways.
A room over the kitchen should be chosen, if possible, so that a fire is not needed, except on very cold days. In a servants' hall it is always necessary to keep an extra fire going, and the maids are apt to sit over it and idle away their time. Also, the mistress of the house cannot very well go in there to arrange about any needlework that requires doing.
If there is a house-parlourmaid and housemaid, they can retire to the workroom at about three o'clock in the afternoon, and will have ample time to do all the mending of the family, both household and personal. In some families, where there are children at school, for instance, a sewing-maid is a great comfort, and here again a workroom will be found very desirable. In yet another case, the grown-up daughters of the house may be the needleworkers for the household, and require, in addition to the mending, to do some dressmaking of their own. This is apt to be a very unsatisfactory operation unless a room is specially set apart for it, as it causes so much untidiness, and it is impossible to make proper progress in a dining-room, where everything has to be cleared away for a meal. The ideal workroom should be a nice, bright room with plenty of window light, and a good gas-light or lamp for working at night. A solid, steady table for cutting out and using a machine is required, and it should have a drawer in it for keeping the cutting-out scissors, tape-measure, and so on. This should have a serge cover
An original idea for a mending-table. It is invaluable for holding the week's mending, and it is fitted with a bag top to draw up over the pile, thus hiding it out of sight and keeping the articles free from dust
A corner of a pleasant workroom. Such a room is a great boon in a household where much sewing is required to be done. It should be a nice, bright room, and a good gas'light or lamp for working at night should be arranged to go over it when not in actual use. There ought also to be a chest of drawers, of which some, at any rate, are devoted to materials for mending, patching, and so on. One drawer should be left empty for storing any unfinished piece of dressmaking.
Two more things will certainly be required where actual dressmaking is done; one is a bodice-stand and the other is a long glass. It is better to have the bodice-stand specially made for the individual, and a good quality is cheaper in the long run. It will only cost about 12s. 6d. made to measure. It should have a holland case to cover it, and prevent it from getting soiled. With regard to the looking-glass, one in a white or black wood frame, measuring four feet long by rather over a foot wide, will be large enough, if hung at the right height on the wall. Such a glass can often be picked up cheaply secondhand.
A special mending-table for holding the week's mending is very useful, and can be made in the following fashion. First buy one of the little bamboo tables, of which the top measures 22 inches by 15 inches. This will be long enough to hold shirts. It is fitted with a bag top to draw up over the pile of mending and hide it from sight. The lower tray of the table is treated in a like manner, the bag in this case forming a receptacle for socks or for the mending materials. The amount of material to make the bags will be 2 3/4 yards, and a cretonne with a small pattern should be chosen. For the top bag cut off three pieces measuring 22 inches in length, and join these at the selvedges. Turn in a hem at the top and run a slot at the lower edge of it. Now nail the material all around at the edge of the table, putting a little pleat at each corner. To make all tidy cut a piece of plain sateen and nail it over the top of the table (which forms the bottom of the bag), so as to cover the raw edges. Use little gold-headed nails for this. Make the bag on the bottom tray in a similar fashion, cutting the remaining 33 inches in half for it. Put double cords through the slot in the top of each bag. Where there is no sewing-room this table is of the greatest use for disposing of an untidy heap of mending. A dust-sheet should always be kept in one of the drawers in the chest, to be spread on the floor when any dressmaking is being done. A wastepaper-basket is also an
A wooden panel fitted with wire nails, for holding the various reels of cotton. The most convenient position for this to hang is on the wall just above the sewing-machine essential in a workroom, to be put at the side of the worker for throwing in any odd scraps, as this often saves a lot of sweeping up afterwards, and keeps the room tidy while the work is being done, which it certainly cannot be if the floor is covered with pieces.
There are numerous ideas for little etceteras which will be found very useful in any workroom. Such, for instance, is a two-foot roller covered with flannel for use when pressing seams. Then a sleeve-board is also wanted, as the ironing of blouses, after they have been washed out at home is generally done in the sewing-room. A strip of board with reels of the most useful sizes of machine cotton, also ordinary cotton and tacking cotton, secured to it with wire nails, should be hung on the wall just above the machine, so that the hand can readily be laid upon them, and the size required can be seen at a glance. It is also a very good plan to keep a reel of tacking thread with a number of the long needles which are used for tacking threaded upon it. One needle is taken off with a length of thread, and the other needles are slipped down the thread. The needles can be threaded on the cotton one after the other very quickly, and it saves a great deal of time not to have to stop and thread them in the middle of tacking.
One of the best things for keeping paper patterns in is a Japanese paper lamp-shade, which can be hung up out of the way. Each member of the family should have a
A weighted pincushion is a necessity in a workroom. The illustration shows one made on the top of a brick and covered with cretonne special mark on all their paper patterns, so that they do not get mixed.
Then in the work-basket it is a good plan to keep a cork full of thumb tacks for fixing the patterns down on to the material when cutting them out. This basket should also contain a yard measure with one end stiffened for measuring hems. These are to be bought for a few pence at any good draper's. An ordinary pincushion is very prone to get knocked off the table, so a weighted one of some kind is necessary. It is also useful for laying on patterns to keep them from flying about. One of these may be made by putting a pincushion on the top of a brick and covering it with cretonnne.
In the mending-drawer, among the mending materials which should never be forgotten is Shetland wool in black and white for mending stockings and underwear, the un-crushable linen buttons, and some tiny Tom Thumb pins, which often save the trouble of tacking.