This section is from the book "Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction", by Laura I. Baldt. Also available from Amazon: Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction.
The first stitch which is always used at the top of any design in smocking is simply the outline stitch (Fig. 253), worked on the first row of gathering, let the thread drop naturally below the needle and take up the tip of one plait in each stitch. 27
Single cable (Fig. 253) is worked on second row of gathers from left to right side, like the outline stitch, but reverse the thread with each stitch, e.g., let the thread drop below the line for first stitch, throw it above the line for the second, below the line for the third, and so on. .
Double cable (Fig. 253) is made by working another row of single cable, close under the first row, but reverse the thread in the opposite order, e.g., throw the thread above the line for the first stitch, below for the second, above for the third, and so on.
Wave stitch (Fig. 253) is worked a waving or zig-zag line from left to right, bringing the needle up through the first plait, half way between the third and fourth rows of gathers, work four outline stitches in a gradually ascending line with the thread below the needle, then reverse the thread and make the first stitch exactly beside the fourth and complete four in a gradually descending line with the thread above the needle, reverse the thread again and work up, and so on, keeping in mind that as you work down the thread should be above the line, and that the last stitch of one line and the first stitch of the next line are side by side. Work two or three rows of wave stitch close under each other. If you wish to vary it, work a second group of wave stitch below the first, so that the lower and upper angles of the respective groups meet, forming diamond shapes.
Diamond stitch (Fig. 253), start as for outline stitch, take one stitch in the first place on a gathering thread, with the thread below the needle, another beside the first, in the next plait with the thread above the needle, then half way down toward the next gathering thread, take a stitch in the third plait with the thread above the needle, another beside it with the thread below the needle, then up to the gathering thread again and so on to the end of the line. Re-peat the diamond stitch with points meeting to form squares. A number of rows, covering the surface makes an attractive decoration. When the smocking is completed, it is well to press or steam it before pulling out the gathering thread, in order to make the plaits stay in place and the embroidery stand out. Lay the work face down on the ironing board, lay damp cloth on top and pass a hot iron very lightly over it; do not press on it. Then remove cloth and pass or hold iron over the work until dry.
Fig. 255. - French embroidery, floral design; scallops.
French embroidery or white work is mainly satin stitch, relieved occasionally by seed stitch, matting, French knots and eyelets. It is used for decoration of lingerie and household linen, either in floral designs or initials and monograms (Figs. 255, 256 and 257).
Satin stitch (Fig. 258), sometimes called laid work, because the stitches are laid exactly parallel and close together, across the unit of design; when being worked, e.g., a leaf flower petal, stem or portion of a letter, is worked from left to right, holding the unit so that the stitch may be worked vertically. Bring needle out on edge of leaf next to worker and put it in on opposite edge, putting needle in and out each time exactly beside the preceding stitch, and exercising care to preserve an unbroken contour of the unit. The work is finer if the distance covered by the stitch is short, thus preventing the separation of stitches afterward; therefore if a petal or leaf is rather broad, divide the stitches in the centre, by putting the needle up and down on the center line of unit, but be careful to keep this line even and exactly in the centre of leaf. The satin stitch is usually brought into relief by padding the design before working, this is done on the units by putting several rows of loose stitches in the center of the unit, laying them lengthwise, or in the opposite direction to that which the satin stitch is to be worked, the unit may also be outlined by a row of running stitches; if desired, a stem or other line is padded by holding two or more strands of the thread along it and working the satin stitch over them. The same thread should be used for padding that is to be used for the embroidery.
Fig. 256. - French embroidery, initial.
FIG. 257. - French embroidery, infants' dresses.
The texture of French embroidery is relieved by the use of a few other stitches, for example:
Seeding (Fig. 259) may be carried out in tiny French knots or each seed may be made, using double thread, by two tiny back stitches one on top of the other, scattering these over the petal or half leaf to be thus carried out.
Fig. 258. - Laid or satin stitch, showing padding, finished leaf and working stem.
Matting (Fig. 260) is similar to seeding, but is worked with a single thread, only one back stitch each time and very close together, practically covering the surface. The outline of a unit to be filled with "seeding" or "matting" must be worked in fine satin stitch, padding as for a stem (Fig. 258).
Eyelets (Fig. 261). - Whether large or small should first be strengthened by a row of fine running stitches on the outline, using the same thread that is used for the later working; then if the eyelet is small, the center should be pierced with a stiletto, by putting the point in very carefully and enlarging the hole by a twisting motion, as the stiletto is pushed through. Now the eyelet is to be worked with a close overhanding stitch from right to left, drawing each stitch tightly to make a firm even edge, and occasionally putting the stiletto in the eyelet and twisting it to keep the opening round. If the eyelet is large or oval instead of round, after putting in the running stitches, the cloth must be cut from the center, using a pair of very sharp-pointed embroidery scissors. Care must be taken when working to keep the shape of the eyelet perfect as the stiletto cannot be used. It may be advisable to cut the cloth away from only one quarter at a time.
Fig. 259. - Seeding.
Fig. 260. - Matting.
Bermuda Fagoting (Fig. 262), a form of open work used on sheer materials; it is very easily made without the drawing of threads, and therefore it can be made to follow a line in any direction or curve without reference to the thread of the material. For this a very large needle, No. 1 or 2, or a carpet needle, must be used, and very fine cotton, No. 150 or 200.
To work: Tie one end of the thread into the eye of the needle; the stitch proceeds toward the worker. Take a short stitch diagonally from right to left, tie the end of thread in this first stitch, put the needle into the first hole and take a stitch straight toward worker, bind with two more stitches in same holes, then put needle into second hole and bind it to the third with two stitches, put it again into the second hole and make a stitch straight toward the worker, bind second and fourth holes, then third and fourth holes, and make next straight stitch from third hole, repeat as before (Fig, 262).
Fig. 261. - Eyelets.
Fig. 262. - Bermuda fagotting.
Bermuda fagoting may be used to follow any design or to outline any unit, initial or monogram. Lace edging or insertion may be applied to material with Bermuda fagotting by basting the lace to place and working the stitch so that every other straight stitch is taken through the lace and material; afterwards the raw edge of the material behind the lace may be cut off close to the fagotting.