The needle-workers of to-day have much cause for congratulation that the most appreciated and most artistic kinds of needlework are those that require the least labour. In comparing embroidery of even twenty-five years ago with that of to-day, an immense difference can be noticed in not only the kind of stitch used, but in the designs and motifs employed.
The simple stitch of darning is now all the rage, and many beautiful traycloths, bedspreads, and tablecloths can be made attractive by this means. In looking at our illustrations, it will be noticed that coarse materials are invariably made use of, and that the darning itself is not by any means fine. Hand-made crash, Russian crash, and linens of all descriptions are used. Variety is given to the work by the direction of the lines of darning. It will be noticed that the oblong traycloth is worked in the coarsest white cotton, and the most beautiful effect is obtained by running the darning horizontally and diagonally across the spaces.
Portiere Of Monk's Cloth With Stained F.Lue Border The Pattern Is Worked In Darning In Two Shades Of Blue.
A distinctive feature of the work of to-day is the introduction of contrasting colour appearing from underneath the darning. This is done by means of a stencil or wood block, the latter, however, being the most recent plan. This is not at all difficult to do. To make the block a close grain of wood must be chosen - holly, boxwood, or maple, and it must be from half an inch to one and a half inches in thickness. The block must then be planed and sand-papered on both sides. Then trace the design on to Japanese paper, and press it on the block. The background of the design is then cut out by means of a sharp penknife, thus allowing the design to stand out in relief.
After having made the wood block, the next process is the making of the pad, which consists of squares of muslin somewhat larger than the block itself. Lay these upon a plate, or nail them to a small board. Now use a little dye, mixing it first with a little mucilage. Spread it over the pad until it has thoroughly absorbed the colour. To determine whether the right amount of colour has been put on, turn the pad over, and if it does not drip there is not an excess, and probably just the necessary amount. Now take the wood block and press the carved side down upon the pad, and wipe off all the colour. Repeat this a number of times, until the pores in the wood block are completely filled with colour. Then polish with a soft cloth, and it will be found that the block is in good working condition. In printing a design like the traycloth before referred to, it would only be necessary to make a wood block of the star and the dividing line between them. It will be necessary, therefore, to plan the design when it is being printed on the material.
Tack the fabric tightly on a drawing-board. Then press the wood block on a pad, and when it has absorbed a thin even colour, stamp the fabric with it. This will give a beautiful tinted groundwork for the darning. Many needle-workers stamp the colour on the large masses in the design, and have none on the intervening spaces.
On examining the traycloth, it will be noticed that the centre ornament has been treated with a wood block, and also the four corner ornaments. These are outlined with embroidery stitch, and then one row of darning worked in the printed spac The centre part is more solidly worked. The spaces between the four corners have a very light and graceful effect by being in contrast to the corners.
A Handkerchief Case With Background And Pattern Darned. Table-Cloth Showing Fine Background In Darning.
The chair-back design again shows the introduction of colouring in the solid parts, but in this case the printed colour is almost the same as the darning. A very pretty effect is given by the symmetrical lines of the background borders.
In most of these modern pieces of needlework, darning is introduced to hide the stitching of the hem line.
A very beautiful handkerchief-case had the entire background darned, while the flowers, which were also darned, were made with much finer stitches and were then outlined with a dark thread.
A tablecloth, divided in sections by drawn work, shows some very fine background darning, the design appearing in linen thrown in relief by the exquisite workmanship of the darner. This is perhaps the most beautiful of the pieces illustrated. Only one skilled in needlecraft could ever get this effect in darning. This tablecloth shows how the results are obtained. The background of the design is coloured first, and the ornament is delicately outlined in embroidery stitch. Then the background is carefully worked in. The illustration shows half the cover complete.
The pillow from Pratt's Institute shows an altogether different treatment, for here no outline marks the design, darning being the only stitch employed.
The book, with its cover ornamented across the top, shows most beautiful workmanship. The material is a coarse crash, making it easy for the needle-worker to take up alternate threads.