This section is from the book "Clothing And Health. An Elementary Textbook Of Home Making", by Helen Kinne. Also available from Amazon: Clothing And Health.
Did your grandmother ever tell you how she learned to sew when she was a girl? Have you seen her sewing sampler? Shall we learn the stitch she used on her sampler?
Before the days of sewing machines, the family-sewing was all done at home and by hand. To-day we have factories and shops, and we can buy many articles of clothing ready-made. All little girls were taught to sew at home in those days. Sewing was not generally taught at school. Many long seams were given to the girls to sew. The girls had much practice and learned to sew very well. Every little girl was supposed to make a sampler. The picture shows two samplers (Fig. 85). Barbara Oakes has two samplers which she values very much because her great-grandmother and grandmother made them. Perhaps you may have one which your grandmother made. The stitch used for the samplers was usually the cross-stitch (Fig. 87). Would you like to learn to make it, too? It is a decorative stitch and is often used for marking linen. Grandmother and great-grandmother used to mark their sheets, pillowcases, and other household linens with tiny initials of cross-stitch. It is possible, also, to make quaint designs of the same stitch. Perhaps you would like to learn to make such a pattern. It is necessary to have squared paper and to make the crosses conform to the figures or initials wished. The picture (Fig. 86) shows how to make the crosses fit the squares.
Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Fig. 85. - Two samplers of long ago.
Fig. 86. - Cross-stitch designs can be easily made on squared paper. A, initial for towel; B, design for repetition on table cover or scarf.
Will you try to make a design for the cross-stitch?
As the design is made on the squares, it is necessary to use squared canvas called Penelope canvas in working this cross-stitch. The canvas is basted in place and the stitches made over the squares of the canvas, following the design of the pattern. There are some coarse materials which can be followed without using canvas. The canvas is woven so loosely that after the cross-stitch design is finished, the threads are drawn out. How to make the stitch :
Baste the canvas carefully so that the warp of the canvas lies on the warp of the cloth. The canvas comes in several sizes, some finer than others, and this makes a difference in the size of the design when finished. The stitch consists of two slanting lines crossed. On the wrong side all the stitches may be either vertical or horizontal, but should be one or the other. Do you know the difference?
The canvas is so woven that one makes the cross over two threads high and two wide. Bring needle up to right side at lower left corner of the square that the stitch would form if inclosed (Fig. 87). Pass thread slanting across warp threads, and take stitch on line with warp, pointing needle towards the worker. When thread is drawn through, a slanting line of half the cross is made. This can be repeated across a whole row according to design, and the cross finished by returning from right to left with the same vertical stitches. It is necessary to have all the stitches of the design crossing one way: the ground stitches, or first half, one way; the other half, or upper stitches, all the other.
Fig. 87. - The cross-stitch.
What pretty gifts can be made from the cross-stitch? Towels hemstitched across the ends and marked with cross-stitch make attractive gifts for mother or grandmother. A pretty set for a baby is made by marking bath towel, face towel, and wash cloths with a pretty wreath design with baby's initial.
Bureau covers, table scarfs, pincushions can be made. Here is a picture (Fig. 88) of a simple hand towel with cross-stitch initials. The towel is made of huckaback, all linen. You remember it can be bought in all cotton, too, or a combination. Which is more expensive? The width varies. The picture shows a small guest towel 18 inches wide. It is easy to learn to hemstitch linen. Shall we try next lesson? The picture (Fig. 88) shows fancy hemstitching and drawn work. We shall learn the plain hemstitching.
Fig. 88. - A guest towel marked with cross-stitch.
i. If any one in your town has an old sampler, try to get it for a loan exhibit, while the girls are making their cross-stitching.
2. Make a design for cross-stitch work suitable for an end of a towel or for any article you wish.