This section is from the "The Ladies' Work-Table Book: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America" book, by Margaret Vincent. Also available from Amazon: The Ladies' Work Table: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America.
This includes quilts, blankets, sheets, pillow covers, towels, table covers, and pincushion covers.
These are of various sizes and qualities, in accordance with the purposes to which they are to be applied. They are generally made of the outside material and the lining, (wadding or flannel being laid between,) and stitched in diamonds or other devices. The stitches must pass through the whole, and the edges of the quilt are to be secured by a binding proper for the purpose. They are best done in a frame.
These are bought ready prepared for use. It is sometimes advisable to work over the edges at the end, which should be done with scarlet worsted in a very wide kind of button-hole stitch.
These are made of fine linen, coarse linen, and calico. Linen sheets are in general to be preferred. The seam up the middle must be sewed as neat as possible, and the ends may either be hemmed or seamed: the latter is the preferable method. Sheets, and all bed-room linen, should be marked and numbered. To add the date of the year is also an advantage.
These are made of fine or coarse linen, and sometimes of calico. The material should be of such a width as to correspond with the length of the pillow. One yard and three nails, doubled and seamed up, is the proper size. One end is seamed up, and the other hemmed with a broad hem, and furnished with strings or buttons, as is deemed most convenient. We think the preferable way of making pillow covers is to procure a material of a sufficient width when doubled, to admit the pillow. The selvages are then sewn together, and the ends seamed and hemmed, as before directed. Bolster covers are made in nearly the same manner, only a round patch is let into one end, and a tape slot is run into the other,
Towels are made of a diaper or huckaback, of a quality adapted to the uses to which they are applicable. They should be one yard long, and about ten or twelve nails wide. The best are bought single, and are fringed at the ends. Others are neatly hemmed, and sometimes have a tape loop attached to them, by which they can be suspended against a wall.
These may be made of any material that is proper for the purpose. Fine diaper generally, but sometimes dimity and muslin are employed, or the table is covered with a kind of Marseilles quilting which is prepared expressly for the purpose. Sometimes the covers are merely hemmed round, but they look much neater if fringed, or bordered with a moderately full frill. Sometimes a worked border is set on. All depends upon taste and fancy. A neat and genteel appearance in accordance with the furniture of the apartment, should be especially regarded.
A large pincushion, having two covers belonging to it, should belong to each toilet table. The covers are merely a bag into which the cushion is slipped. They may be either worked or plain, and should have small tassels at each corner, and a frill or fringe all round.
This department of plain needlework comprises table cloths, dinner napkins, and large and small tray napkins.
These may be purchased either singly or cut from the piece. In the latter case, the ends should be hemmed as neatly as possible.
These are of various materials; if cut from the piece, they must be hemmed at the ends the same as table cloths. Large and small tray napkins, and knife-box cloths, are made in the same manner. The hemming of all these should be extremely neat. It is a pretty and light employment for very young ladies ; and in this way habits of neatness and usefulness may be formed, which will be found very beneficial in after life.
In this department you will have to prepare pantry cloths, dresser cloths, plate basket cloths, china, glass, and lamp cloths, and aprons. Pantry knife-cloths should be of a strong and durable material. The dresser cloths, or covers, look neat and are useful. They are generally made of huckaback of moderate fineness ; but some ladies prefer making them of a coarser kind of damask. The plate basket cloth is a kind of bag, which is put into the plate basket to prevent the side from becoming greased or discolored. They are made of linen, which is well fitted to the sides, and a piece the size and shape of the bottom of the basket, is neatly seamed in. The sides are made to hang over the basket, and are drawn round the rim by a tape, run into a slit for that purpose. China cloths, and also glass cloths, are to be made of fine soft linen, or diaper; and the cloths used in cleaning lamps, etc., must be of flannel, linen, or silk. All these articles are to be made in the same manner, that is, hemmed neatly at the ends; or if there be no selvages, or but indifferent ones, all round. Noth ing looks more slovenly than ragged or unhemmed cloths, which are for domestic use. Little girls of the humbler classes might be employed by the more affluent, in making up those articles and a suitable remuneration be given them. They would thus become more sensible of the value of time, and would contract habits of industry, which would be of essential service to them in the more advanced stages of their progress through life. A fair price paid for work done, either by a child or an adult, is far preferable to what is called charity. It at once promotes industry, and encourages a spirit of honest independence, which is far removed from unbecoming pride, as it is from mean and sneaking servility. Benevolence is the peculiar glory of woman ; and we hope that all our fair readers will ever bear in mind, that real benevolence will seek to enable the objects of its regard to secure their due share of the comforts of life, by the honest employment of those gifts and talents, with which Providence may have endowed them.
The next subject to which the attention of the votress of plain needlework ought to be directed, is the preparation of housemaid and kitchen linen. On these subjects, a very few general observations will be all that is necessary. In the housemaid's department, paint cloths, old and soft, and chamber-bottle cloths, fine and soft, are to be provided. To these must be added, dusters, flannels for scouring, and chamber bucket cloths, which last should be of a kind and color different from any thing else. All these must be neatly hemmed and run, or seamed, if necessary. Nothing in a well directed family should bear the impress of neglect, or be suffered to assume an untidy appearance. Clothes bags of different sizes, should also be provided, of two yards in length, and either one breadth doubled, in
58 ladies' work-table bock.
which case only one seam will he required ; or of two breadths, which makes the bag more suitable for large articles of clothing. These bags are to seamed up neatly at the bottom, and to have strings which will draw, run in at the top. The best material is canvas, or good, strong unbleached linen. In the kitchen department, you will require both table and dresser cloths; which should be made as neat as possible. Long towels, of good linen, and of a sufficient length, should be made, to hang on rollers ; they are generally a full breadth, so that hemming the sides is unnecessary. They should be two yards long, when doubled, and the ends should be secured strongly and neatly together. If the selvage is bad, the best way is to hem it at once. Kitchen dusters, tea cloths, and knife cloths, may be made of any suitable material; but in all cases let the edges be turned down, and neatly sewed or overcast.
This should be made of coarse linen, neatly hemmed round, furnished with strings of strong tape, and marked.
This is made of a half square, doubled so as to still form a half square. The top must be hemmed, and be furnished with three loops, by which it is to be suspended from the frame when in use.
Some miscellaneous instructions, which could not otherwise be introduced, are to be found in the concluding chapter.