Truly, blouses are a delight to behold when they are soft and delicate in texture and fit the figure perfectly. They are so fragile that a dozen of them can be packed into a box of quite small dimensions - and yet what a ring of changes lies within one's power with such a treasure-trove.
With a plentiful assortment of these charming chiffons the feminine mind can meet most emergencies. One blouse a shimmering veil of silver net, another a mass of glittering beads, and a third which makes one think of the lines More marvellous than that faint film which hangs above the sea, so deliciously ethereal is this confection, composed of the silkiest ivory muslin on which sprays of pale golden mimosa are embroidered in satin-stitch.
The use of the paint-brush combined with the delicate art of the needle plays an important part in the adornment of these dainty blouses. They are always au fait for smart wear - consequently some considerations for embroidering and decorating them will prove useful. Collars and cuffs may be painted and embroidered in the same manner as the blouse. Delicate water-colour flowers are painted on to the fabric; their petals are afterwards embroidered in soft shades of silk. Such collars and cuffs turn the simplest blouse into a recherche adjunct to the toilette.
This idea of painted and embroidered collars and cuffs would also be a useful one for renovating a blouse which had seen better days. But the most effective method for decorating a blouse with brush and needle is to embroider the flowers directly on to the fabric. The blouse should be of simple design - simple ideas are often the most effective. The painting and embroidery are the sole trimming which the blouse should possess. It is delightful and interesting work, and work that always breathes of elegance and good taste.
The embroidery and the painting must tone exactly with the skirt with which the blouse is intended to be worn. This is an important detail, as it will make all the difference to the tout ensemble when the work is completed. How clever the French are with their careful attention to detail and colouring! The Frenchwoman never chooses the colour of her blouse without being quite conversant with the best shades to enhance her eyes, and the values of her complexion, or the tints of her burnished hair. Colouring is studied by the woman of fashion in France with the critical eye of an artist. It would not be out of place to take a leaf out of her book and to follow her example. When one decides to embroider and paint a filmy blouse for smart wear care should be taken that the water-colour tints and the mallard floss tone with the skirt with which the blouse will be worn.
Silk muslin or a mercerised muslin are ideal for the creation of these beauti-ful blouses. Preferably the blouse should be cut out before the embroidery is commenced. if the embroiderese does not wish to make the entire blouse, although their delightlul simplicity makes this a comparatively easy matter, she can take the muslin to her dressmaker, where the blouse may be cut to her measurements. When the embroidery is is completed it can be returned once again to the dressmaker to be made up. Two and a half yards of mercerised muslin will make one of these pretty blouses. when it has been cut to size and to the desired pattern, the front part of the blouse is secured neatly with small pins to a draw-ing-board. Flowers of a semi-conventional design may be sketched lightly on to the muslin in pencil. Tint the (lowers in pale blue, the leaves a pale soft green. When quite dry the blouse can be unpinned from the drawing-board. Cerulean blue mixed with Chinese white, with a touch of rose madder. makes a charming. pale tur-quoise colour. The paint should be ap-plied fairly thickly, care being taken that it is not too liquid, or it will sink through the muslin too much, and so lose some of its charm. The flow, should be outlined in the stem-stitch in pale blue mallard flos, or "back" stitch, which is a useful stitch for line Work. The needle is placed into the mus-lin at the point where the last stitch finished, then it is brought through a little beyond where it came out in making the previous stitch. The stems and leaves must be embroidered in shades of green. The centre of each leaf should have three tiny scintillating beads; they are threaded on to cotton and stitched firmly down. Heads certainly play an important part in the decora-tion of the smart blouse. A modish green wooden bead adds an effective touch to the delicate flowers Satin blouses or blouses of crepe de Chine may be embroidered and painted in the same manner, but there is some-thing particularly dainty about the painted and embroidered mercerised muslin blouse.
Mercerised muslin blouse, painted with a floral design in pale blue and soft green leaves. The design is then outlined in stem-stitch with an embroidery silk
This blouse should be mounted over a slip or lining of the same fabric. The neck of the blouse may be finished off with a single row of beads to match the beads in the centres of the flowers. The cuffs of the blouse are then also finished off in the same manner.
Black mercerised muslin or net blouses are effective embroidered in chenille. One beautiful blouse had a design of rose-coloured poppies embroidered on to a rather fine black net. The flowers were worked in the satin-stitch. It is possible to buy shaded chenille which gives a charming effect of light and shade. A conventional flower rather suggestive of the orchid works out in a very satisfactory manner, and either mallard floss or chenille may be used as the embroidery medium. The flowers are worked in shades of mauve in mallard floss, the leaves in green. White flowers such as marguerite daisies - look very well on a black background, the centres having a French knot in gold thread. Sweet-peas in their luxuriant pinks and purples make an exquisite design for a silky black muslin blouse. The leaves and stems look well worked in rather dark tones of green. A conventional floral design worked in soft shades of turquoise blue makes a very delightful embellishment when worked on fine black net. Small rings and scrolls earned out in geld are also effective methods embroidering these elegant trifles, which now play such an important part in a woman's toilette.
A note of warning may be given, perhaps. in this connection. It is most essential when wearing one of these beautiful but fragile blouses to enhance us charm by every ac-cessory worn with it.
If a light wrap is needed, either her as a finishing touch or for protection against chilly breezes, see that it harmonises with the blouse, not merely in colour, but also in material. A delicately-hued or painted chiffon, gauze, or crepe de Chine scarf will be found far more suitable than either feathers or furs, even of the lightest.
The industry of Buckingham lace-making has undergone such a revival among the cottage workers that the lace may be bought quite inexpensively, a dainty little edging being obtainable for about a shilling a yard, so that those who have not time to make their own lace can purchase it.
The next question, however, is how to make it up, many people seeming at a loss to know in what way to use real lace. The point is well worth considering as regards Buckinghamshire lace, as it is a particularly becoming variety. It is also youthful in effect.
A Peter Pan collar, made of Buckinghamshire lace insertion and edging. The lace should be arranged to show the design to the best advantage
The Peter Pan collar is contrived from a scrap of insertion about 14 inches in length. This is surrounded by an edging, of which three quarters of a yard or so will be required, according to the depth; but it should be put on with as little ful-ness as possible, in order to show off the design. If it can be obtained direct from the worker, a shaped piece is better than insertion for the collar part, as the inser-tion requires slightly gathering on the inner edge to m a k e it set properly.
The second collar looks charming and out of the common worn over a black satin frock. It is made from a piece of tucked muslin measuring 10 inches in length and 2§ inches in depth. These muslins can be bought by the yard, or the collar can be made by hand, with little insertions of narrow embroidery veining at intervals, and tucks in between. Lace an inch wide is used to go round the edge, of which 24 inches will be required.
Another very excellent way of using narrow Buckinghamshire lace is as a border for a handkerchief, for it washes well.
Then, again, either lace or insertion is charm ing as a trimming on a jabot. The lace should first be inserted or sewn on to the edge of some fine Breton net, as this washes better than Brussels. The net is then pleated up and lightly pressed.
For baby clothes, nothing is more delightful than Buckinghamshire lace, especially the " baby " edging, which has been much patronised by Royalty. Quite a small length will trim a bib; and for necks and sleeves of day gowns it is very dainty.
The lace handkerchiefs are sometimes used in a novel fashion - as linings to hats. The muslin or lawn centre is taken out, and the lace arranged on the velvet of the under brim with the points spread out.
A collar of tucked muslin trimmed with Buckinghamshire lace. Worn over black satin, such a collar is seen to good effect