The choice of fabrics which may be used in the fashioning of wastcoats for men's wear is little short of endless. Formerly, the only thing to be relied upon for this purpose was to work in tricot or "idiot" stitch (so called from its simplicity) in double Berlin wool, possibly decorated by small stitches or little stars of another tint in silk.
This species has much to recommend it even to-day, when many novel and strange notions jostle it for precedence.
Make a chain of 11 inches, then take up each stitch separately by drawing a loop of wool through the chain stitch, until the whole number are on the stem of the crochet hook ; then let them down again by taking two together until only one stitch remains. Continue this process until 23 inches are completed, and one side of the waistcoat is ready to be shaped by the tailor to the measurements of the wearer.
In a hunting country white woollen waistcoats are much worn, as also those of scarlet. One worked in alternate rows of wool and silk - that is, the loop row in silk and the drop row in wool - rises to an unusual height of elegance, the silk forming a cross-bar pattern on the wool; but it is troublesome to accomplish, as every row has to be finished off separately, it being impossible to "go back with the alternating thread. The sort of silk which is manufactured for making socks and ties is best for this combination.
A Waistcoat in Tricot Stitch
A very thick silk of a special make may also be used alone for the "idiot" stitch instead of wool, or a thick make of lustrine in a good quality, if economy is studied.
Two pieces of the finished work, 11 by 23 inches in size, are required for each waistcoat, the tailor doing all the cutting and shaping.
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Canvas, either single thread or penelope, embellished with simple designs in wool and silk, is always pleasing in its results, and much appreciated by the masculine mind. Dark blue single Berlin wool, herringboned on penelope canvas, and decorated at regular intervals with spots in red silk, gives a most satisfactory effect, and the same working may be adapted for any other shades, such as dark myrtle green with red spots, or dark green and gold, and so on indefinitely.
Designs for Canvas and Wool
Another very good design for canvas and wool is one carried out in three shades of golden brown. The darkest tint is the wool, of which blocks of six stitches alternate with blocks of four in dark filoselle, small blocks of a paler shade intervening at regular intervals. This design also may be carried out in an infinite variety of colouring, and is worked on single thread canvas .
Tricot or " idiot " ■stitch, showing the method of working in wool and silk
A shaded herringbone on penelope canvas is most simple to work, but rather elaborate in effect when done. The working is ordinary herringbone, as shown in the illustration, in which six shades are employed, but fewer may be used if desired.
Many other combinations (too numerous to deal with in a limited space) of colour and stitch could be suggested, and will in any case present themselves to the worker who once begins to dabble in the delights of waistcoat making.
A design for canvas carried out in three shades of golden brown
It is a most useful plan to have a sampler consisting of a strip of canvas on which to try the elusive stitch, which may otherwise escape one altogether.
Woollen waistcoats, whether of crochet or canvas, are for the most part for winter wear, but others of a lighter texture are greatly in request for other seasons. These may be fashioned of huckaback, white or coloured, and cunningly embroidered ; of coarse linen, with various designs encrusted upon the surface ; of silk huckaback in various delicate tints requiring little decoration; or of perforated cloth, embroidered in coarse silk or thin chenille.
In working with chenille, care must be taken to use the thread always the smooth way of the material; if taken through the cloth or canvas the other way the thread frays and breaks. The perforated cloth may be procured in various shades, and tints of chenille or silk to match, or harmoniously diverse, may be selected at will.
Most men like to be consulted about the colourings, and generally have very pronounced opinions on the subject. Fortunately, everyone may easily be satisfied as to design, material, and colouring, and no present is more acceptable to the average man than a waistcoat embroidered to suit his special requirements. Some, indeed, like Oliver Twist, have been known to ask for more.
For washing waistcoats, a rather coarse huckaback should be chosen, but of an even thread, as the whole pattern would be thrown out if the stitches were irregular.
The embroidering of huckaback consists simply in taking up the loose threads which occur at stated intervals on the surface of the fabric, and really charming and original combinations may be arranged by the most inexperienced worker. A quickly worked yet effective design is shown on the next page carried out in pale green and white, with dark green diamonds.
A sampler of darning stitching is most useful to help the memory, and is also interesting for reference. Stripes may be formed by three or more straight lines of darning, the spaces between being filled with diamonds worked in a contrasting shade, bearing a little dot in the centre; or the whole ground may be darned in shades of green and white, or blue and white, intersected by a large diamond of a darker shade. Red and blue cotton in the -Russian colours has a good effect if darned closely and relieved with lines of black or yellow down each centre.
Many other simple designs, such as zigzags and broken circles, readily occur to the worker when the more stereotyped schemes of colour and stitch are exhausted, and it is much more amusing to work out one's own ideas and to originate one's own schemes of colour than to follow more or less blindly those of others.
The suggestions so far have referred to white huckaback only. Colours may, however, be procured. in linen huckaback, but only in a somewhat coarse texture, which makes a rather large stitch.
A shaded herringbone design; six shades are here employed
A simple darning pattern for huckaback in green and white. The diamond is indicated by a dark green silk
Also a silk surfaced variety is sometimes seen, although the wearers of it appear to be in the minority. If well chosen tints are used, the effect is really rather attractive, and the amount of work required is of the smallest. Many pleasing shades are dyed in this fabric, which will probably increase in popularity as time goes on.
The heavier makes of material and those crocheted of wool do not find favour in warm climates. For those, the huckaback and embroideries on linen crash, or very thin silk, are more in request. The small sprigs which cover the surface of the waistcoat may be in any combination of tints which commends itself to the worker and wearer. For hot climates cool greens or white, with a touch of green or pale blue, are always found acceptable.
Silk wears well for embroidering on linen crash, but some wearers prefer linen thread or lustrine as more appropriate. Before starting on the embroidery part, it is necessary to mark the shape of the waistcoat on the material; this should be done by pinning on a paper pattern cut by a tailor, or copied from a waistcoat, and tracing accurately the outline in pencil, chalk, or thread.
For the crochet ones it is easier to make two oblong pieces for the two sides, and leave the tailor to do the shaping. It is possible, by a system of increasing and decreasing, to shape the pieces to the paper pattern, but it is a troublesome affair, and in the end the result is never satisfactory, so that the small quantity of material which has to be cut away is better sacrificed.
Some tailors mount these waistcoats with broad bands of cloth surrounding the work and on the pockets, others put simply a narrow binding to match or harmonise with the work, while others simply bind with a plain braid. In point of fact, much depends on the style of the embroidery, the washing materials requiring very little addition in the way of edging.
These details, also the best sort of buttons to be used, and whether these should have buttonholes cut in the material or in a separate fold placed underneath the front, must be determined by individual taste, as no hard and fast line can be laid down to decide these knotty points.
Once the worker has found how very simple a matter it is to make her part of the fancy waistcoat, she will, if she has any artistic sense and originality of ideas, experiment boldly for herself with the various materials so abundantly provided. The best effects, as a rule, are obtained by the employment of the simplest methods.
A waistcoat in simple double crochet, worked in a large size mercerised thread of a rich cream colour, won the whole-hearted approval of a really fastidious man. Firmly and evenly worked, carefully made up by a competent tailor, it looked particularly well, and was also warm and comfortable in wear.
Silk huck & buck worked in black and white slik with excellent effect