Only one species of braid is required for the making of this most effective and useful decoration. This should be of white cotton, about one-third of an inch wide, and is provided with a thread so arranged that one edge may be drawn up into the curves necessary to form the petals of the various flowers and the lobes of the leaves, as well as the scroll-like forms which occur in these designs.
In addition to the braid which forms the basis of this work, linen thread for the bars and stitchery is required, and various-sized circles of buttonhole work, such as are used in lace-making. All these materials may be procured at any good needlework shop; the braid is sold on cards of a dozen yards, and the little buttonholed circles by the dozen.
These may, however, be made by the worker herself, by the simple method of winding round a pencil sufficient thread to form the required thickness of the circle; this is then closely buttonholed with an even stitch. The hand-made circles have a certain merit of their own, but are naturally never quite so even and regular as the machine-made variety.
For the thread two sizes are required - a finer one for the sewing down of the braid in the designs, and a coarse for the connecting bars. Nos. 16 and 30 lace thread on spools answer in a general way for these two purposes. It is, however, sometimes advisable to use a rather finer make if very delicate work is desired.
The idea of the worker is really to obtain a bold and somewhat coarse effect, and to attain this end the materials used should be chosen accordingly. The designs to be worked up may be drawn on a stiffish brown material, such as is used by tailors for interlining and stiffening.
No turnings can be allowed, as the seams must join exactly, every section being finished by a line of braid. This being the case, there should obviously be as few seams as possible, the sac-backed coat and kimono blouse being more suitable than those garments cut with back-seams and separate sleeves, although these can be quite satisfactorily constructed if a perfectly accurate pattern is available.
Having drawn as directed the outline of the garment to be worked, the design for the lace work may be arranged within these lines. The most workable plan for an amateur is to sketch roughly on paper the forms to be employed and the approximate positions these would occupy.
The designs of large flowers and leaves, alternating with trumpet-shaped forms, should be arranged as symmetrically as possible in order that one section should not be more heavily covered than another. Having arranged the design in this way nothing is easier than to copy the arrangement on the fabric whereon the outline is drawn. When all the principal forms are duly displayed, the connecting bars, of which there must be an ample supply, may next be added. These should be carried from the outlining braid to the solid forms in sufficient numbers to keep the whole quite steady when removed from the backing, and scroll forms may be introduced at intervals to balance the flower forms. The design being arranged to the satisfaction of the worker, the braid should be firmly tacked on the canvas, the thread before mentioned being tightened to give the necessary curves to the petals, each one of these being sewn firmly to the next one. The edges of the braid where they fold over should be neatly sewn, and every point or stem where the exigencies of the design make it necessary for the braid to cross must be firmly secured.
A good design for coarse braid lace work. This form of needlecraft is capable of most artistic interpretation, and requires but little expenditure of time or skill
The centres of the flowers should be whipped round to keep the form of the circle, a filling of double buttonhole, alternately arranged, completing the whole. Then a row of the little circles is set closely round, covering the edge of the petals.
The same plan is followed in working the leaves and kindred forms, the row of circles running up the leaf form may be graduated from small to large. The bars which connect the whole of the lace and keep it firm are made by taking two threads across at each junction and twisting with a third, small stitches being taken in the edge of the braid until the next bar is reached. For the centres of the forms other fillings, such as crossbars or cobwebs, may be put in if variety is desired, the chief point to bear in mind being that the whole fabric must be absolutely secured before the tacking threads are removed and the finished work taken off the canvas.
Always supposing these directions have been properly carried out, the blouse, panel, or article should come off as a perfectly finished and complete object which may be handled in making up with the utmost confidence, the edges of the outline being neatly sewn together, and the whole thing well pressed with a heavy iron.
Tunics also are easily arranged, and all work should, if dyeing is contemplated, receive extra care in the sewing down process, as any weak point is apt to give way in the dyer's hands, and this is quite a fatal fault.
Although chiefly used for dress purposes, this lace work may also be utilised for domestic decoration - cushions, trimmings for casement curtains, and toilet covers and mats for the toilet table being some of the objects to which it readily lends itself.
A crochet edge, small and closely worked, forms the most appropriate finish for this, or the scallop may be made in buttonhole-stitch after the Madeira fashion with very good results, and squares of lace interspersed with linen bands worked in broderie anglaise or any drawn thread work make a very excellent bedspread. In all cases the same sort of care in the finishing off is an absolute necessity.