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In order to secure economy of time, labor, and expense, and also to do everything neatly and in order, the lady who is intending to engage in the domestic employment of preparing linen necessary for personal and family use, should be careful to have all her materials ready, and disposed in the most systematic manner possible, before commencing work. The materials employed in the construction of articles, which come under the denomination of plain needlework, are so various, that a mere list of them would occupy more than half our space; and they are so well known, that no necessity exists for naming them in detail. We shall therefore proceed, at once, to give plain directions, by which any lady may soon become expert in this necessary department of household uses, merely observing, that a neat work-box, well supplied with all the implements required—including knife, scissors (of at least three sizes,) needles and pins in sufficient variety, bodkins, thimbles, thread and cotton, bobbins, marking silks, black lead pencils, india rubber, &c., should be provided, and be furnished with a lock and key, to prevent the contents being thrown into confusion by children, servants, or unauthorized intruders.

The lady being thus provided, and having her materials, imple[38]ments, &c., placed in order upon her work-table, (to the edge of which it is an advantage to have a pincushion affixed, by means of a screw,) may commence her work, and proceed with pleasure to herself, and without annoyance to any visitor, who may favor her with a call. We would recommend, wherever practicable, that the work-table should be made of cedar, and that the windows of the working parlor should open into a garden, well supplied with odoriferous flowers and plants, the perfume of which will materially cheer the spirits of those especially whose circumstances compel them to devote the greatest portion of their time to sedentary occupations. If these advantages cannot be obtained, at least the room should be well ventilated, and furnished with a few cheerful plants, and a well filled scent-jar. The beneficent Creator intended all His children, in whatever station of life they might be placed, to share in the common bounties of His providence; and when she, who not for pleasure, but to obtain the means of subsistence, is compelled to seclude herself, for days or weeks together, from the cheering influence of exercise in the open air, it becomes both her duty, and that of those for whom she labors, to secure as much of these advantages, or of the best substitutes for them, as the circumstances of the case will admit.

We now proceed to lay down what we hope will be found clear though concise rules, for the preparation of various articles of dress and attire.

Aprons.—These are made of a variety of materials, and are applied to various uses. The aprons used for common purposes, are made of white, blue, brown, checked, and sometimes of black linen; nankeen, stuff, and print, are also employed. The width is generally one breadth of the material, and the length is regulated by the height of the wearer. Dress aprons are, of course, made of[39] finer materials—cambric, muslin, silk, satin, lace, clear and other kinds of muslin, &c., and are generally two breadths in width, one of which is cut in two, so as to throw a seam on each side, and leave an entire breadth for the middle. Aprons of all kinds are straight, and either plaited or gathered on to the band or stock at the top. Those with only one breadth, are hemmed at the bottom with a broad hem; those with two breadths, must be hemmed at the sides likewise. The band should be from half a nail to a nail broad; its length is to be determined by the waist of the wearer. It should be fastened at the back, with hooks and eyelet holes. To some aprons, pockets are attached, which are either sewed on in front, or at the back, and a slit made in the apron to correspond with them. The slit, or opening of the pocket is to be hemmed neatly, or braided, as may be most desirable. In some kinds of aprons, bibs are introduced, which are useful to cover the upper part of the dress. Their size must be determined by the taste of the person who is to wear them.

Dress Aprons.—Take two breadths of any material you choose, dividing one of them in the middle. Hem all round, with a broad hem, three-fourths of a nail deep. The band is to be one and a-half nails deep in the middle, into which a piece of whalebone is to be inserted, on each side of which work a row or two in chain stitch. The band is scolloped out from the centre on its lower side, five and a-half nails, leaving the extremities of the band one nail broad. To the scolloped portion, the apron is to be fulled on, so as to sit as neat as possible; leaving the space beneath the whalebone plain. Confine the folds, by working two rows of chain stitch, just below the curved lines of the band, leaving half an inch between each row. The lower edge of the band is ornamented with a small piping, but is left plain at the top.

[40]Vandyke Apron.—This may be made either of silk or muslin. The edge of the apron is to be turned down, once all round, on the right side, to the depth of three-quarters of a nail; and the vandykes are formed by running from the edge of the apron to near the rough edge of the material, which is afterward to be turned in. When the vandykes are completed, they are to be turned inside out, and made as smooth as possible. A braid, or a row of tent stitch, on the right side, over the stitches, is a pretty finish. In setting on the band, the plaits must be placed opposite each other, so as to meet in the middle. You may line the band with buckram, or stiff muslin, and ornament it with piping if you please.

Apron for a Young Person.—Clear muslin is the best material. Hem round with a hem, three-fourths of a nail deep; lay all round, within the hem, a shawl bordering, not quite so broad as the hem. Of course, the latter must be taken off before washing.

A Morning Apron.—This may be made like the last, but instead of the shawl bordering, surround the outer edge of the hem by a deep crimped frill, a nail in breadth. The material most in use, is jacconet or cambric muslin: the frill, of lawn or cambric, which you please.

Girl’s Apron.—Use any material that is deemed advisable. The bib is to be made to fit the wearer, in front, between the shoulders, and sloping to the waist. The apron is to be gathered, or plaited to the band; and the shoulder straps may be of the same material, or of ribbon. The bib, either plain or ornamented, with tucks or folds, as may be deemed most suitable.

Bathing Gown.—The materials employed are various, flannels, stuff, or calamanca, are the most preferable, giving free ingress to the water. The length must be determined by the height[41] of the wearer, and the width at the bottom should be about fifteen nails. It should be folded as you would a pinafore, and to be sloped three and three-quarters nails for the shoulder. The slits for the arm-holes must be three nails and three-quarters long, and the sleeves are to be set in plain: the length of the latter is not material. It is useful to have a slit of three inches, in front of each. The gown is to have a broad hem at the bottom, and to be gathered into a band at the top, which is to be drawn tight with strings; the sleeves are to be hemmed and sewn round the arm or wrist, in a similar manner.

Bustles.—These are worn, to make the waist of the gown sit neat upon the person. They are made the width of the material, and eight nails deep. The piece is to be so doubled as to make two flounces; one four nails and a half and the other three and a-half deep. A case, to admit of tapes, is to be made one nail from the top, and the bottom of each flounce is to have a thick cord hemmed into it. When worn, the article is turned inside out. The materials are strong jean, or calico.

Caps.—These are made of a great variety of patterns, and the materials are as various as the purposes to which the article is applied. Muslins of various kinds, lawn, net, lace, and calico, are all in request; and the borders are extremely various. Muslin, net, or lace, being those most in common use. The shapes are so multifarious, as to preclude us from giving any specific directions. Every lady must choose her own pattern, as best suits the purpose she has in view. The patterns should be cut in paper, and considerable care is requisite, in cutting out, not to waste the material. A little careful practice will soon make this department familiar to the expert votaress of the needle.

Child’s Collar.—This is made of double Irish linen, and is[42] stitched round and made to fall over the dress. Frills are generally attached to them, and give them a pretty finish. They are proper for children, of eight or nine years of age.

Cravats.—These are of fine muslin, and are made in the shape of a half handkerchief. They are hemmed with a narrow hem, and should be cut from muslin, eighteen nails square.

Cloaks.—These useful and necessary articles of dress are generally made up by a dress-maker; it is unnecessary therefore to give particular directions concerning them. The materials are silks and stuffs, of almost every variety, including satin, merino cloth, real and imitation shawling plaids, and Orleans. The latter is now very generally used. Travelling cloaks are made of a stronger material, and are trimmed in a much plainer style than those used in walking dresses. Satin cloaks look well with velvet collars, and are also frequently trimmed with the same material. Merino, and also silk cloaks, are often trimmed with fur, or velvet, and lined with the same. Sometimes they are made perfectly plain. The lining of a silk or satin cloak, should be of the same color, or else a well-chosen contrast; and care should be taken, that the color should be one that is not liable to fade, or to receive damage. An attention to these general remarks, will be found of much advantage to the lady who, in making her purchase is desirous of combining elegance of appearance with durability of wear, and economy of price.

Frills.—These are used as ornaments, or a finish to various articles of dress. The materials are cambric muslin, lace, net, &c., and the manner in which they are made is various. Sometimes they are set on quite plain, that is, hemmed round and plaited up into neat folds, to the width required. At other times, frills are fitted to a band, and the edge that is to be hemmed, is stiffened by[43] rolling it over a bobbin; it is put on as an ornament to a gown, and is tied with strings at the end. Crimped frills are worn by young children, and look extremely neat. They are made of lawn or cambric, and sewed on to a band. The other edge is hemmed, and the frill is double the size round the neck. The band should be half a nail in depth, and the frill is to be crimped as evenly as possible.

Gentlemen’s Belts.—These are worn by persons who have much and violent exercise, and are extremely useful. They are made of strong jean or other material, and sometimes of leather, and may either be made straight, or a little slant, or peaked. Runners of cotton are inserted, to make them more strong, and they must be furnished with long straps of webbing at the ends, sewed on with leather over them. The straps are about three inches in depth.

Gentlemen’s Collars.—These are very generally worn, and are shaped in a variety of ways. They are made double, and ornamented with a single or double row of back stitch. They are made to button round the neck, or are set on to a band for that purpose. It is best to cut the pattern in paper, and when a good fit is obtained, cut the cloth by the paper model.

Gentlemen’s Fronts.—The material is fine lawn or cambric. Sometimes the sides are composed of the former, and the middle of the latter. A false hem is made down the middle, furnished with buttons, as if to open; the neck is hollowed to the depth of a nail, and is plaited or gathered into a stock or band. In order that it may sit neat upon the bosom, two neck gussets are introduced.

Ladies’ Drawers.—Choose any proper material, and form the article by making two legs, set on to a band to fasten round the waist. Set on a plain or worked frill at the bottom. When set[44]ting the legs on to the band, place them so as to overlap each other. The band is eleven nails long, and three deep.

Ladies’ Flannel Waistcoat.—This is, in many cases, an indispensable article of female attire. For an ordinary size, you must take a piece of flannel twelve nails wide, and seven deep, folding it exactly in the middle. At two nails from the front, which is doubled, the arm holes must be cut, leaving two nails for half of the back. The front is to be slightly hollowed. At the bottom, cut a slit of three nails, immediately under the arm holes; insert a gore three nails broad, and the same in length, and terminating in a point. Bosom-gores are also to be introduced of a similar shape, and just half the size. They are to be put in just one nail from the shoulder-strap. In making the waistcoat, it is to be herring-boned all round, as are also all the gores and slits. A broad tape, one nail in width, is laid down each side of the front, in which the button holes are made, and buttons set on; the shoulder-straps are of tape, and the waistcoat fastens in front.

Ladies’ Night Jackets.—The materials are various, including lawn, linen, and calico. The jackets are made of two breadths, and as it is desirable not to have a seam in the shoulder, the two breadths should be cut in one length, and carefully doubled in the middle. The neck is to be slit open, leaving three nails on each side for the shoulders; and a slit is also to be made in front, so as to allow the garment to pass freely over the head of the wearer; the sides are then to be seamed up, leaving proper slits for the arm holes; and the neck and bosom are to be hemmed as neatly as possible. The sleeves are to be made the required length, and gathered into a band at the wrist, after being felled into the arm holes mentioned above. A neat frill round the neck, bosom, and wrists, finishes the whole.

[45]Night Gowns.—These must be made of a size suitable for the wearer. The following are directions for three different sizes. The length of the gown on the skirts is one yard and a half for the first size, one yard and six nails for the second, and one yard and three nails for the third; the width of the material is eighteen, sixteen, and fourteen nails, respectively; and the garment is to have one yard and a half breadth in width. They are to be crossed so as to be at the bottom twenty-one, eighteen, and sixteen, nails: and at the top, fifteen, fourteen, and twelve nails, as the sizes may require. The length of the sleeves is nine, eight, and seven nails, and the width half a breadth; they are to be furnished with gussets, three, two, and two nails square, and with wristbands of the proper width, and of any depth that is deemed desirable.

A binder of one nail and a half is put down the selvage of each sleeve, which strengthens it much. The gown is furnished with a collar about three nails deep, and of the length required by the wearer; and, in order that it may fit properly, neck gussets of two, one, and one nail square, are to be introduced. A slit of about six nails is made in front, which is hemmed round, and the space left for the shoulders is three, two and a-half and two nails, respectively. The whole is finished with a neat frill round the collar and wristbands. If economy is an object, cut three gowns together. This will prevent much waste of material; an object, by every head of a family, to be constantly kept in view.

Neck and Pocket Handkerchiefs.—These are made of a great variety of materials, as silk, muslin, cambric, lawn, and net. The neck handkerchiefs are generally a half square, and are hemmed all round. It is a good plan to turn up the extreme corners, as it makes it more strong and durable. A tape is set on, which comes ’round the waist, and ties in front. Sometimes a broad[46] muslin hem is put on the two straight sides, which looks extremely well. Some ladies work a border to their neck handkerchief, which gives to those made of net the appearance of lace. Pocket handkerchiefs are neatly hemmed, and sometimes have a worked border. Those used by gentlemen are of a larger size than those of ladies.

Petticoats (Flannel).—These are not only useful, but indispensable articles of dress. Fine flannel is the best, as it is most durable, and keeps its color best in washing. The length of the petticoat is regulated by the height of the person for whom it is intended; and the width ranges from three breadths to one and a-half. The bottom is hemmed with a broad hem; and the top is gathered, and set on to a strong band of calico, or jean, leaving the front nearly plain. Sometimes a button hole is made, about two nails from the ends of the band, to which strings of tape are attached; these are passed through the opposite holes, and the parts thus brought over each other form a kind of bustle, which makes the garment sit more neatly to the figure. A slit of about four nails is left on the back which is hemmed round, or bound with a strong binding.

Petticoats are worn under the dress for the sake of warmth, and also to make the gown hang more gracefully upon the person. They should have three or three and a-half breadths of the material in the width, and the bottom is made with a broad hem three nails deep, or with tucks or worked muslin. The latter is extremely neat. They are to be set on to a strong band, or stock, and are to have a slit left at the back about four nails in length. The skirt may be gathered full all round, or only at the back and front, leaving the sides plain; sometimes all the fulness is thrown to the back. Having shoulder-straps to keep up the petticoat, is[47] a great advantage; but they are unnecessary if a waist, or body with or without sleeves, be set on the band. In this case the body should be made to fit as tight to the person as possible. The band is generally about one nail in breadth. The materials proper for petticoats are dimity, calico, cambric, jacconet muslin, calamanca, stuff, &c. What are called middle, or under petticoats, are made in the same manner. Those ladies who pursue the laudable practice of nursing their own infants, and who wear petticoats with bodies to them, have them open in front.

Pinafore.—This is a useful article of dress, especially in large families. Holland is the best material. For an open one, one breadth is sufficient. Double the pinafore into four, and cut the arm holes to the required depth in the two side folds, so that half will form the front. The neck is to be hollowed out about a quarter of a nail in the middle, and the pinafore is to be set on to the neck band, which fastens by a button behind. Sleeve lappets are attached to the arm holes, being gathered near the edge, and set on before the arm hole is hemmed, so that when the edge is turned down no stitches will appear. The lappet is a second time to be gathered at the edge, and sewed down as fast as possible. Then hem the other edge, and conceal the stitches with silk braid that will wash. A small gusset put into the bottom of the slits is an advantage, as it makes it stronger. They are to be fastened round the waist with a band, or with a strap and buckle. The latter is most to be preferred. For a close pinafore, two breadths of Holland, or other material, will be required. It is seamed up at the sides, leaving slits for the arm holes, and has a collar and sleeves; as also a band to go round the middle of the wearer. Neck gussets may be introduced, but the much neater way is, to double the pinafore into four, and let in a piece at each shoulder, about a nail[48] wide, and two nails in length, gathering each quarter from the arm holes, into the pieces so let in, and felling similar pieces on the inside of the shoulder. The two middle quarters are to be gathered into half the collar, and the back in the same manner. The sleeves are made with gussets like a shirt, and are gathered into the arm holes. A slit is made at the hands, and the bottom is gathered into a wristband about an inch in breadth.

Pockets.—These are made of any kind of material you please. You take a piece of double, and cut it to the shape required. Stitch the two pieces neatly round, a little distance from the edge. Then turn it, and let the seam be well flattened, and back stitch with white silk a quarter of an inch from the edge; cut a slit down about four nails, which is to be either hemmed, or have a tape laid round it on the inside. Set on the strings, and the pocket is complete. Some ladies have pockets attached to the petticoat. In that case, it is only a square of calico, about ten nails long, and eight broad, set on to the inside of the petticoat, as plain as possible.

A Ribbon Scarf.—This is made of broad satin ribbon, and must not be less than two nails and a half wide: its length is two yards and three quarters. The ribbon is to be doubled on the wrong side, and run in a slanting direction so as to cause it to fall gracefully on the neck. The ends are to be embroidered and ornamented with braid, or left plain, as may suit the fancy. The scarf is to be surrounded by an edging of swan’s down. This is an elegant article of female attire.

Plain Scarf.—This is generally made of net, the whole breadth, and two yards and a half long. It is hemmed all round with a broad hem so as to admit a ribbon to be run in, which gives it a neat and finished appearance.

[49]An Indian Scarf.—This is an elegant article of dress and can be easily made. The material is a rich Cashmere, and three colors are required: that is, black, scarlet, and a mazarine blue. You must have the scarf four nails and a half in width, and one yard and six nails in length: this must be black. Then you must have of the other two colors, pieces seven nails long, and the same width as the black, and you are, after finding the exact middle of the black stripe, to slope off one nail and a half toward each side, and then slope one end of the blue and of the scarlet piece, so as to make them accord precisely with the ends of the black previously prepared. You are to cut one nail and a half from the middle to the ends. You are then to split the blue and the scarlet stripes down the middle, and join half of the one to the half of the other, as accurately, as possible. The pieces thus joined together are to be sewed to the black stripe, and the utmost care must be taken to make the points unite properly. You are to sew the pieces fast together, and herring-bone them all round on the right side. You finish by laying a neat silk gimp all round and over all the joinings. It should be of a clear, bright color. The ends are to be fringed with scarlet and blue, to correspond with the two half stripes. This is suitable for a walking dress, or an evening party.

A Dress Shawl.—Take a half square of one yard and twelve nails of satin velvet or plush, which you please, and line it with sarcenet either white, or colored; trim the two straight edges with a hem of either silk or satin, from one to one nail and a half in breadth, and cut crossway. Or you may trim it with fur, lace, or fringe.

Cashmere Shawl.—You will require for the centre a piece of colored Cashmere, one yard six nails square, which is to be hemmed round with a narrow hem. You must then take four stripes[50] all of Cashmere, or of a shawl bordering to harmonize or contrast well with the centre, which must be hemmed on both sides, and then sewed on, so as that the stitches may appear as little as possible. The border should be three nails broad, and of course joined point to point at the corners; and it must be so set on as that the two corners shall fall properly over each other. The shawl is finished by a fringe set on all round, and sometimes by a colored gimp laid on over the joinings.

A Lady’s Walking Shawl.—This may be made of cloth, merino, or silk; and either a whole, or half square, at pleasure. The dimensions are one yard and twelve nails, and the lining is of silk. In order that when the shawl is doubled the hems of both folds may appear at the same time, care must be taken, after laying on the border on two successive sides, to turn the shawl, and then lay on the remainder of the border. The trimmings for these kind of shawls are of great variety.

A Travelling Shawl.—This is easily made, and is very warm and convenient. Take a square of wadding, and double it cornerways; cover it with muslin, or silk, and trim it as you please.

Mourning Shawls.—These may be made either of half a square of black silk, entirely covered with crape, which is proper for deep mourning, or you may take half a square of rich and rather dull black silk, and border it with a hem of crape, two nails deep, laid on upon the two straight sides of the shawl.

Shifts.—These are generally made of fine Irish, or calico. They are made either with gores, or crossed. The latter is the neatest method. Two breadths are sufficient for a full sized shift, and gores are cut off a given width at the bottom, and extending to a point, in order to widen the garment. In crossing a shift, you first sew the long seams; then you double it in a slanting direction,[51] so as to mark off at the top and bottom ten nails at opposite corners; this done, you join the narrow ends together, and sew the cross seams, leaving a sufficient slit for the arm holes. There are various methods of cutting the back and bosom. Some cut out a scollop both before and behind; but in this case, the back is hollowed out one third less than the front. Some ladies hollow out the back, but form the bosom with a flap, which may be cut either straight, or in a slanting direction from the shoulders. Another method of forming the bosom is by cutting the shoulder-straps separate from the shift, and making the top quite straight; bosom gores are then let in, in front; the top is hemmed both before and behind, and a frill gives a neat finish to the whole. The sleeves may be either set in plain or full, as suits the taste of the wearer. Sometimes the sleeve and gusset are all in one piece; at other times they are separate. In all cases, great care should be taken in cutting out, not to waste the material. For this purpose it is always advisable to cut out several at one time. Shifts for young children of from five to ten years of age, are generally made with flaps both before and behind. This is decidedly the neatest shape for them. The bottom, in all cases, should be hemmed with a broad hem.

Shirts.—These are generally made of linen; but calico is also made use of. The degree of fineness must be determined by the occupation and station of the wearer. A long piece of linen will, if cut with care, make several shirts of an ordinary man’s size. In cutting, you must take a shirt of the required dimensions, as a pattern; and, by it, measure the length of several bodies, not cutting any but the last. Then cut off the other bodies; and from the remainder, cut off the sleeves, binders, gussets, &c., measuring by the pattern. Bosom-pieces, falls, collars, &c., must be fitted,[52] and cut by a paper or other pattern, which suits the person for whom the articles are intended.

In making up, the bodies should be doubled, so as to leave the front flap one nail shorter than that behind. Then, marking off the spaces for the length of the flaps and arm holes, sew up the seams. The bosom-slit is five nails, and three nails is the space left for the shoulders. The space for the neck will be nine nails. One breadth of the cloth makes the sleeves, and the length is from nine to ten nails. The collar, and the wristbands, are made to fit the neck and wrists, and the breadths are so various, that no general rule can be given. You make the binders, or linings, about twelve nails in length, and three in breadth; and the sleeve gussets are three; the neck gusset, two; the flap gussets, one; and the bosom gusset, half a nail square. The work, or stitches, introduced into the collar, wristbands, &c., are to be regulated according to the taste of the maker, or the wearer.

Gentlemen’s night shirts are made in a similar manner, only they are larger. The cloth recommended to be used, is that kind of linen which is called shirting-width. Where a smaller size is required, a long strip will cut off from the width, which will be found useful for binders, wristbands, &c.

Veils.—These are made of net, gauze, or lace, and are plain or worked, as suits the taste of the wearer. White veils are generally of lace: mourning ones are made of black crape. The jet-black is to be preferred, as it wears much better than the kind termed blue-black. Colored veils look well with a satin ribbon of the same color, about a nail deep, put on as a hem all round. For white ones, a ribbon of a light color is preferable, as it makes a slight contrast. A crape, or gauze veil, is hemmed round; that at the bottom being something broader than the rest. All veils[53] have strings run in at the top, and riding ones are frequently furnished with a ribbon at the bottom, which enables the wearer to obtain the advantage of a double one, by tying the second string round her bonnet, where she is desirous to screen her eyes from the sun and dust, and at the same time to enjoy the advantage of a cool and refreshing breeze. Demi-veils are short veils, fulled all round the bonnet, but most at the ears, which makes them fall more gracefully. It is advisable to take them up a little at the ears, so as not to leave them the full depth: without this precaution, they are liable to appear unsightly and slovenly.

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