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This collection of the fine turn-of-the-century embroidery designs has been edited and published especially for the needleworker who is looking for something more artistically valid than what is customarily available. Originally intended to be used on table mats, dresser scarfs and "D'Oylies," these designs are eminently suitable as decorations on pillows, eyeglass cases, handbags, blue jeans and dozens of other objects in constant use today. However, many of the designs are so attractive and carefully worked out that they are very successful simply as pictures to be framed and hung.
As rich and varied as this archive is, happily you are not limited simply to choosing and executing a single design. In fact, one of the best features of the collection is that the designs complement each other beautifully, and thereby invite you to invent your own composition by combining elements from different plates. What a boon for you needleworkers who have always wanted to try your hand at an original design but have not quite been able to pull it off successfully! Try again, using a floral motif from here, leaves or stem from there, a butterfly or a bird from still another plate, and soon your own needle-painting will begin to form. Add your personal color scheme and appropriate stitches from your repertory, and you will have the satisfaction of creating a truly original design. After you have created several compositions from this material, you may find yourself in the enviable position of being able to design completely on your own, even though you may never have dreamed this possible!
The Table of Contents of this volume is organized according to motif, size and shape, and suggested uses. We emphasize "suggested" because we hope you will feel free to use your own imagination in order to get the designs to work for you.
This is primarily a sourcebook of designs and design ideas, and so we do not attempt to cover the fascinating intricacies of the craft itself, which are now well described in numerous publications. However, we do want to explain how to transfer designs to fabric as well as to illustrate several basic stitches and offer a few suggestions on how to make the best use of them.
After you have chosen the design and decided upon its purpose, select and prepare the background fabric. Choose a fabric that is compatible with the design and suitable for the intended use. Pictures that are to be framed and hung on a wall may never have to be washed or take hard wear, and so can be done on delicate fabrics; but drapes or pillows will get soiled and so require sturdier material. If you are not sure of the washability of a fabric, test a small piece before you spend valuable time embroidering it. Remember that a test by gentle handwashing in cold water with special soap does not necessarily mean that the finished piece can be tossed into the washer with the family wash! After determining suitability and/or washability, make sure the fabric is clean and pressed. Avoid using materials from which you are unable to remove creases; a crease which does not iron out before the embroidering will remain to infuriate you later.
Next, cut the fabric to size, being careful to allow for seams, hems or the fold-over necessary if you plan to mount the piece. Make sure the cuts are "on the straight" of the fabric by pulling out a guide thread in each direction and then cutting along these lines; do not depend upon a ruler line since the fabric may have been pulled out of shape. If a piece is still out of square after cutting, take the time to dampen and press it over again. You'll be glad you did! If the fabric ravels badly, it is wise to whip the edges by hand with an overcast stitch or run a large zigzag machine stitch along the edges.
Once you have chosen a design and fabric for a project, follow these simple steps to bring your work to a successful conclusion:
Step 1. Gather the materials needed for transferring and embroidering.
You will need:
Large piece of cardboard (oak tag or tablet back)
Tracing wheel, dull pencil or other stylus
Dressmaker's carbon paper (in a color that contrasts with the color of the fabric)
Flat smooth surface (such as a table)
Threads (yarns) for embroidery
Embroidery tools (frame, needles, thimble, scissors, etc.)
Step 2. Make a tracing by putting a sheet of tracing paper over the design and drawing over each line with a lead pencil. We do not advise tracing directly from the book onto the fabric because the page might tear and render the designs on the overleaf page unusable.
Step 3. Transfer the design. Place the cardboard on a flat surface; this not only protects the surface of the table from scarring under the pressure of the tracing wheel but also provides the firm padding under the fabric necessary to produce a smooth line. Carefully position your tracing on the fabric and pin it at the four corners. If the design is to be centered, use a ruler to determine the midpoint.
Before we proceed with the transfer process, let me say a word about carbon papers. Do not use typewriter carbon; it will smudge and rub off on the fabric and is almost impossible to remove. Dressmaker's carbon, available at notions, fabric and dime stores, comes in packs of assorted colors in strips about 7 x 20 inches. It has a hard waxy finish and is designed for our purpose.
Slip the carbon, color-side down, between the tracing and the fabric, temporarily removing one of the corner pins if necessary. Do not pin the carbon in place. With a hard, even pressure, trace a few lines with a tracing wheel or similar tool. Raise one corner of the tracing and the carbon to check the impression. If the results are too faint, apply more pressure; if too heavy, less pressure. Too heavy a line is difficult to hide with embroidery and too light a line is hard to see, but keep in mind that the transfer does have a tendency to fade a bit as it is handled and so should be a little on the heavy side. After adjusting the impression, trace the entire design and then remove the carbon and all but two pins. Carefully lift one side of the tracing paper and check to make sure the design is intact on the fabric before removing the pattern. Once removed it is almost impossible to register the pattern to the fabric again.
If later on, during the embroidery process, the line becomes too faint, touch it up with a waterproof felt-tip pen or a laundry marker. Test the pen! If it is not waterproof it will run and ruin your embroidery; just the moisture from a steam iron is enough to cause this. (A pencil can be used unless you are working with light-colored yarns which the lead could discolor.)
That's all there is to the basic method of transferring designs. You are now ready to embroider. Keep in mind that the success of your embroidery depends, like a good marriage, on the compatibility of its component parts—a happy wedding of design, fabric, thread and stitches, and most of all, your loving efforts.
Excerpted from Designs and Patterns for Embroiderers and Craftspeople by Marion Nichols. Copyright © 1974 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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