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Sep 6, 2016


This early manual is a fascinating read for any needlework enthusiast or historian. Extensively illustrated with drawings and diagrams it forms a complete how-to guide to needlework. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Sep 6, 2016

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Needlework - Rosemary Brinley



THE needlework described in this book is intended to fill the gap between my two previous books, Home Dressmaking and Embroidery and, like these other two books, it is written in very simple style so as to clearly explain the basic principles of the different branches of the craft, to those who have little or no knowledge of the work.

Needlework is a very pleasant occupation, which can also be made very profitable, and be the means of effecting a considerable saving in the cost of making a home. In addition to effecting a real saving in cost, there is always the pleasure which is to be derived from accomplishment, and the needlewoman is assured of spending many happy hours at this pleasant work in making a personal contribution to the beauty and comfort of the home.


Formation of the main stitches — many kinds of stitches — embroidery stitches. PLAIN SEWING STITCHES: Use and purpose. Tacking: Holding parts of the work together — purpose of tacking — suitable thread — tacking pile materials — basting. Catch Stitch: Use when hemming — formation. Herringbone Stitch: Use and formation. Hemming Stitch: For double thickness hems. Oversewing: Use in needlework. Button-hole Stitch: Main purpose — formation — two methods — blanket stitch. Whipping: For small neat turnings. Back Stitch: Plain or fancy — how to form back stitch. French Seams: For fraying edges. Plain Seams: Joining edges — binding.

DECORATIVE STITCHES: Description. Stem Stitch: Formation — broad or narrow — use in decorating — variations. Chain Stitch: Making the chain — variations. Satin Stitch: How it is worked — colour shading. Lazy Daisy Stitch: Use in decorating. French Knot: Outlining or backgrounds. Cross Stitch: Diagonals — simple stitch. Feather Stitch: How to work it — double feather stitch.

THE first essential of the needlewoman, is a good knowledge of the formation of the main stitches used in the work, and these are described and illustrated in this opening chapter. Only the main basic stitches are described, and it will be appreciated that there are many hundreds of others, some of which are used for special kinds of work—such as embroidery. A description of the embroidery stitches is included in the handbook, Embroidery, another in the Foyles Series. The stitches described in this chapter are those mostly used in all forms of needlework. Other stitches will be dealt with in the chapters in which their uses are described.


The plain sewing stitches include those suitable for joining seams together, for making hems, button-hole stitching and simple embroidery stitches, and include tacking, basting stitch, herringbone or catch stitch, oversewing, whipping, button-hole stitch, back stitch, French seam, plain seam and hemming stitch. Also included in this chapter are some of the decorative stitches which are used in many forms of needlework. These include stem stitch, chain stitch, satin stitch, lazy daisy stitch and French knot.

Tacking: This process consists of forming long even stitches, which serve to hold parts of the work together, while the final stitching is being done. The tacking stitches should be firm, neat, and large enough to enable them to be cut and withdrawn easily, when the main work is done. It is important that tacking should be well done, as the finish of the completed article and the appearance of the work, depends a great deal on the neatness and efficiency of the tacking.


For this part of the work, soft tacking cotton should always be used (ordinary sewing threads may leave marks on the needlework when the tacking threads are withdrawn), and the tacking cottons are less expensive than the ordinary sewing threads. When long seams are being tacked, long and short tacking stitches should be worked; this is illustrated in Fig. 1. The spaces between the stitches should be equal, and about a quarter of the length of the stitches.

When tacking material with a pile, such as velvet, or when extra firmness is required in the making, even tacking should be used. This also is illustrated in Fig. 1. When tacking pile materials, silk thread should be used instead of cotton. For some parts of the work, basting stitch should be used, the purpose being to keep two or more pieces of material firmly held together. The basting stitch also is illustrated in Fig. 1. It is used quite a lot in appliquéd work, where it is necessary to hold the cut pieces of the design firmly in position on the background material, and also in lining curtains. The basting stitch is used also in making articles such as curtains, bedspreads, etc.

Various methods and stitches are used when turning up hems, but the three stitches mainly used, are those illustrated in Fig. 1, which are catch stitch, herringbone stitch and hemming stitch.

Catch Stitch: This stitch is used where a single thickness of material is turned up to form a hem. Catch stitch should be worked from right to left as shown in the illustration, with the stitches formed in a slanting direction, over the edge of the turning.

Herringbone Stitch: This stitch is used for the same purpose as catch stitch described above, where a single thickness of material is turned up to form a hem. Herringbone stitch is worked in the opposite direction to catch stitch, from left to right over the edge of the turned up hem, as shown in the illustration. When sewing herringbone stitch, the distance between the stitches should be perfectly even.

Hemming Stitch: This stitch is used when the material turned up to form a hem, is double, as shown in the illustration Fig. 1. When forming hemming stitches, they must be kept very small and should be evenly spaced along the work.

The following stitches are illustrated in Fig. 2.

Oversewing: This is known also as top sewing, and is used for attaching lace and other trimmings to the main work. It is used also in needlework, for joining selvedge ends together, and for patching, also for attaching tapes and ribbons to articles. The oversewing is done from right to left as shown in the illustration, and the material should be held over the top of the first finger of the left hand, to make the work easy. When picking up a stitch, the needle should be held straight, and only a small amount of the material at the top edges picked up to form neat tiny stitches.


Button-hole Stitch: There are several variations of this stitch, which are illustrated in Fig. 2. The main purpose for button-hole stitch, is to make firm the edge of a button-hole. It is also used for edgings, and decorative varieties of the stitch are used in embroidery.

There are two main methods of working button-hole stitch. In the first method, the edge of the work is twisted, and this is known as tailors’ button-hole stitch. In the second method, the edge is kept straight, and the stitch formed is known as blanket stitch. The second method is a quick and simple way of working edges, and it is also decorative. Blanket stitch is worked from left to right, commencing by making a vertical stitch and bringing the needle up through the work again, in the same place as shown in the illustration Fig. 2.

When the first part of the stitch is formed, the thread should be held down with the thumb, and a second vertical stitch should be taken,

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