Textiles and Clothing
by Kate Heintz Watson
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9. Name some other bast fibers and their products?

10. How do the textile fibers compare in the raw state in condition and price?

11. Give a brief description of silk from the egg to the woven cloth.

12. (a) What is the chief constituent of the vegetable fibers? (b) How does their affinity for dyestuffs compare with wool and silk? (c) How do the alkalies affect wool?

13. Describe the principal weaves and give examples of each.

14. (a) How are cotton and flax bleached? (b) What is a mordant? (c) How should material be prepared for dyeing? (d) State what you know about old time methods of dyeing.

15. How are print goods made? Name some printed fabrics.

16. Define woolens and worsteds.

17. Describe the finishing of woolen and worsted cloths.

18. What is noil; shoddy; felt; flocks?

19. With what dress goods have you had experience, and with what results?

20. What factors determine the use of fabrics?

21. Of what value is the study of textiles? What have you gained by the study of this lesson?

Note.—After completing the test sign your full name.




Good sewing, good pressing, well finished ends and corners, lightness of touch which holds the work without apparently touching it, thus giving to the finished garment a fresh look—all these are important considerations.

[Sidenote: Kinds of Sewing]

The sewing done on wool, silk, and dresses of all kinds differs from that on underwear and white work. Muslin underwear requires frequent washing and ironing, hence the first essential is durability; close, small stitches, all raw edges carefully turned and stitched securely. Seams that are to come close to the body should lie perfectly flat. A round seam would wear out sooner by coming into frequent contact with the washboard and iron, besides irritating the skin. In dressmaking, unless the stitching is used for ornamental purposes, it should never show on the outside.

Periods of beautiful and dignified costume have been periods of fine needlework—one art leading to and helping on the production of the other.

[Sidenote: Plain Stitches]

Stitches may be divided into plain and ornamental. The plain stitches are the (1) basting, (2) running, (3) the running and back stitch, (4) half back stitch, (5) back stitch, (6) overhand or whipping stitch, (7) overcast, (8) hemming, and (9) blind or slip stitch.

[Sidenote: Ornamental Stitches]

The ornamental stitches most frequently used are (1) outline, (2) chain, (3) cat or herringbone, (4) blanket or loop, (5) feather, coral or briar, (6) hemstitching, (7) French knots, (8) button hole, and (9) cross stitch. Excepting the cross stitch, these are all variations of the plain and button hole stitches.

The plain stitches may be used for ornamental purposes. The basting stitch is known as Queen Anne darned work. The back stitch, known as "seed work," is used in embroidering letters and monograms. The overhand stitch is used as an ornamental stitch for joining selvages and in hemming. The chain stitch, besides being ornamental, makes one of the best darning stitches, reproducing the stitch in knitting. The cat stitch is also useful in binding down open seams for flannel hems, patching, etc.

[Sidenote: Basting]

(1) Basting proper is used only in the preparation of work to hold the stuff and lining, or any two or more parts of the work together while it is being stitched, none being left in the finished garment. It is also used as a guide for sewing, feather stitching, etc.

[Sidenote: Tacking]

The slanting basting stitch or "tacking" is used in dressmaking for holding linings. The needle is pointed towards the worker. Even basting is used for holding several thicknesses of cloth and if the garment is to be fitted, the stitches should be placed rather close. Uneven basting is used for hems and seams to be machine stitched. Several short stitches with one long one are used to baste crape and wiry fabrics, for this method holds them better than stitches of equal length.

[Sidenote: Fastening the Thread]

All basting should be fastened at start with a knot or knot and back stitch and finished with two or three back stitches. The length of thread may be broken or cut from the spool, but should always be cut from the work. Breaking weakens the fastening and biting off soils delicate work with the moisture from the breath, to say nothing of the injury to the teeth. Basting for large work should usually be done with the goods lying flat on the sewing table.

[Sidenote: Drawing Basting Threads]

For ordinary work, basting threads should be cut every few inches and drawn out. In velvet, every alternate stitch should be cut and drawn out on the right side with the pile of the goods. In the basting for velvet where the slanting stitch is used, only one end of the stitch touches the line of the seam—the rest is on the outside of the seam. Silk thread should be used to baste velvet and gauze; the thread should be used for basting.

[Sidenote: Running Stitch]

(2) Running is closely related to basting. It is not used for any seams that have to bear great strain, but for joining seams in this material, gathering, tucking, making cords, etc. The stitches are usually of equal length on both sides. Take one stitch in the seam and hold the goods between the thumb and first finger of each hand, as shown in the illustration, with the back of the thimble on the eye of the needle. Then, with as free wrist motion as possible, run or shake the needle through the material. The motion of the hand should come from the elbow joint.

Gathering, gauging, casing, etc., are used for drawing up the fullness of skirts, ruffles, flounces, etc., into a given space. The running stitch is used for these.

[Sidenote: Gathering]

For gathering, the cloth is held in the same manner as for running. The needle, ordinarily, need not be taken out of the work, the stitches being pushed back over the eye as they are made; but for running long skirt seams in delicate material which would crinkle at the line of sewing and roughen the seam, the needle should be drawn through and the line of sewing smoothed on the thread at each needleful of stitches.

[Sidenote: Stroking]

Never use a double thread for gathering, as it is apt to knot, but put in two lines of gathering threads—one a full one-eighth of an inch below the other—and slip the stitches along the needle as described above. This method is a saving of time in the end. When the gathering threads are in, remove the needle, place a pin vertically close to the last stitch, and wind the thread around it a few times in the form of a figure eight. Use a coarse needle for stroking. Hold the work between the thumb and fingers of the left hand with the thumb on the gathering threads. To place the gathers, put the point of the needle under the lower gathering thread and press the plait or gather under the thumb, drawing the needle down, or simply pressing on the needle. Care must be taken not to scratch or tear the material. Continue entirely across the gathers, putting the needle under each stitch and holding the plait firmly between the thumb and finger: turn the material and stroke the upper edge of the gathers.

[Sidenote: Gauging]

The gauging stitch is usually longer on the face than on the back, draws the material up into distinct plaits, making it easy to dispose of the fullness neatly, regularly and securely by overhanding the top edge of each plait to the bottom edge of the band. The right side of the skirt and the right side of the belt are placed against each other and each gather oversewed to the belt. The space into which the material is to be gathered determines the length of the long stitch. The succeeding rows of stitches should be directly under those of the first.

[Sidenote: Running and Back Stitch]

(3) The running and back stitch is made by taking a few running stitches, drawing out the needle and making a back stitch over the last running stitch to strengthen the seam. Care must be taken not to hold the side next the worker too full and not to miss the under material, but to take the stitches even on both sides.

[Sidenote: Half Back Stitch]

(4) The half-back stitch is made by taking one stitch and placing the needle half way back, then bringing it out twice the length of the stitch and placing the needle half way back each time from where the last stitch ended. The appearance on the right side will be of regular space as in the running stitch.

[Sidenote: Back Stitch]

(5) The back stitch is made by placing the needle back to the last stitch, bringing it out once the length of the last stitch, then placing the needle back into the last stitch, and so on, making the stitches follow each other without any space between. This is used in all places that are to bear great strain.

[Sidenote: Whipping Stitch]

(6) Overhanding, oversewing, whipping, top sewing are one and the same—small stitches taken over edges, to join folded edges or selvages, for sewing bands on gathers, sewing lace and insertion, and for sewing carpet strips together. The pieces for an overhand seam should be pinned carefully, placing the pins at right angles to the edge. The folded edges or selvages are placed together, the right side of the goods being in. Do not use a knot to begin sewing, but leave the knot end of the thread and sew it in with the first stitches, carrying the thread on top of the seam. To finish off the seam, overhand back over the last few stitches.

[Sidenote: Position in Overhanding]

In sewing this seam, the goods should be held between the thumb and first finger of the left hand parallel with the chest, not over the end of finger. Point the needle towards the left shoulder, thus giving a slanting stitch. Care should be taken not to pucker or draw the seam. When the seam is finished, it should be opened and pressed flat.

[Sidenote: Overcasting]

(7) Overcasting is a slanting stitch used to keep raw edges from ravelling. This stitch, like oversewing, may be worked from right to left or from left to right.

The hem stitch and blind or slip stitch will be considered under hems.


Never use a knot in any embroidery, but start by running a few stitches along the line which is to be covered.

[Sidenote: Outline Stitch]

(1) The outline stitch is the simplest of all embroidery stitches. Take a long stitch on the surface, with the needle pointing towards the chest in the line to be covered, and a short back stitch on the under side of the material. The effect of the under or wrong side of the material is exactly that of an ordinary back stitch. The beauty of this stitch depends upon its regularity and in always keeping the thread on the same side of the needle.

[Sidenote: Chain Stitch]

(2) The chain stitch when perfectly done should look like the stitch made by a single-thread machine. This stitch is made by taking the thread toward the worker, and before the needle is drawn out of the cloth the thread is held by the thumb under the point of the needle, as in a buttonhole, making a loop. The needle is inserted in the last loop for the next stitch. The chain stitch is used in modern embroidery as an outline and for darning, but in old embroidery, the outline and chain stitches were used for filling as well. They are found in Persian, Indian, and Italian Renaissance work. Like the feather stitch, the chain stitch is worked towards the worker.

[Sidenote: Cat Stitch]

(3) The cat stitch or herringbone stitch is an alternate slanting back stitch, the needle being placed first to the right and then to the left. This stitch must be worked evenly to be effective. It is used to finish flannel seams and hems, fasten down linings, opened seams, and canvas facings and featherbone, in millinery—in fact, this stitch is one of the most useful in sewing. The catch stitch is a variation of the cat stitch. Instead of pointing the needle towards the chest, the stitch is taken parallel with the chest. It is used for about the same purposes as the cat stitch. As with the outline stitch, the cat stitch is worked from the worker.

[Sidenote: Loop Stitch]

(4) Blanket or loop stitch, used to ornament the edge of blankets, etc., and for finishing the edge of stockinet or web material, is worked from left to right, the edge of the material being held towards the worker. Start with three or four running stitches along the edge so the line of stitching will cover them. Insert the needle the desired width from the edge, draw it towards you down over the thread, being careful not to draw the thread too tightly over the edge of the flannel. Fasten the thread by taking running stitches under the last blanket stitch on the wrong side.

[Sidenote: Feather Stitch]

(5) Single, double, and triple feather or coral stitches may be made very ornamental and are used in all kinds of sewing and on all materials. They are always made towards the worker, the stitches being taken alternately to the right and left of the line of the design. The thread should always be carried under the needle as in a buttonhole stitch. The design may be varied by taking the stitches diagonally or straight, by making them close or separated, etc.

[Sidenote: Hem Stitch]

(6) Hemstitching is used for ornament in making hems and tucks. The first step in hemstitching is the drawing of threads. Rubbing the cloth along the line of threads to be drawn will make the drawing easier if the cloth is sized. After the threads are drawn, the hem is turned and basted even with the lowest edge of the drawn space. Insert the needle into the edge of the hem and material, taking up a cluster of threads bring the thread under the needle to form a buttonhole stitch or make a simple stitch in the edge of the fold. The number of threads drawn and the number in a cluster must be determined by the coarseness or fineness of the material, the greater number being drawn and taken in fine material. There are several methods of hemstitching, but the results are about the same.

[Sidenote: French Knots]

(7) French knots are used in connection with other stitches for borders enclosed in outline and chain stitches, in initials, centers of flowers, and as a filling-in stitch. The simplest method is of taking a small back stitch, bringing the thread from the eye of the needle under the point from right to left and drawing the needle perpendicularly from the cloth. Place the needle back of the knot and bring the point out in the place where the next knot is to be made. The size of the thread will determine the size of the knot.

[Sidenote: Embroidery Buttonhole]

(8) The embroidery buttonhole stitch has many possibilities and many variations. It is worked from left to right instead of from right to left as in a buttonhole. The thread from the work is carried under the point of the needle from left to right, just the reverse of the buttonhole. This stitch is used on flannel and in embroidery of all kinds; it may be padded or worked flat and the stitches may be taken a distance apart or near together.

[Sidenote: Cross Stitch]

(9) The cross stitch is worked on linen, scrim, canvas, or any open-meshed material. If done on a flat, smooth surface, it will be necessary to work over canvas, afterwards drawing out the canvas threads. The canvas should be well basted on the material, the warp threads of the canvas lying perfectly straight on a line with the warp threads of the material on which the pattern is worked. The stitches should always run the same way. If the first ground stitches are made from left to right, from bottom towards the top, the cross stitches should be made from right to left from the top towards the bottom. All the ground stitches run one way and the cross stitches in the opposite way.

This stitch is used for marking table linen, underwear, and embroidery designs. When marking linen and unlined work, make the under side very neat by running the thread under the stitches already made, instead of taking a long stitch when beginning in another part of the letter or design.

[Sidenote: Satin Stitch]

(10) The satin stitch is an over and over stitch and is used on materials of all kinds for marking linen, etc.

The padding is the first step and should be done in long even stitches placed closely and over one another in the center. The size and proportions of the figure or letters determine the size of the thread. Fine thread gives the best results. The outline should be run twice; this keeps the edge firm. An even darning or basting stitches, chain stitches or outline stitch may be used if the space is not too small. The padding may be worked in an embroidery hoop to keep it smooth and even. Scallops may be padded in the same way or worked flat.

In large figures the stitches are laid closely and exactly parallel the entire length of the form. They may be straight across or at an angle, but the one slant must be maintained throughout. In small curved figures, the stitches may be placed more closely at the inner edge and spread slightly at the outer edge. In flat work where the leaf or petal is large, two or three stitches taken in the cloth, back of the face stitch, holds them even and prevents misplacement in laundering. (All embroidery should be ironed on the wrong side.)

[Sidenote: Eyelet Embroidery]

Eyelet embroidery is a simple over and over stitch forming a smooth, round edge. Like satin stitch, all outlines are run with an even darning stitch, except the very small eyelet holes, made with a stiletto. Long or oval openings must be cut through the center.

[Sidenote: Shadow Embroidery]

Shadow embroidery is worked on the wrong side of thin material, using the cat stitch. The outline of the design only shows on the right side, the body of the design being seen dimly through the material.

[Sidenote: Arrow Heads]

The arrow head and crow's foot are ornamental fastenings used in fine tailoring as endings for seams, tucks, plaits, and at corners. They are made as shown in the illustration.

Mercerized cotton, linen, or any of the embroidery silks can be used for these stitches, in all sizes and colors, or they can be worked with ordinary thread, cotton or linen, sewing silk, or twist. Cotton thread wears better than linen.


[Sidenote: Folding Hems]

A hem is a fold of goods twice folded to protect a raw edge. The first turn or fold of the hem is the most important. It should be straight and even, folded to a thread, for upon it depends the beauty of the hem. The hem should always be turned towards the worker and creased firmly, but never pleated along the fold. First crease the narrow fold, then crease the second fold the desired width, marking by a measure and baste not too near the edge. The first fold along the woof threads should be at least one-fourth of an inch in width, as the woof threads give or stretch more than the warp threads; otherwise it will not lie flat.

[Sidenote: Sewing Hems]

In sewing the hem, the needle should take up only the edge to be hemmed down and just enough to hold on the cloth or lining. In white work the stitches should be fine, showing as little as possible.

[Sidenote: Bias Hem]

All bias and curved edges should have the first fold basted. In cloth or silk this first basting thread should match the material and not be taken out.

[Sidenote: Faced hem]

A facing or faced hem is also used as a protection to the edge of a garment. A true bias or fitted facing should be used for a facing if the edges of the garment are curved. An extension hem is one in which the whole width of the hem is used.

[Sidenote: Slip-Stitching]

Slip-stitching or invisible hemming is done on silk, wool, and thick material. The hem is pressed with an iron, a stitch as fine as possible is taken on the surface of the cloth and the needle slipped under and through the first fold, drawing the thread lightly. The needle and thread used in this stitch must be very fine.

[Sidenote: Rolled Hem]

Rolled hem and whipped gathers are made with the wrong side of the material next the worker. Make a tiny roll of the edge towards the worker, using the left thumb and index finger, rolling an inch at a time (and no more) before hemming. Make fine, even stitches in the roll and goods. Keep the hem perfectly round, firm and not too large. This hem is adapted only to fine material and the edge across the warp is the more easily rolled.

[Sidenote: Whipped Gathers]

To gather, whip the rolled hem without hemming, making overcasting stitches towards you, even and not too fine. Use coarser thread than for hemming. This gathering thread is used to hold down the edge as well as for drawing up the gathers and it not to be taken out, as is the ordinary gathering thread. It should not catch in the roll. Have the thread the length of the plain space to which it is to be sewed and regulate the gathers as you do the gathering. After the edge is rolled, whipped and gathered, it is sewed to the garment by the little scallops or raised parts made by the whipping. This is used only for making ruffles or gathering on very fine hand work.

[Sidenote: French Hem]

The French hem is used for table linen. Fold as in an ordinary hem, then fold the hem back on the right side and overhand the edge formed, taking fine stitches. Press the hem flat from the right side.

[Sidenote: Flannel Hems]

Flannel hems should not be twice folded, for there will be a ridge instead of a flat surface after the garment has been laundered, owing to the felting properties of the wool. Hems on flannel should not be stitched by hand or machine, but cat stitched on the wrong side and finished on the right side with any ornamental stitch.

Hems in infants' clothing may be turned on the right side and made ornamental by feather stitching.

No selvage should ever be used on a hem. The selvage is more closely woven and will draw or pucker in laundrying.


Tucks are folds made on thin material for ornament, to shorten or to provide for lengthening a garment. If done by hand, a card measure is preferable to a tape measure for marking the space and width of the tucks. The folds should be creased to a thread, basted and sewed with a running stitch showing but little on the face, or stitched on the machine. Fine thread should be used.


A seam is the line of sewing that joins material; it may be plain or ornamental. The most important are the overhand, felled, French, slot, lapped, flannel, and beaded.

The overhand seam is described under the overhand stitch.

[Sidenote: Felled Seam]

A fell is a seam hemmed down to the goods to protect the raw edge. It is usually made in night dresses, drawers, corset covers, etc. Baste with the piece farthest from the worker extended one-eighth of an inch beyond the other and sewed with the grain of the goods, beginning at the widest part of any bias. Press the seam with the nail on the right side, turn the wide edge down flat to cover the raw edge and line of sewing, and hem flat either by hand or machine. Care should be taken to keep the seam flat on the right as well as on the wrong side. If the felling is done with the machine hemmer, the wide edge must be on the opposite side. The seam may be basted with both edges even if preferred, cutting off one edge after stitching.

[Sidenote: French Seam]

A French seam is sewed twice—first on the right side as near the raw edge as possible. Cut off all frayed edges, turn the material by folding on the seam or line of sewing, so the seam is folded inside and the second sewing is on the wrong side below the raw edges. This is not a good seam for underwear worn next the body, as it leaves a ridge on the wrong side, but it is useful for skirts of thin material, etc. It is more easily made than a fell.

[Sidenote: Beaded Seam]

Beaded seams used for fine white work have a line of beading overhanded between gores, hems, or gathers. The hem along the seam should be folded on the right side, leaving a perfectly flat surface to iron on the wrong side, and finished with an ornamental stitch covering the hem.

[Sidenote: Slot Seams]

The slot seam, used in cloth dresses and jackets, requires exact basting with silk or very fine thread with small, even stitches. If a coarse thread is used, the material will be badly marked. After basting, press the seam open as if it had been stitched, and baste the strap or under strip of the dress material (which has been cut perfectly straight and even) over the wrong side of the seam, having the center of the seam on the center of the strap. Stitch any width desired beyond the center through the three thicknesses. This will hold the seam in position. Now remove the bastings from the seam and the slot effect is complete. If desired, there may be a double row of stitching, an extra row on the edge of the fold or plait. These seams may be finished at the bottom with arrow heads or stitched designs. The lines of machine stitching should not end without some ornament to appear to hold the plait.

[Sidenote: Lapped Seam]

In the lapped seam the edges are folded each within the other or one over the other so that both sides are alike. If made of heavy material, the raw edges are left unturned; in muslin or linen the edges are inturned, lapped, basted and the hem stitched on both edges or hemmed down on both sides by hand.

[Sidenote: Flannel Seams]

Flannel seams should be stitched, opened and pressed flat, either on the right or wrong side of the garment. If on the right side, taffeta ribbon should be basted over the seam, so that the raw edges of flannel will not show, and cat stitched or buttonhole stitched on both sides of the ribbon, or any fancy stitch—not too long—may be used. This is the Dorothy seam. For the seam on the wrong side, the edges should be cat stitched with fine thread. Any ornamental stitch may be used on the right side of the seam. Always press flannel seams and hems before finishing. Flannel should never be hem stitched.


A placket is an opening in a garment allowing it to be put on. The simplest placket is made by cutting a slit and folding a wide hem over a narrow one turned on the face of the goods; this makes a pleat below the vent. There should be a double line of stitching across the bottom of the hem to strengthen the placket.

[Sidenote: Tape Faced Placket]

The tape faced placket is stronger and may be used in children's drawers, etc., in place of a gusset to strengthen the end of the opening. A single piece of tape folded back as for a loop is stitched along all edges, making an opening without a lap. This offers as much resistance as a gusset and is more quickly done.

[Sidenote: Faced Placket]

In a third kind of placket, the opening is faced with a continuous piece of tape on both sides and finished with a piece of material on the outside. See illustration. This makes a strong and simple placket. When a tape cannot be used, a hem or facing may be made on the under side of the opening and a facing on the upper side, over which the on-set piece is stitched. The on-set piece and facing may be cut from one piece, but the fitting is more troublesome. In figured goods, the piece set on should match the pattern exactly.

A simple placket for underwear is made from a single strip of the goods put on like an extension hem. On drawers it may be turned in at the buttonhole end, but not stitched down except at the band.

The placket of a skirt should have an underlap extending well below the opening.


[Sidenote: Gathering]

Divide the top of unhemmed edge of the garment in halves and mark with a cross stitch, notch or pin. Gather from the placket to the middle of the front gore, if a skirt, apron, or dress. Take a new thread and gather the remainder. Put in a second gathering thread one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch below the first. Two gathering threads are better than one and they should be longer than the length of space to be gathered. Stroke or lay the gathers above and below the threads. Divide the band and pin the middle to the center of the garment, placing the right side of the band on the wrong side of the garment. Pin in the middle and at each end, secure the gathering threads by winding around the pin, adjust the gathers, and baste between the gathering threads. Stitch just below the line of basting. Fold the band over on the right side, press, baste over the line of stitching, press again, then stitch on the right side after having turned in both ends and over-sewed. Turn the top of the band over on the right side one-eighth or one-fourth of an inch and stitch securely. This upper fold keeps the edge from wearing and stretching and is a stay for children's skirts and drawers where button holes are used and serves as a finish for the top of the band.

For flannel, pleating or gathers may be used to put fullness into a band. Two rows of gathering threads should be used and the stitches should not be too fine. The band should be made of cotton or at least lined with it to avoid clumsiness and prevent shrinking. Ruffles are set in hems, etc., in the same manner.

[Sidenote: Drawing Tapes]

In finishing the top of an underskirt, many like to dispense with the placket and fitted band. This may be done by using drawing tapes at the back. The upper edge is faced with a piece of material which should be bias in front to accommodate it to the curve, but may be straight across the back. Work a button hole at each side of the back, insert a tape through one button hole and draw it over an inch beyond the opposite one and fasten securely by two lines of stitching across the tape. A second tape is put through the other button hole and fastened in the same way. By pulling the tape on each side the fullness may be adjusted.

[Sidenote: Bias Facings]

All facings around curves, such as arm holes and neck, should be a true bias which is cut by holding the warp threads diagonally across the woof threads. These strips for facings, pipings, ruffles, etc., should be cut exactly even in width. All bands, ruffles, etc., of serge, twilled, or diagonal materials should be cut across the twill and not with it, in order to have the ruffle hang well.


The standard fastenings are buttons and button holes, hooks and eyes or hand made loops, lacings through rings and eyelet holes, loops over buttons, and fancy frogs, clasps, studs, ball and socket, "notta-hooks," etc.

[Sidenote: Making Button Holes]

Button holes should be carefully measured and marked before cutting. They should be a little longer than the diameter of the button for flat buttons and one and one-quarter the diameter for round buttons. Having decided upon the distance apart they are to be placed, cut a marker from a piece of cardboard and measure off the space, marking with pins, French chalk, pencil, or thread. The distance from the edge (one-fourth inch), as well as the length of the button hole may also be marked with the card. The scissors should be sharp, the hand must be steady, and the cut should be made with one firm slash, not with two or three jerks. Great care must be taken that each button hole is of the same length. The goods should be cut to a thread, for it is impossible to make a neat buttonhole if it is improperly cut. In cutting a round end buttonhole for thick goods, a punch may be used for the end, after which the remainder of the buttonhole is cut directly on a line with the center of the circle.

The same marker may be used to mark the position for the buttons. All markings for buttons and buttonholes, or for hooks and eyes, should be made at one time.

[Sidenote: Overcasting Buttonholes]

After cutting, the button holes are overcast. This should always be done directly after cutting, especially if the goods ravels easily, otherwise it will be impossible to work a neat buttonhole. Overcasting should be done with very fine thread (No. 150 for white goods), split silk for wool and silk. Three overcast stitches on each side are sufficient for an ordinary size buttonhole.

A very good plan to follow in cutting a buttonhole in heavy material or material that frays easily is to chalk the position and length of the buttonhole, then stitch a row of machine stitching each side of this mark, the two rows being a little more than one-eighth of an inch apart. This holds all the thicknesses together and the buttonhole may then be cut easily. It also serves as a guide in working the buttonhole stitches.

The buttonholing is begun at the inner side of the slit. Always place the knot on the outside of the garment a short distance to the right of the buttonhole, leaving a long stitch underneath which can be cut off when the buttonhole is finished. A buttonhole should be completed with one thread if possible as it is difficult to mend the thread securely and neatly. Letter D for twist is usually employed.

[Sidenote: Making Buttonholes]

Insert the needle in the edge of the material and when half way through, take the two threads at the eye of the needle, bringing them towards you at the right and under the point of the needle, and draw the thread from you, making the purl or loop stitch directly on the edge of the buttonhole. The stitches should be about the width of the needle apart to allow for the purl. Be careful to complete each stitch with a uniform movement so that the line will be perfectly straight and not wavy. The stitches are placed more closely together in the rounded end of the buttonhole where the chief wear comes.

[Sidenote: Staying]

Many workers, particularly tailors, always "stay" or "bar" around a buttonhole before working. This may be done with several threads of twist or with a cord so that the worked edge of the buttonhole will be firm and distinct. Tailors usually use a cord as this makes the edges heavier. It is always well to stay buttonholes in heavy material as it strengthens them very much and improves their appearance.

[Sidenote: Bar Tack]

When the buttonhole has been worked all around, the end is completed with a bar tack made by taking two or three stitches across the end of the buttonhole, drawing the edges closer together. This bar is covered with buttonhole stitches worked close together. The thread is fastened securely on the wrong side.

[Sidenote: Large Buttonholes]

After very large buttonholes are finished, their straight edges should be closely basted together by an over and over stitch and then pressed under a damp cloth. Before they are dry, a bodkin or stiletto should be pushed vigorously up through each eyelet until that opening becomes perfectly round and the stitches on its edges are regular and distinct. When the basting is removed, the buttonhole will be symmetrical in appearance.

Buttonholes which are to bear a strain are cut in the direction of the pull, but sometimes they are cut in the opposite direction, as for a shirt waist. Such a buttonhole may be completed with a bar tack on each end.

[Sidenote: Sewing on Buttons]

Ordinary buttons should never be sewed down tightly, but the thread should be loose so that it may be wound around at the end, thus protecting the holding threads from wear. The shank prevents the buttonhole from being crowded out of shape. Loose sewing can most easily be done by placing a pin or needle across the top of the button and sewing over it. If a button is much concaved, the pin may be placed underneath. The pin is removed before winding.

In sewing on a four-hole button, the stitches should be made symmetrically, either parallel or crossed, but not both. If parallel or in a two-holed button the stitches should run in the line of the buttonhole. The thread should always be fastened at the beginning and at the end of the work. Place the knot upon the outside of the garment where it may be cut off when the button is sewed securely. The knot is sometimes placed under the button.

[Sidenote: Cloak Buttons]

In sewing buttons on a cloak or coat an extra strip of canvas or silesia over the canvas interlining should be placed the entire length of the buttoning for strength. This should be applied before the work on the garment is too far advanced and if cut sufficiently wide, will allow any slight alteration. The sewing should go through the canvas facing and stay, but not through the under side or facing of the material.

In sewing buttons on bodices a tape should be sewed over the front basting for a stay. If sufficient material has not been allowed for a lap, this should be added, as a lap is necessary under the opening of such buttonholes.

Buttons may be sewed through lining having a small button on the wrong side. This method prevents the cloth from tearing and makes an ornamental finish as well as a substantial one.

Buttons which are supplied with wire shanks should be sewed down firmly as the shank already provided permits the buttons to set up well from the material. They should be placed in such a position that the wire shank will run parallel with the buttonhole and not cross it.

[Sidenote: Hooks and Eyes]

The position for hooks and eyes should be marked before sewing on. The simplest, though least desirable, method of sewing-on these fastenings is to place the eye at the edge of the seam or facing and the hook sufficiently far back from the opposite side to give a lap. A much preferable method is to baste a bias strip of crinoline along the positions to be occupied by the hooks and eyes; this gives strength to the finish. Sufficient material should be allowed for folding over the shanks after the hooks and eyes have been sewed on, or they may be covered with silk ribbon, slipping the edge under the beak of each hook and then catstitched in position.

The hooks and eyes are sewed securely through the crinoline and one thickness, but the stitches should not show on the outside. Over and over stitches are taken through the small rings in the line of the full and again on each bar of the eye and on the shank of the hook so that they may be held in position securely. In many cases, it is advisable to have an underlap of the material. This should be slip-stitched in position on the garment after the eyes have been sewed in place.

[Sidenote: Eyelets]

Eyelet holes are made with a stiletto which forces the threads aside, but does not cut them. The edge is finished with over and over stitches placed closely together, or with a buttonhole stitch making the purl on the outer edge of the stitches. Loops are made by buttonholing very closely over several foundation threads, making the purl on the outside edge. The needle may be run under the loop eye first if preferred.


[Sidenote: Underset Patch]

With the underset patch have the part to be patched pressed smooth, baste the patch on the wrong side of the garment before cutting out the worn place. (If the garment or article to be mended is worn or faded and shrunken by laundering, boil the piece in soap, soda and water to fade the patch, if of cotton or linen.) After basting, cut away all the worn cloth, making a square or oblong hole. Cut to a thread. Cut each corner, diagonally, one-eighth or one-quarter of an inch, turn all four edges of the garment towards the wrong side. Begin at the center of one side and hem all around the square, taking slanting even stitches, not too close together. Remove the basting, trim the edges of the patch, press the patch on the wrong side and catch stitch to the garment. This shows less on the right side and does not make a hard line as if the patch were turned back on the edge. If the cloth has a pattern or stripe, match it perfectly, having the warp threads of both running the same way. Cut both hole and patch square. An oval or round patch is unworkmanlike and does not wear well. Keep the corners square and hem down well. The object of pressing is to keep both garment and patch flat and even. Flannel patches should be cat-stitched on the right side. No flannel edges should ever be inturned.

[Sidenote: Onset Patch]

The onset patch is used on lined garments and linings. The patch should be rectangular and larger than the worn place. Fold the four edges on the wrong side of the patch, place the patch with its wrong side on the right side of the garment directly over the center of the hole. This will bring the folded edges of the patch between the two pieces of cloth and both right sides towards the worker. Do not baste, but pin carefully. After the garment has been folded back until there are two folded edges side by side, overhand the seam with even slanting stitches. See that the corners are well sewed, that warp and woof threads run in the same direction, that pattern and stripes match.

The worn part of the garment under the patch is cut away, leaving one-fourth of an inch on the three sides. Cut the corners diagonally and turn back the edge quarter of an inch, overcast and press. If this patch is sewed on a lining, the worn part is not cut away. If this patch is used to repair skirts near the band, only three sides are oversewed, the upper edge should be gathered into the band. A large patch is less conspicuous than a small one.

[Sidenote: Patch for Trowsers]

An onset patch may be used for the seats of trousers by shaping the patch like the pieces on the seats of bicycle trousers and stitching on the machine. Heavy cloth will need no inturned edges. The same precautions are necessary regarding warp and woof, pattern, etc.


[Sidenote: Thread for Darning]

Darning is usually done with a running stitch, with or without a piece of net or cloth underset. Thread for darning should be as near as possible the size of the threads in the garment. Whenever it can be done, a warp thread of the garment should be used. No sewing silk is fine enough to use without separating the thread and using one of the strands. Never use the thread as it is, as it is too hard twisted. Cotton and linen thread of the finest quality, untwisted, should be used for darning stockings and underwear. Linen may be darned with linen or mercerized cotton. Cotton is preferable.

A long slender needle with a large eye should be used. Darning should never be commenced with a knot, nor finished with a back stitch.

[Sidenote: Bias Darn]

A bias or diagonal cut and a three-cornered tear are the most difficult to repair. If the place is badly pulled and frayed, a piece of the same material should be basted on the wrong side of the material and darned in even stitches. Always darning parallel with the warp threads and the woof threads. In the diagonal tear, as the threads are cut diagonally, to prevent drawing apart, the darning threads must cross each other.

The stitches around any darn should not end in a stiff even line; this makes a hard edge which does not wear and is unsightly, and uncomfortable if on underwear.

[Sidenote: Darning a Three Cornered Tear]

The three-cornered tear may be darned in two ways. Begin by darning diagonally through the center, darning back and forth towards the end of the tear until one-half has been finished; then begin at the center and work in the opposite direction. At the corner, the stitches should form the shape of a fan. The other method, which is the stronger, is done by darning a square in the angle, first with the warp threads, then with the woof threads and finishing each end across the tear.

Stocking darning may be done on the right side. Begin by picking up the stitches and drawing the edges together. This should always be done in any kind of stocking darning, but not so close as to make a wrinkle.

In knees and heels of stockings, or knitted underwear, a piece of net large enough to extend beyond the thin part should be basted carefully; then darn down the outer edges of the net and finally the hole or thin place. This makes a strong, neat piece of mending. If the hole is large, the net may be covered with the chain stitch, thus imitating the knitting stitch. This should be done on the right side of the garment.

If the hole is to be filled in with the interlaced stitches, draw the edges together, darn beyond the thin places lengthwise of the knitted garment, making each line of stitches longer until the center of the hole is reached, then decrease in the same manner, making a diamond in shape. Darn across the hole in the same way, taking up every alternate stitch as in weaving. Leave a tiny loop at the end of each row of darning, so that the threads will not draw.

[Sidenote: Machine Darning]

Darning, satisfactory for some purposes, may be done quickly on a double thread sewing machine. It is best done in an embroidery ring, first drawing the edges together. Loosen the tension on the presser foot, use fine thread with light tension. Sew back and forth, first along the warp threads and then at right angles along the woof threads. The machine will be sewing backwards part of the time, but if the pressure is light, there will be no difficulty. For large holes, paper may be placed underneath.


The mitering of lace or embroidery is often necessary in making collars and in finishing corners. Before applying, plan carefully and select a scallop or portion of the embroidery which will produce the best effects when finished. This can be accomplished by folding the embroidery over at various portions of the pattern until a suitable point is found. Fold over at right angles and mark along the line to be mitered. The triangle may now be cut, but an extra width must always be allowed for the seam, as there is frequently a slight unevenness and one side may have to be held a little full or stretched to make a perfect match. The mitered seam is over-sewed.

After the corner is properly made, cut away the cloth of the embroidery, allowing only enough for an inturned seam on the edge. This seam may be stitched on the machine on both edges, or oversewed to the goods, or the embroidery may be securely sewed on the plain part, after which the underlying cloth may be cut away. This will make an almost perfect corner.

Lace may be matched and mitered in a similar way.


In joining lace, avoid a seam if possible. Select portions of the design that will match, placing one pattern of the same design over the other. Cut away a portion of the thick part of the pattern underneath and hem the edges and inner part of the design down with fine thread.

Smyrna or Torchon lace is more difficult to hem or join when very open or very fine. A small, felled seam is better than lapping and trying to match the pattern.

Embroidery can be matched in the same way. Never let two heavy designs lap over each other. The one on the wrong side should be cut out and the edge sewed securely to the upper part of the design.

The plain material above the embroidery can be joined by a lapped seam, turning first the right side and then the wrong side and hemming on both sides of the seam.


The sewing machine has taken away much of the drudgery of home sewing, but its use does not lessen the need of skill in hand work. No machine can finish ends of belts, collars, sew on trimmings, fastenings, and like work and the finish has much to do with the general appearance of a garment.

[Sidenote: Types of Machines]

All the prominent makes of sewing machines were invented in the decade following Howe's patent in 1846. The two chief types of machines are the lock stitch, using double thread, and the chain or loop stitch, using a single thread. Whatever the make of machine it should be run in accordance with the rules accompanying it. The worker should familiarize herself with the directions for setting and threading the needle, winding the bobbin, regulating the tension and the stitch and all other technicalities of the particular machine she has to operate. Agencies of the various machines usually have skilled workers to give instruction to beginners. While it is not always an economy of time to use the attachments for hemming, tucking, etc., unless much work is to be done, it is worth while to know how to use them if desired. As much or more skill is required for neat machine work as for hand sewing. Results will not be satisfactory without careful basting.

[Sidenote: Care of the Machine]

The machine should be kept well oiled, free from dust and gum and it should he run evenly. In case it becomes "gummed" a drop of kerosene on the parts that have been oiled will cut the gum. Remove the shuttle and run the machine rapidly for a moment, then wipe off all the kerosene and oil the machine carefully with good machine oil—only the best should be used. A machine should always be wiped thoroughly before any work is placed upon it.

[Sidenote: Needles and Thread]

As in hand sewing, needles and thread should be selected with care. A blunt or bent needle should never be used, it should have a fine sharp point and the eye should be sufficiently large to carry the thread easily. The needle and thread should be suitable for the material to be sewed. Glazed thread should never be used in a machine. The best quality of thread and silk should be purchased but only enough for immediate use, as it loses strength with age, chiefly because of the action of the dyes and chemicals. Even white thread may become "tender" from the chemicals used in bleaching it. Sewing silk and cotton should be kept in a closed box to exclude the light and air.

For sewing cotton or linen the best cotton thread should be used. Woolen, silk, and velvet should be stitched with the best machine silk. The thread should match the material in color. Cotton thread fades or loses its brightness when exposed to the light, therefore for stitching that will show it is always better to use silk. The thread on the bobbin should be wound evenly and carefully to insure an even stitch and the tension of both threads should be equal, otherwise the stitch will not be perfect. As a lock stitch machine requires two threads while in hand sewing only one is used, the two need not be as coarse as the single thread. For ordinary home sewing, underwear, thin gowns and the like, No. 70 to No. 100 will be found satisfactory. Finer thread may be used when the materials demand it, but no coarser than No. 50 should be used in the machine and this only with the coarsest material.

[Sidenote: Fastening Threads]

Much time may be saved in fastening the threads at the ends of tucks, hems on sheets, towels, etc., by careful manipulation of the machine. For example, on sheets begin to stitch along the hem at the selvage, or if the end of the hem is over-sewed, begin an inch from the edge and stitch the hem towards the selvage, then lift the presser-foot so as to turn the work, and retrace the bit of stitching, continuing across the whole hem. When the end is reached, release the presser-foot, turn the work, and stitch back for an inch or more in the same line, as was done at the beginning of the hem. By this method the threads are fastened much more easily and quickly than by drawing them through on to the wrong side and tying or sewing them by hand and, of course, it is more satisfactory than the "shop" way of cutting them off short. Tucks or seams may be fastened in the same way. If fine thread is used the double stitching at the ends is hardly noticeable.

[Sidenote: Bias Side Next Feed]

When stitching a seam having one bias and one straight side, let the bias side come next to the feed, that is, on the underside. This is especially important in thin materials. If the material is very sheer, strips of soft paper—newspaper will answer for ordinary purposes—should be sewed in the seam. This will insure a seam free from puckers and when finished the paper can be pulled away easily.

[Sidenote: Stitching Gathers]

In sewing gathers on a band they should also come next the "feed," as it takes up the side next to it a little faster than the upper side. When the bias, or cross-way side of the seam, or gathers are next to the "feed" the material runs along smoothly, but if the straight side is towards it there is apt to be a pucker.

Stitching can be done more easily on the right of the presser foot with the bulk of the material lying to the left. The tendency of the "feed" or teeth is to crowd the work off the edge as well as forward and the stitching may be guided better on the right side.

All straight seams should be stretched to the full extent of their straight edge in stitching, as the work passes under the presser foot.

When a large amount of machine sewing is to be done—such as household linen, sheets, pillow cases and underwear—it is a good plan to do all the basting and hand work first and keep the machine stitching for a rainy or a damp day, as the thread is then less apt to break. A current of air or a breeze from an open window on a dry day will often cause the thread to snap. For the same reason the machine should never stand near the fire or radiator.



READ CAREFULLY. This test consists of two parts,—answers to the questions and the making of models. Both should be sent to the School for inspection and correction. All models should be made about 4 by 6 inches so that they may be put into the envelope provided without being folded. Two series of models are given; either or both may be made.

1. What instruction have you ever had in sewing?

(b) Has the subject any educational value?

2. What are the common basting stitches, and for what are they used?

3. Can you make the running stitch properly? How is it done?

4. For what purpose may the cat stitch be used?

5. Hems and Seams: Describe the different kinds for thick and thin materials, including those for flannel and state when they should be used.

6. Describe three kinds of plackets.

7. How are gathers made, and how sewed into a band?

8. What can you say of fastenings?

9. With what sewing machine are you most familiar, and what are its peculiarities?

10. What stitches or methods described in this lesson are new to you?

Note: After completing the answers, sign your full name.


I. STITCHES. On a piece of cotton about 4 by 6 inches, make with colored thread (1) a line of even basting stitches, (2) uneven basting stitches, (3) tacking, (4) running, (5) back stitch, (6) running and back, (7) half back.

With embroidery silk make a row each of (1) cat stitch, (2) single feather, (3) double feather, (4) chain, (5) rows of French knots with border of outline stitch.

Make your initial in one corner, using any stitch preferred.

Overcast one long edge of the model, double overcast the opposite side, finish one end with plain loop or blanket stitch, and the other end with some fancy loop stitch. Fasten all threads as described in the text.

II. SEAMS AND HEMS. (a) Join two pieces of fine cotton with a French seam at the long edge, about 2 by 51/2 inches, with warp running lengthwise. (b) Cut a piece of muslin on a true bias and attach the bias edge to a with a felled seam. (c) Trim the model and hem all sides so that the finished model may measure 4 by 6 inches.

III. DARNING AND PATCHING. (a) In gingham or figures cotton, make an underset patch of a square hole, matching the goods. (b) Darn a three-cornered tear.

IV. FASTENINGS. The proper distance from the edge of folded goods make (a) button hole, one end rounded and the other finished with a bar tack. (b) Under it make a partly finished, barred buttonhole. (c) Below this make an eyelet hole, (d) below the eyelet hole a loop, and sew on an eye.

On a second piece of folded goods opposite the first buttonhole, (a) sew a four-hole button, corresponding in size to the buttonhole. (b) Opposite the second buttonhole sew on a two-hole button; (c) below, sew on two hooks corresponding in position to the loop and eye. Make the two parts of the model so that the corresponding fastenings will join.

V. APRON. Using fine muslin, make a doll's apron, gathering into band at top. Above hem at the bottom, make two clusters of tucks of three each.


I. ROLLED HEM; HEM STITCHING. Make a doll's apron of fine muslin, attach top to band with rolled, whipped gathers. Make two clusters of tucks of three each at the bottom and hem stitch the bottom hem.

II. SLEEVE PLACKET. Make a taped sleeve placket as shown in the illustration.

III. MAKE A SLOT SEAM, using dress goods and finish with an arrow head. (b) Make a large cloak buttonhole.

IV. MITRE EMBROIDERY and finish as shown in the illustration. (b) Match and join the same.

V. EMBROIDERY: Make something small and useful—a doily, stock, collar—illustrating some style of embroidery, or make a model of the first series which will afford you the most new experience.




[Sidenote: Good Tools Necessary]

The greatest obstacle to home sewing of any kind is the failure to provide suitable materials with which to do the work. To do good work—to make attractive gowns—the simple tools which the work requires must be provided. First, there should be needles and pins of the best quality and make. They should be fine and well pointed. The needle should be suitable to the material to be sewn and sufficiently large to carry the thread easily. A blunt or bent needle should never be used. Long or milliner's needles are preferred by many for basting.

[Sidenote: Thread]

A good supply of thread should be kept on hand—not too great a quantity, but the stock should be added to as it is used. There should be both silk and colored cotton, also twist for button holes, loops and arrow heads and knitting silk to sew on and finish feather bone.

[Sidenote: Scissors]

Two pairs of scissors are required—one with long, sharp blades, and a pair of medium sizes for snipping machine stitches.

Among the other necessary articles are a tape measure, cake of wax, pencils or tailor's chalk, tracing wheel, emery, lap board.

Canvas, scrim, or any like material should be kept in the sewing room, as these are invaluable for facings, linings of collars, cuffs, etc. Hooks, eyes, buttons, tape, linings, featherbone and shields are requisites not to be forgotten.

[Sidenote: Tapes]

Tape is constantly needed. Linen tape is thinner and makes a neater finish for some purposes than cotton tape. The bias tape or binding now kept by the larger stores is very useful for binding curved edges and for other purposes.

[Sidenote: Cutting Table]

If a regular cutting table is not available, the dining room table should be used. Skirts, bodices, ruffles, and bias bands should be cut on firm, even, and large surfaces. If cut upon the floor or bed and pressed on a coarse crash towel, the garment will have the undesirable home-made look.

[Sidenote: Pressing Board]

A good pressing board should be provided and if possible a sleeve board. In the process of garment making of any kind too much stress cannot be laid upon constant and careful pressing.

The ironing board should have for its outside cover a finely woven, perfectly smooth cloth, tightly stretched, free from wrinkles, and securely tacked.

Where there is gas, a small, portable stove should be kept near the sewing table with a medium-sized flat iron. Lacking gas, one of the single burner oil stoves may be used. An electric flat iron is especially convenient.

[Sidenote: Bust Form]

A bust form is a great convenience in fitting and almost a necessity for one who does much home dressing. These may be purchased at department stores. Some kinds are adjustable, but it is always best to make a carefully fitted lining for it and pad out to the correct shape and size. The pattern should be one that extends well over the hips and heavy unbleached muslin may be used. After padding firmly, the front opening should be oversewed. Special care should be taken with shoulders and neck and the neck band should be carefully adjusted on the figure.

A padded sleeve lining is also very useful in making sleeves.

Dressmaking never should be begun until each needed article required for the work has been purchased. The sewing room should be in order; the machine well oiled and wiped before any work is undertaken.

[Sidenote: Skill and Taste]

If the finished garment is to be perfect, careful attention must be given to every detail of the cutting and making up. To possess mechanical skill alone is not sufficient. A successful garment depends not only upon the dexterity with which the worker manipulates the actual tools of her craft, but upon all her faculties and her power of applying them. She must have a comprehension of the laws of beauty in dress, construction, ornament, color, selection, economy. The artisan knows the technical part only, and looks upon each dress—each piece of lace and velvet—as so much material to be snipped and cut and sewed, copying from the fashion plate, making gown after gown alike. The artist, on the other hand, makes the gown to suit the individual wearer, considering each dress no matter how simple—and the simpler, the more artistic—as a creation designed to suit the woman for whom it was planned.

People who study economy from principle will never adopt anything extreme in weave, or color, or make. These extreme fashions are never lasting; they are too conspicuous and are vulgarized by bad copies, while a thing which is known to be good and beautiful once will remain so for all time. Those who are beginners in the art of dressmaking should select plain designs until skill is acquired. The making up and finishing of new fabrics and new or untried methods are problems that often dismay even the most experienced dressmaker.


[Sidenote: Selection of Patterns]

The makers of good and reliable patterns are many. Always buy patterns of firms that make proportion of figure as well as fashion a study. These patterns state length of skirt, waist and hip measure and quantity of material required in all widths. Buy a skirt pattern with correct hip size, as it is much more difficult to change this than to alter the dimensions of a waist. Adjust the pattern to the figure for which the garment is to be cut and see that it is right in all of its proportions. Always follow the notches indicated in the seams of the pattern, and thus avoid putting wrong pieces together. Be sure that the pattern is placed correctly upon the material with the straight grain or warp threads of the goods running directly on a line with the straight perforations indicated in the pattern. Lay the entire pattern upon the cloth. This gives an idea just where every piece is to come out.

[Sidenote: What the Pattern Gives]

All patterns give one-half of the bodice and the skirt, from center of back to center of front. The plain waist pattern consists of back, curved side piece, under arm piece (sometimes these two pieces are in one) front, upper and under sleeve, collar or neck band. Some patterns allow for seams—others do not. Skirt patterns give only one-half of the front gore. The seam edges of front gore are marked by one notch near the waist line. The front or straight edge of the first side gore has one notch, and two on the back edge of side gore. All the gores may be distinguished from the edges of the back gores by the lesser number of notches. This is true of all skirt patterns. If the patterns are studied carefully, all skirt cutting becomes very easy.

The object of goring a garment is to take out unnecessary fullness at the top; reducing the weight, making the garment less clumsy, and giving a nicety of finish which could not be done in heavy material if all the goods were left to fit into a band. Skirts may be lined or unlined, gored or full.


The style may vary with the fashion, but a well-fitting skirt should hang even around the bottom edge, should fit easily around the hips without being strained or defining the figure too closely, or "ride up" when sitting, should flare slightly from hips to the bottom of the skirt, should not fall in between the feet, the back should fall well behind the figure. For heavy goods, as little material as possible consistent with the prevailing style should be used.


Shortening or lengthening of pattern if necessary. Placing of goods. Pinning on of pattern so there is no waste. Cutting. Removing and care of patterns. Pinning, basting, or tacking of skirt to lining. Joining of seams, fitting. Stitching. Pressing. Finishing of seams and placket hole. Making and putting on waist-band. Marking length and finishing the bottom. Fastenings, loops, braids, hooks and eyes.

[Sidenote: Lengthening or Shortening Patterns]

To lengthen or shorten a skirt pattern, measure the figure and regulate the length of the patterns by making a fold in each gore two-thirds of the way from the top of the pattern if too long. This is for the simplest skirt pattern. The shape of the skirt may require two folds, one two-thirds from the top and a small fold near the bottom to preserve the outline.

If too short pin the pattern on the material, cut around the top of gore and on each side two-thirds of the distance from the top of gore. Unpin and draw the pattern down to the bottom and cut the required length. Except for wash material, do not turn a gored skirt up at the bottom to form a wide hem, as the fullness made by turning is hard to dispose of neatly and the right curve at the bottom of the skirt may be lost.

Another way to lengthen the pattern is to cut it in two, two-thirds the distance from the top. See that all pleats or tucks are exactly the same width and at the exact distance from the top or bottom of the gore, also that all seams are of the right length. A shorter skirt must be proportionately narrower.

[Sidenote: Testing Patterns]

It is well to test the skirt and waist patterns by using inexpensive materials, such as calico, gingham, or cheap lining. Cut, baste, fit, and make this as carefully as if it were the best cloth or silk. If the skirt and waist are satisfactory, the pattern will do duty for several seasons. The plain waist pattern is the foundation for any waist and many changes can be made easily with a well-fitting skirt and plain waist pattern as a basis.

[Sidenote: Cloth Patterns]

As paper patterns soon wear out, after a waist and skirt have been perfectly fitted, it is a good plan to cut an exact pattern of cambric, both skirt and waist, tracing seams and notching the parts. This will enable the home dressmaker to cut and make all ordinary dresses with little trouble and with but one trying on. It is always well to try on once, as materials differ in texture and a slight change may be necessary.

[Sidenote: Placing Patterns]

If the material is plain, has no nap, or if the design is perfectly symmetrical, the gores may be alternated, the top of one gore coming opposite the bottom of the next. The half pattern of the front gore is always laid on a lengthwise fold of the goods. If the goods is wide, the other gores may be cut double with the cloth folded lengthwise. With narrow goods, the cloth may be folded end to end after the middle gore has been cut out, and the other gores cut double. Care should be taken that the line of holes in the middle of the gores runs exactly in a line with the warp of the material, i. e., parallel to the selvage.

If the goods has a figure, the design should run upwards. Any nap should run downward, except with velvet or velveteen, in which it should run upwards. With such goods, the gores if cut double must be placed on a lengthwise fold, with the lengths running the same way. If the goods is narrow, the gores may have to be cut single, reversing the pattern (turning it over) so that both pieces may not be for the same side.

[Sidenote: Pinning Patterns]

Pin the middle of the pattern to the goods and smooth towards each end, pinning securely at top and bottom. Avoid too many pins and pin carefully, otherwise the pattern will be displaced.

[Sidenote: Cutting Out]

After the pattern is securely pinned, cut out the gores, using long, sharp shears. Care should be taken not to lift the material from the table, not to have jagged, uneven edges, as both time and material will be wasted in straightening them. Open the shears as wide as possible, taking a long sweep of the material, and do not allow the points of the shears to come together. Mark all notches with basting thread, tailor's chalk, or notch the goods if it does not ravel.

The back gores should be cut in the same way. They are usually wider than the front gores and may require piecing, which should be done along the warp threads.

Now remove the pattern, pin carefully all pieces together and fold as little as possible. The trinity—pin, baste, press—should be written in large letters in every sewing room, for much of the beauty of the gown depends upon these three.

[Sidenote: Joining the Skirt]

To join the skirt, pin the side gores to the front gores, beginning at the top, with pins running across the seams, then begin at the top of the skirt and baste downward, allowing all unevenness to come out at the bottom. Baste straight and evenly, taking one stitch at a time. Several stitches should never be taken at once on thick or piled goods, as the side next to the sewer is apt to be fuller in that case. When all seams are basted, try on the skirt and make all changes necessary before stitching. Both the outside skirt and any under or "drop" skirt should be fitted as carefully as a waist.

[Sidenote: Lined Skirt]

If the skirt is to be lined the lining should be made and fitted first, then ripped and the outside carefully basted on the lining, being well stretched over the lining, care being taken to have the warp of the outside and the lining run the same way. This will prevent the lining from drawing the goods.

[Sidenote: Stitching Skirts]

A stitch of medium length should be used on all seams whether white goods or cloth. If the stitch is too long, the seam will "gap" and will show the thread; if too short, the seam is apt to draw. The line of stitching must be absolutely parallel inside or outside of the basting or the curve will be ruined. Use silk or the best cotton for stitching skirts and be sure that the needle is not too coarse.

[Sidenote: Finishing Seams]

After stitching, all bastings along the seams should be taken out by cutting the thread in several places. Never pull a basting the length of the skirt. The seams should be opened and pressed according to directions. The seams may be finished with a taffeta binding, overcast, stitched flat or notched, as the case demands.

[Sidenote: Stiffening]

If stiffening is used at the bottom of a lined skirt it should be fitted to each lining gore separately and securely stitched. A light weight canvas should be stitched to a heavy cloth skirt at the bottom, if several rows of stitching or braid are to finish the bottom of the skirt.

[Sidenote: Placket]

The placket may be finished before the two back gores are pinned to the front, if preferred. If done before joining the gores the placket can be pressed better and the front is not so liable to be crushed. On the left side of the skirt sew an underlap of sufficient length to extend well below the end of the opening. Face the right side of the opening with a piece of the goods, or tape not too wide, hem or cat-stitch to the skirt, and finish with hooks and eyes, loops, or any fastening that will secure the placket.

[Sidenote: Putting on Band]

The skirt is now ready for the band, which should be narrow. Always cut parallel with the selvage and the length of the underlap longer than the waist measure, allowing for turning at the ends. The band should never be thick and clumsy and not too tight. Try on the skirt and fit the band carefully, marking the seam with pins, a line of basting, or chalk. Hold the skirt easy on the band and baste with small stitches, then stitch on the machine. If the skirt is too tight around the hips the plaits will fall apart at the back. If the skirt is stretched on the band the seams will not fall in a straight line. After the band is securely stitched and finished with hooks and eyes adjust the length by turning under at the bottom and pinning, after which baste all around and try on again to make sure that the length is correct.

[Sidenote: Finishing the Bottom]

A gored outside garment should be finished with a true bias or a fitted facing, carefully stitched on. It is possible to finish the bottom of a simple house dress or thin skirt with a hem if the fullness made by turning is disposed of in gathers or fine pleats. A bias facing, however, is always preferable. If of heavy or lined goods the finish should be velveteen or braid the same color as the skirt. These bindings come in different widths and grades. Braids should always be shrunken by wetting and drying thoroughly; one wetting is not enough. Velveteen should be applied loosely, so as not to shrink or draw after it becomes damp on the skirt.

[Sidenote: Applying Velveteen Binding]

The right side of the velveteen should be carefully basted with small, even stitches to the edge of the facing. It may be hemmed to the facing or machine stitched just inside the basting, which need not be removed. It is then turned, allowing a very narrow portion to show below the edge, and basted with close stitches, pressed, hemmed down to the facing by hand, or cat stitched without turning the edge. Be careful not to let the stitches show on the right side, nor let the binding twist or pucker. The joining of the velveteen should be near the seam in the back.

Another method is to cut off the bottom edge of the skirt a quarter of an inch from the turning line; apply the wrong side of the velveteen to the right side of the skirt, baste carefully close to the edge and stitch on the machine through velveteen, cloth, and lining (or facing) just inside the basting which is left in. The bottom of the raw edge is turned up, basted close to the edge allowing the velveteen to show a very little. The upper edge of the velveteen is secured as before by turning and hemming or catstitched without turning. The illustration shows this method of applying the velveteen which is first stitched to the lining and turned with the edge. This makes a firm, rather stiff finish.

[Sidenote: Braid]

Braid is stitched on to the bottom of a skirt with a narrow edge showing, or it may be applied like the velveteen, with a doubled edge at the bottom. The doubled edge will wear better.

[Sidenote: Finish of Wash Skirts]

Skirts that are to be washed and therefore which are very likely to shrink must be finished at the bottom with a wide hem—at least six inches—the fullness made by turning being disposed of carefully in pleats or gathers.

If desired, the bias seam down the back of the skirt may have a narrow woven tape or selvage of thin goods stitched in with the seam. This strengthens the seam and prevents dragging. The skirt when finished should always be longer in front than in the back.

All cloth dresses demand every detail of finish to make them complete and able to stand hard usage, but simple house dresses and thin summer dresses do not require such careful finish.


[Sidenote: Trace Seams]

In planning a waist the same rules should be observed in placing patterns, etc., as described for skirts, except that the lines and seams should be traced with a tracing wheel or marked carefully. In making a waist of any kind care must be taken to cut all the pieces the proper way of the material.

[Sidenote: Baste Lavishly]

The difficulty of putting garments together after they have been cut properly is due to undue haste, lack of care in details and insufficient pressing. The apparently simple act of basting is really of primal importance, particularly in the making of a waist. One need never be afraid of basting too much or too carefully. Economize cloth and time in cutting, but use basting lavishly.

[Sidenote: Altering Waist Patterns]

The waist pattern may be made shorter by laying folds across both back and front. The fold across the back should be two inches above the waist line and across the front two inches below the arm's eye (in the back). Securely pin or baste the folds in the pattern. If the pattern is of nearly the correct size it may be only necessary to make the waist shorter and smaller. The neck and arm's eye will seldom need altering. The sleeves may be shortened in the same way by laying folds in the pattern, above and below the elbow.


After the waist is cut, remove and care for the patterns. Make the sleeves, cuffs and collar band first. Make box plait on right or left side as liked by the wearer and hem on the other side or face. Baste shoulders and under-arm seams. Try on the waist, making all changes necessary by enlarging or taking up seams. Pin for neck band and mark for seams. Fit sleeves and mark places for seams. Arrange fullness and place tape at back of waist line.

[Sidenote: Making Plain Sleeve]

If the pattern is for a plain, one-seam sleeve with the cuff opening at the end of the seam, hem each side of the opening one or two inches from the bottom, gather the bottom between the notches, lay the gathers, baste the right side of the sleeve band or cuff to the wrong side of the sleeve, stitch and press, fold in a hem on all edges of the cuff, fold the cuff over on the wrong side of the sleeve, baste, oversew the ends of the cuff, press and stitch the cuff close to all edges. After thus attaching the cuff, baste and stitch the long seam of the sleeve and gather at the top between notches. The cuff is usually cut in the direction of the warp of the goods.

The sleeve described is the simplest that can be made. If the sleeve is to open at the back and finished with a tape, with a placket, strap or fancy lap, the seam in the sleeve is stitched first and the cuff afterward adjusted.

The box plait is made if desired and the under arm and shoulder seams basted when the shirt waist is ready to try on. Make any change in the seams necessary. The neck band is put on in the same way as the cuffs, sleeves sewed in, fullness arranged at the back and a tape placed at the waist line. Three hooks or other fastenings should always be placed at the back to attach to corresponding fastenings in the skirt band. The bottom edge of the waist may be finished by overcasting.

[Sidenote: Bottom Finish]

If it is desired to have the fullness cut away at the waist line in front, determine the length, allowing sufficient for a blouse, gather the waist at the bottom and sew the fullness on to a band. Sometimes this band is carried entirely around the waist.

[Sidenote: Fit of Collar]

The fit of the collar or neck band is very important in any kind of a waist. Both the front and the back may be cut higher than the pattern, as it is easy to cut off in adjusting and more goods cannot be added.

To the unskilled the simplest garment is sufficiently difficult. It is wiser to make two or three perfectly plain garments before attempting to make an elaborate one.

After the pattern has been tested, fitted and all necessary changes made, cut a pattern from the fitted waist of cambric or cheap new muslin and mark or trace all seams. (Never use old, worn-out sheets from which to cut a pattern.) After this permanent pattern has been made, do not change a single line.

[Sidenote: Tucked Waist]

[Sidenote: Full Busted Waist]

If a plaited or tucked waist is to be made, all plaiting and tucking should be done first, after which the same order of making is to be followed for a plain waist. No waist should draw or strain across the bust. This is especially important in tucked or pleated waists. To guard against this tendency, a graduated tuck can be pinned on either side of the front, beginning with nothing at the shoulders and widening at the waist line. This is done before the pattern is cut and will allow for especially full bust. The fold should be on a thread of the goods.


The plain, closely fitted, lined waist, with the curved back and side forms is the most difficult to make and requires the greatest nicety in handling from beginning to finish.

The pattern for a bodice of this kind should be of such a shape that in each part the woof threads will go as straight around the waist as possible. This makes the warp threads perpendicular and will give almost a perfect bias on the current seams in the back. Do not cut the side forms out of any piece that is big enough, without regard to the warp and woof threads. If this is done, the threads in each will run differently and all ways but the right one. In a well-designed pattern the back forms should be nearly as wide at the arm's eye as they are at the waist line. The swell of bust and shoulders should be accommodated by the back and front forms.

When material is to be cut on the bias be careful to have a true bias (the diagonal of a square) around the waist and up the front and back seams.


Pin pattern to lining, cut out trace seams. Baste all seams on traced lines. Try on lining. Make changes. Rip lining, baste on outside and cut by fitted lining. Baste seams and try on. Make changes if necessary. Mark the turn for hem down the front, face and mark for fastenings. Stitch and finish seams. Put on featherbone. Put on collar; sew in sleeves. Finish.

[Sidenote: Finish Lining First]

In making a lined waist, the lining is cut, basted, and fitted before the outside is cut. After fitting, the lining is ripped apart and the outside cut by it. For all firm, heavy materials the lining should be slightly fuller than the outside, that is, the dress goods should be well stretched over the lining, just as in a lined skirt, and basted closely and evenly, the warp and the woof threads of the outside and lining corresponding.

In laying the pattern for cutting the lining, just as much attention should be paid to the direction of the threads as in cutting a striped or figured goods.

[Sidenote: Marking Seams]

All seams should be traced on the lining with the tracing wheel, with a slow backward and forward movement, making the perforations clear and distinct. Soft spongy goods that cannot be traced may be marked with a line of basting, tailor's chalk or by taking stitches with a pin along the line to be marked and twisting them in the goods. This will make holes that can be seen, but the twisting does not harm the goods. Always trace or mark the waist line, as this is the starting point from which to pin or baste. Bodice seams should never be begun at the top or bottom, but at the marks or notches that show the waist line, working towards the top and bottom.

After the lining is cut out, the seams should be basted exactly along the traced lines, with seams out, when it is ready to be tried on.

[Sidenote: Making Changes in Straight Seams]

If the pattern has been cut or drafted by the correct bust measure, the back seams should never be changed. If possible, make all changes required by letting out or taking in on the straight under-arm seams, leaving the curved ones and the darts untouched.

[Sidenote: Pinning and Basting]

Pins should be used plentifully while the fitting is being done, but they should be replaced with regular basting as soon as they are removed. Do not be afraid of taking up fullness in the lining by darts crosswise at the top of the corset or where the fullness naturally falls in front or back. Such darts should be basted, stitched and pressed flat. If the lining is too short, it may be lengthened by letting out the shoulder seams.

[Sidenote: Outside Cut by Lining]

After the lining is fitted, it is ripped apart, the outside cut, basted to it and the seams are basted, beginning at the waist line. Never use a long thread in basting and always use short, even stitches, especially where any curved seams are to be stitched on the machine. This rule must be followed invariably if puckering is to be avoided.

[Sidenote: Shoulder Seams]

The pattern at the shoulder seams should be shorter in front than at the back. In joining this seam, pin the two portions so that the ends of the seam meet exactly at the neck and arm's eye. In basting, stretch the front piece to fit the back, holding it in or puckering it if need be. Pressing will banish the pucker and give an easy seam that will hug the curve of the shoulder, as in a man's coat.

[Sidenote: Fitting]

When the waist is on the figure, pull it well down to the waist line, pin the front linings together beginning with the neck, then lift the waist a little in front to give fullness and pin to the waist line. Mark for the hem down the front, finish the edge with a well-fitted facing under which is a thin bias strip of canvas interlining for buttons or hooks and eyes. Marks showing the position of fastenings should be made at this time.

[Sidenote: Fitting of Neck and Sleeves]

The neck and arm's eye should be fitted by making slashes in the curve—never cut around the curve. For the collar or neck band have a true bias of thin canvas or crinoline and draw it around the neck and pin with the ends out, towards the worker. (Never lap any edges of waist, belt or collar when fitting.) Mark on the waist where the lower edge of the neck band touches. Draw the sleeve on the arm, pin and mark where it sets right, seeing that the elbow fullness is in the right place and that it does not twist at the hand.

As in the lining, all changes necessary in fitting should, if possible, be made in the straight seams, as it is difficult to preserve the proper lines of the curved ones. The shoulder seams should be the last one to be basted.

After all faults are remedied, the seams are carefully stitched along the line or basting, the bastings removed, the seams pressed and finished. The last seam to be stitched securely should be the one at the shoulder. By leaving this open, all fullness can be smoothed upwards and any trimming can be let into the seam.

[Sidenote: Boning]

Sew in featherbone by cat stitching to the seam, first finishing the ends by button-holing. All seams should be stretched well when sewing on bones of any kind.

Curved seams should be notched every one or two inches at the curve and bound or overcast. This allows them to lie flat.

[Sidenote: Draped Waist]

In a draped waist the lining is made separate and not stitched into any seam of the outside except at the shoulder. In fitting the outside the back is pinned on to the lining firmly, then the front and finally at the underarm seams. The seams are then basted, the waist tried on again, alterations made, if necessary, seams stitched and the bottom finished with the lining, as desired.

Three eyes or other fastenings should always be sewed at the seams in the waist line at the back to secure the skirt to the waist, thus preventing it from sinking below the waist line.

[Sidenote: Finish of Bottom of Waist]

The finish of the lower edge of the waist is often a problem. If the waist is to be worn under the skirt, just how to finish or whether to finish it at all is a question. The first step is to trim the edges evenly. A line of stitching and simple overcast will show less through a close-fitting skirt of light weight material. When binding is used, it should lie perfectly flat, twice stitched and pressed well.

If the waist is to be worn outside the skirt, a narrow bias strip of canvas should be basted on the wrong side, the waist turned up over this as directed for sleeve and collar finish. Over this a bias facing of silk may be hemmed or cat-stitched.

[Sidenote: Fitting Irregularity of Figure]

In spite of careful measuring and all care in cutting, the waist may not fit, owing to some deformity or peculiarity of the figure. Such figures require especially careful fitting and the hollow place should be filled out with wadding. This needs to be done with the greatest care and nicety.

Avoid too frequent fittings. The bias portions of the bodice are liable to stretch out of shape and too much handling of the waist takes away the freshness. This is one reason why it is advisable to make the sleeves and collar first in order that the whole waist may be fitted at once and all alterations made to fit both sides. A perfect figure is the exception rather than the rule and the side that is not developed should be well fitted, whether sleeve or bodice.


[Sidenote: Altering Patterns]

If it is necessary to lengthen the sleeve, say two inches, cut the pattern at right angles to the lines indicated by the dots, above and below the elbow. The slashing should be done exactly at the same distance apart in the upper and under portions of the sleeve in order to retain the proper shape and size of the top and bottom. Separate the parts, allowing one inch above and one inch below the elbow.

To shorten the sleeve, lap the slashed part or lay a fold in the pattern instead of slashing. In either case, care should be taken that the fold or lap is of even width all the way across, so that the original shape of the sleeve will not be lost.

[Sidenote: Placing of Patterns]

Too much care cannot be taken in arranging the pattern of the sleeve according to the thread of the goods. Especially is this the case in the two-piece or coat sleeve. Generally the top part of the outside seam and the lower part of the same side should be placed at the edge or fold of the goods, so that the two run in the same straight line. In all cases, the foundation sleeve or lining should be cut and fitted before the outer portion is adjusted. Ample time should be given to the fitting and basting of the sleeve. The "set" of the sleeve is very often unsatisfactory because the cutting and original basting was done in a careless manner. Remember that greater care is required in sleeve making than in any part of the garment. Each sleeve is complete in itself and one must not deviate from the other in size, arrangement or ornament, or general appearance. They should be cut, basted and fitted alike and if the arms differ in size or length the sleeves must be so adjusted as to conceal the inequality.

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