Handbook of Embroidery

1880, by L. Higgin, edited by Lady Marian Alford






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Handbook of Embroidery by L. Higgin
Handbook of Embroidery
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Textile Fabrics used as grounds for Embroidery


There are many varieties of unglazed, half-bleached linens, from that thirty-six and forty inches wide, used for chair-back covers, to that ninety inches wide, used for large table-covers, curtains, &c. There are also endless varieties of fancy linens, both of hand and power-loom weaving, for summer dresses, for bed furniture, chair-back covers, table-cloths, &c.

Flax is the unbleached brown linen, often used for chair-back covers.

Twill is a thick linen suitable for coverings for furniture.

Kirriemuir Twill is a fine twilled linen made at Kirriemuir, and is good for tennis aprons, dresses, curtains, &c.

[Pg 12] Sailcloth is a stout linen, of yellow colour, and is only suitable for screen panels.

Oatcake Linen, so called from its resemblance to Scotch oatcake, has been popular for screen panels or washstand backs. It is very coarse and rough.

Oatmeal Linen is finer and of a greyer tone. It is also used for screens, and for smaller articles.

Smock Linen is a strong even green cloth. It makes an excellent ground for working screens, and is also used for tennis aprons.

Crash.—Properly speaking, the name “crash” is only applied to the coarse Russian home-spun linen, which has been such a favourite from the beauty of its tone of colour. It is, however, erroneously applied to all linens used for embroidery, whether woven by hand-loom or machinery; and this confusion of names frequently leads to mistakes. Crash is almost always very coarse, is never more than eighteen inches wide, and cannot be mistaken for a machine-made fabric. It is woven by the Russian peasants in their own homes, in lengths varying from five to ten yards, and, therefore, though sent over in large bales, it is very difficult to find two pieces among a hundred that in any way match each other.

Bolton, or Workhouse Sheeting, is a coarse twilled cotton fabric, seventy-two inches wide, of a beautiful soft creamy colour, which improves much in washing. It is [Pg 13] inexpensive, and an excellent ground for embroidery, either for curtains, counterpanes, chair coverings, or for ladies’ dresses, or tennis aprons.

It resembles the twilled cotton on which so much of the old crewel embroidery was worked in the seventeenth century, and is one of the most satisfactory materials when of really good quality.

All descriptions of linen, except the “oatcake” and “sailcloth,” can be embroidered in the hand.