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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Embroidery Materials


Crewel should be cut into short threads, never more than half the length of the skein. If a long needleful is used, it is not only apt to pull the work, but is very wasteful, as the end of it is liable to become frayed or knotted before it is nearly worked up. If it is necessary to use it double (and for coarse work, such as screen panels on sailcloth, or for embroidering on Utrecht velvet, it is generally better doubled), care should be taken never to pass it through the eye of the needle, knotting the two ends; but two separate threads of the length required should be passed together through the needle.

Crewel should not be manufactured with a twist, as it makes the embroidery appear hard and rigid; and the shades of colour do not blend into each other so harmoniously as when they are untwisted.

In crewels of the best quality the colours are perfectly fast, and will bear being repeatedly washed, provided no soda or washing-powder is used. Directions for cleaning [Pg 4] crewel work are given later; but it should not be sent to an ordinary laundress, who will most certainly ruin the colours.

Crewel is suitable for embroidery on all kinds of linen—on plain or diagonal cloth, serge, flannel, &c. It is also very effective when used in conjunction with embroidery silk, or filoselle, either in conventional designs, or where flowers are introduced. The leaves may be worked in crewels, and the flowers in silk, or the effect of the crewels increased by merely touching up the high lights with silk.

Tapestry Wool is more than twice the thickness of crewel, and is used for screen panels, or large curtain borders, where the work is coarse, and a good deal of ground has to be covered. It is also used for bath blankets and carriage and sofa rugs. Tapestry wool is not yet made in all shades.

Fine crewels are used for delicately working small figures, d’oyleys, &c.; but there is also a difficulty about obtaining these in all shades, as there is not much demand for them at present.

Arrasene is a new material. It is a species of worsted chenille, but is not twisted round fine wire or silk, like ordinary chenille; though it is woven first into a fabric, and then cut in the same manner. It serves to produce broad effects for screen panels, or borders, and has a very soft, rich appearance when carefully used. It is made also in silk; but this is inferior to worsted arrasene, or the old-fashioned chenille.