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Title: Art in Needlework - A Book about Embroidery
Author: Day, Lewis Foreman, 1845-1910, Buckle, Mary
Language: English
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The printed Errata have been corrected in the text. A few additional
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Embroidery may be looked at from more points of view than it would be
possible in a book like this to take up seriously. Merely to hover round
the subject and glance casually at it would serve no useful purpose. It
may be as well, therefore, to define our standpoint: we look at the art
from its practical side, not, of course, neglecting the artistic, for
the practical use of embroidery is to be beautiful.

The custom has been, since woman learnt to kill time with the needle, to
think of embroidery too much as an idle accomplishment. It is more than
that. At the very least it is a handicraft: at the best it is an art.
This contention may be to take it rather seriously; but if one esteemed
it less it would hardly be worth writing about, and the book, when
written, would not be worth the attention of students of embroidery,
needleworkers, and designers of needlework to whom it is addressed. It
sets forth to show what decorative stitching is, how it is done, and
what it can do. It is illustrated by samplers of stitches; by diagrams,
to explain the way stitches are done; and by examples of old and modern
work, to show the artistic application of the stitches.

A feature in the book is the series of samplers designed to show not
only what are the available stitches, but the groups into which they
naturally gather themselves, as well as the use to which they may be
put: and the back of the sampler is given too: the reader has only to
turn the page to see the other side of the stitching--which to a
needlewoman is often the more helpful. Lest that should not be enough,
the stitches are described in the text, and a marginal note shows at a
glance where the description is given. This should be read needle and
thread in hand--or skipped. Samplers and other examples of needlework
are uniformly on a scale large enough to show the stitch quite plainly.
The examples of old work illustrate always, in the first place, some
point of workmanship; still they are chosen with some view to their
artistic interest.

In other respects Art is not overlooked; but it is Art in harness.
Design is discussed with reference to stitch and stuff, and stitch and
stuff with reference to their use in ornament. It has been endeavoured
also to show the effect needlework has had upon pattern, and the ways in
which design is affected by the circumstance that it is to be

The joint authorship of the work needs, perhaps, a word of explanation.
This is not just a man's book on a woman's subject. The scheme of it is
mine, and I have written it, but with the co-operation throughout of
Miss Mary Buckle. Our classification of the stitches is the result of
many a conference between us. The description of the way the stitches
are worked, and so forth, is my rendering of her description,
supplemented by practical demonstration with the needle. She has primed
me with technical information, and been always at hand to keep me from
technical error. With reference to design and art I speak for myself.

My thanks are due to the authorities at South Kensington for allowing us
to handle the treasures of the national collection, and to photograph
them for illustration; to Mrs. Walter Crane, Miss Mabel Keighley, and
Miss C. P. Shrewsbury, for permission to reproduce their handiwork; to
Miss Argles, Mrs. Buxton Morrish, Colonel Green, R.E., and Messrs.
Morris and Co., for the loan of work belonging to them; and to Miss
Chart for working the cross-stitch sampler.

I must also acknowledge the part my daughter has had in the production
of this book: without her constant help it could never have been

                                                   LEWIS F. DAY.

    _January 1st, 1900._


    CHAP.                                                        PAGE

     1. EMBROIDERY AND EMBROIDERY STITCHES                          1

     2. CANVAS STITCHES                                            12

     3. CREWEL-STITCH                                              26

     4. CHAIN-STITCH                                               38

     5. HERRING-BONE-STITCH                                        47

     6. BUTTONHOLE-STITCH                                          55

     7. FEATHER AND ORIENTAL STITCHES                              62

     8. ROPE AND KNOT STITCHES                                     71


    10. SATIN-STITCH AND ITS OFFSHOOTS                             91

    11. DARNING                                                   106

    12. LAID-WORK                                                 112

    13. COUCHING                                                  122

    14. COUCHED GOLD                                              131

    15. APPLIQUÉ                                                  144

    16. INLAY, MOSAIC, AND CUT-WORK                               153

    17. EMBROIDERY IN RELIEF                                      159

    18. RAISED GOLD                                               165

    19. QUILTING                                                  172

    20. STITCH GROUPS                                             175

    21. ONE STITCH OR MANY?                                       180

    22. OUTLINE                                                   185

    23. SHADING                                                   188

    24. FIGURE EMBROIDERY                                         198

    25. THE DIRECTION OF THE STITCH                               208

    26. CHURCH WORK                                               216

    27. A PLEA FOR SIMPLICITY                                     225

    28. EMBROIDERY DESIGN                                         232

    29. EMBROIDERY MATERIALS                                      242

    30. A WORD TO THE WORKER                                      250


1. TAPESTRY--to illustrate work on a warp not on a web. From Akhmin in
Upper Egypt. Ancient Coptic. (In the Victoria and Albert Museum.)

2. DRAWN-WORK ON FINE LINEN, embroidered with gold and colour. Oriental.
(From the collection of Mrs. Lewis F. Day.)

3. DARNING AND SATIN-STITCH on square mesh--The darning leaf, green,
follows the lines of the stuff; outlined with yellow, veined with pink
and white; stem, yellow, its foliation pink, outlined with white, and
ribbed with blue and white. Italian. 17th century. (V. & A. M.)

4. CROSS-STITCH UPON LINEN. Hungarian. Compare Illustration 45.

5. CROSS-STITCH SAMPLER--A and B, solid; C, line work; D,
stroke-stitch--called also Holbein-stitch; E, stroke and cross stitches

6. CANVAS-STITCH in coloured silk upon linen. The band Italian, the
foliated diaper Oriental. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

7. CANVAS-STITCH--Design comparatively free, but showing in its outline
the influence of the rectangular lines of the weaving. Cretan. (Mrs. L.
F. D.)

8. CANVAS-STITCH SAMPLER--A, tent-stitch; B, half-cross-stitch; C,
cushion-stitch; D, Moorish-stitch, so called; E, plait-stitch; F,
couching on canvas.

9. CUSHION AND SATIN-STITCHES UPON CANVAS--The Satin-stitches follow the
lines of the stuff, and form a diaper built upon them. Compare
Illustration 71.

10. TWO VARIETIES OF CANVAS-STITCH, the pattern in the bare linen, the
background worked--A, plait-stitch, the ornament outlined; B, stitches
drawn tightly together so as to pull the threads of the linen apart,
giving very much the effect of drawn-work. Compare Illustration 2. (Mrs.
L. F. D.)

11. CREWEL-STITCH SAMPLER--A and C, crewel-stitch; B and D,
outline-stitch; E, back-stitch; F, spots; G and H, stem-stitch; J,
crewel and outline-stitches in combination.


13. CREWEL-WORK--the stem only worked in crewel-stitch. Embroidered in
green, blue, and brown wools upon white cotton. Old English. (Coll. of
Miss Argles.)

14. CREWEL-WORK, in which crewel-stitch hardly occurs. Embroidered in
coloured wools upon white cotton. Old English. (Coll. of J. M. Knapp,

15. CREWEL-STITCH IN TWISTED SILK. The scroll in green upon a
brownish-purple ground; the smaller leafage upon the scroll in brighter
green; the flowers and butterflies in blue and pink. Modern. (Mrs. L. F.

16. CHAIN-STITCH AND KNOTS--Part of the same piece of work as
Illustration 24. Indian. (V. & A. M.)

17. CHAIN-STITCH SAMPLER--A, chain-stitch solid and in line; B, magic
stitch; C, church chain; D, cable chain; E, Vandyke chain; F,
Mountmellic chain; G, Mountmellic cable--all so called.


19. CHAIN AND SURFACE STITCHES--the latter a kind of buttonholing, only
occasionally worked _in_to the stuff. Part of a lectern cover in white
thread upon a thin, greyish white linen stuff. German, 14th century. (V.
& A. M.)

20. HERRINGBONE SAMPLER--A, B, C, varieties of herring-bone; D, a
combination of A and C; E, fishbone; F, a close variety of A; G,
tapestry stitch, so called.


22. BUTTONHOLE SAMPLER--A, B, C, ordinary buttonhole and variations upon
it; D, two rows of buttonhole worked slanting one into the other; E,
crossed buttonhole; F, tailor's buttonhole; G, ladder (called also
Cretan) stitch; H, herringbone buttonhole; J, buttonhole diaper.


24. BUTTONHOLE, CHAIN, AND KNOT STITCHES--chiefly in white floss silk on
dark purple satin, with touches of crimson at the points from which the
stitches radiate. The rings on the outer ground are not worked, but done
in the dyeing of the satin. Part of the same piece of work as 16. Modern
Indian from Surat. (V. & A. M.)

25. FEATHER-STITCH SAMPLER--A to G, ordinary feather-stitch and its
variations; G G, feather chain.


27. ORIENTAL-STITCH SAMPLER--A to E, Oriental-stitch and its varieties;
F, Oriental-stitch worked into buttonhole; G, not properly a form of
Oriental-stitch, though bearing some resemblance to it.


29. ROPE AND KNOT-STITCH SAMPLER--A, rope-stitch; B, open rope-stitch;
C, what is called German knot-stitch; D, open German knot-stitch; E, Old
English knot-stitch, so called; F, bullion-stitch; G, French knots.


31. A TOUR-DE-FORCE IN KNOTS--Worked entirely in the one stitch; the
drawing lines expressed by voiding. In white and coloured silks upon a
very dark blue ground. Chinese. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

32. INTERLACING-STITCH SAMPLER--A, Interlaced crewel-stitch; B,
interlaced back-stitch; C, back-stitch twice interlaced; D, interlaced
chain-stitch; E, interlaced darning; F, interlaced herringbone; G,
herringbone twice interlaced; H, an interlaced version of C in
Illustration 20; J, interlaced Oriental-stitch; K, interlaced


34. SURFACE-STITCH SAMPLER--A, D, G, various surface stitches; B,
surface buttonhole; H and C, surface darning; E, Japanese darning, as it
is called; F, net passing; J, surface buttonhole over bars; K, surface
buttonhole over slanting stitches.

35. LACE OR SURFACE-STITCH AND SATIN-STITCH, much of it worn away. In
straw-coloured floss upon pale blue silk. Part of a dress. French. Late
18th century. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

36. SATIN-STITCH SAMPLER--Worked in floss, the stitch in various
directions, to give different effects. Incidentally it shows various
ways of breaking up a surface in satin-stitch. Compare with Illustration
38, which shows the effect of the stitch in twisted silk.



39. SATIN-STITCH IN TWISTED SILK--Outlines voided. Worked in white and
occasional red and yellow upon black satin. Indian. Modern. (V. & A.

40. SATIN-STITCH AND, on the birds' bodies, PLUMAGE-STITCH--The ends of
the stalks worked in French knots; the veins of the leaves in fine white
cords laid on to the satin stitch. The outlines voided, and the voiding
occasionally worked across with stitches wide enough apart to show the
ground between. In white and bright-coloured silk floss upon a black
satin ground. Chinese. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

41. SAMPLER--Showing offshoots from satin and crewel stitches, and
incidentally illustrating various ways of shading. A, crewel-stitch; B,
plumage-stitch, worked in the hand; C, split-stitch; D, plumage-stitch,
worked in the frame.


43. DARNING SAMPLER--Except in the background the stitches follow the
lines of the drawing, regardless of the weaving of the stuff. The
customary outlining of the pattern is here omitted, to show how far it
may, or may not, be needful.

44. DARNING--DESIGNED BY WILLIAM MORRIS. In delicate colours upon a
sea-green ground, outlined with black and white. Part of the border of a
table-cloth, the property of Messrs. Morris & Co.

45. FLAT DARNING--Solid and open, following the lines of a square mesh,
and stepping in tune with it; the outline voided; all in white thread.
Old German. (Gewerbs Museum, Munich.)

46. LAID-WORK SAMPLER, showing various ways (split-stitch and couching)
in which the sewing down may be done, and the various directions it may
take--vertical, horizontal, following the ornamental forms, or crossing

47. LAID-WORK--The couching crosses the flower forms in straight lines;
and in the eye of the flower where the threads cross, the two are sewn
down at a single stitch. The spiral stems a sort of laid cord. Flower in
blue, sewn with blue and outlined with gold; leaves, a bright fresh
green stitched with olive. Japanese. (V. & A. M.)

48. LAID-WORK. The sewing down of the leaves crosses them in curved
lines which suggest roundness. The stem in gold basket pattern. Part of
a coverlet. Worked upon a cedar-coloured ground chiefly in dark blue and
white, the blue couched with white, the white and other colours couched
with red. Indo-Portuguese. 17th century. (V. & A. M.)

49. LAID-WORK AND SOME SURFACE-STITCH. The stitching which sews down the
floss takes the direction of the scroll, &c., and gives drawing. The
surface work in the stems is done upon a ladder of stitches across. Part
of a chalice veil. Italian. Early 17th century. (V. & A. M.)

50. LAID-WORK SAMPLER--The straight lines of laid floss varied in colour
to suggest shading. The stalk padded, and the pattern made by the
stitching upon it thereby emphasised.

51. BULLION AND COUCHED CORD--A, The somewhat loose design of the border
in bullion shows rather plainly the way it is done. B, The solid discs
of spiral cord are unusual, but most characteristic of the method of
couching. The stitches sewing down the cord are not apparent. Oriental.
(Mrs. L. F. D.)

52. SAMPLER OF COUCHED SILK--The broad central band and the narrow
beaded lines are in floss, and show the effect of sewing it more or less
tightly down. The two intermediate bands are in cord couched with
threads in the direction of its twist, not very easily distinguishable
unless by contrast of colour.

53. COUCHING IN LOOPED THREADS--The effect is not unlike that of
chain-stitch or fine knotting. Rather over actual size. Worked in bright
colours upon a pale green crêpe ground. Chinese. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

54. REVERSE COUCHING--Showing on the face of it no sign of couching.
(After the manner of the Syon Cope.)

55. BACK OF REVERSE COUCHING--Showing the parallel lines of couched
linen thread which sew down the silk upon the surface (Illustration 54).
The zigzag pattern of the stitching might equally well have taken other

56. COUCHED GOLD SAMPLER--A, B, C, D, flat work; E, part flat, part
raised; F, G, H, J, basket and other patterns raised over cords.

Silver on pale pink silk. (Coll. of Mrs. T. Buxton Morrish.)

58. GOLD COUCHING IN OPEN THREADS--A, The lines of gold which form a
scale pattern on the dragon's body, are wide enough apart to let the red
ground grin through. Elsewhere the couching, contrary to mediæval
practice, follows the shapes, line within line until they are occupied.
The floss embroidery, in white and colours, is in surface-satin-stitch.
Chinese. B, The open lines of gold look somehow richer than if the metal
had been worked solid upon the crimson ground. Old Venetian. (Mrs. L. F.

59. COUCHED OUTLINE WORK; only an occasional detail worked solid;
suggests damascening. The border is in gold, the filling in silver,
thread on a greyish-green velvet. Part of an Italian housing or
saddlecloth. 16th century. (V. & A. M.)

60. APPLIQUÉ--Satin upon velvet, outlined with two threads of gold

61. APPLIQUÉ PANEL--Designed and executed by Miss Mabel Keighley,
illustrating a poem by William Morris. (The property of the artist.)

crimson velvet. The outline, which is in gold, falls chiefly upon the
yellow, so as not to disturb the exact balance of light and dark, which
it is essential to preserve in counter-change. Part of a stole. Spanish.
16th century (V. & A. M.)

    B. APPLIQUÉ, of deep crimson velvet upon white
satin, outlined with paler red cord. The outlines, meeting together,
form a stem of double cord. Italian. 17th century. (V. & A. M.)

63. APPLIQUÉ, with couched outline, and stitching upon the appliqué band
or ribbon. The dots in the centre of the grapes are French knots. The
pattern is in satin of various colours, upon a figured green silk
damask, outlined with yellow silk sewn down with yellow. Italian. (V. &
A. M.)

64. INLAY IN COLOURED CLOTHS, outlined with chain stitch. Magic stitch
also occurs. A characteristic example of the kind of work done at
Retsht, in Persia. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

65. CUT-WORK IN LINEN--A fret of this kind was often outlined with
coloured silk, and the detail within the fretted outline further
embroidered in coloured silk. (Coll. of Mrs. Drake.)

66. SAMPLER OF RAISED WORK, showing underlays: A, of cloth; B, of
twisted cords; C, of parchment; D, of cotton wool; E, first of cotton
cord and then of cotton thread; F, of cord; G, of string; H, of sewing.

67. RAISED WORK, showing underlay of linen, and the way it is sewn
down--The work is in flax thread, red, yellow, and white, upon a blue
linen ground. The stem is dotted with white beads, the ground with gold
spangles. Part of an altar frontal. German. 15th century. (V. & A. M.)

68. RAISED GOLD BASKET PATTERNS, &c., upon white satin. The stalk in
flat wire. Spanish. 17th century. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

69. QUILT, WORKED IN CHAIN-STITCH from the back--which has precisely the
effect of back-stitch. Yellow silk upon white linen. Old English. (V. &
A. M.)

70. RAISED QUILTING, in black silk upon pale sea-green satin. Part of
the border of a prayer cushion. Old Persian. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

canvas-stitch and satin-stitch. The leafage is in tent-stitch. Compare
with Illustration 9. (V. & A. M.)

72. STITCHES IN COMBINATION--Among them Oriental, ladder, buttonhole,
chain, crewel, satin, and herringbone stitches, worked in dark blue silk
upon unbleached linen. Old Cretan, so called. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

73. FINE NEEDLEWORK UPON CAMBRIC--the substance of which is apparent
upon the upper edge of the work. In the ground-work of the pattern
generally the threads are drawn together to form an open net. The
stitches occurring in the collar of which this is part are, buttonhole,
satin, chain, herringbone, cross, and back stitches. The outline is
mostly in fine cross-stitch. Nothing could exceed the delicacy of the
workmanship, which is in its kind perfect. Old English. (Coll. of Col.
Green, R.E.)

74. PART OF A DESIGN BY WALTER CRANE, cunningly adapted to execution in
needlework. Shows the direction of the stitch, and the part it can be
made to play in expressing form. Worked in coloured silks upon linen by
Mrs. Walter Crane, whose property the work is.

75. SHADING IN CHAIN-STITCH in silk and chenille upon a satin ground.
The shading very deliberately schemed by the designer. In natural
colours upon white. French. Louis Seize. (V. & A. M.)

76. SHADING IN SHORT STITCHES; picturesque to the point of a touch of
white in the glistening yellow of the dove's eye. Chenille, in
chain-stitch, is used for the wreath and in the leaves of the flower
sprigs. These are in colours, the birds are in silvery greys, all on a
white satin ground. French. Louis Seize. (V. & A. M.)

expression of form than to neatness of execution. German. 16th century.
(V. & A. M.)

78. CHAIN-STITCH, showing in the figures of the little men what a
draughtsman can express in a few stitches. Full size. Chinese. (Mrs. L.
F. D.)

79. FIGURE WORK--The flesh in straight upright stitches, the drapery
laid and couched. English. 15th century. (V. & A. M.)

80. CONSUMMATE FIGURE EMBROIDERY--Canvas ground entirely covered. Flesh
in coloured silks, short-stitch; drapery coloured silks over gold, which
only gleams through in the lighter parts. Architecture closely couched
gold. Part of an orphrey. Florentine. 16th century. (V. & A. M.)

81. CHINESE FIGURES--The flesh in short satin-stitches, the rest in
chain-stitch; chiefly in blue and white upon a figured white silk
ground. About actual size. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

82. SATIN-STITCH, showing the influence of its direction upon the tone
of colour. The pattern is all in one shade of yellow-brown floss upon
white linen. The outline steps with the weaving, and so shows connection
between satin and canvas stitches. Italian, 17th century. (V. & A. M.)

83. MEANINGLESS DIRECTION OF STITCH--Satin and herring-bone stitches.
From an altar-cloth. German. 17th century. (V. & A. M.)

84. MORE EXPRESSIVE LINES OF STITCHING--To compare with Illustration 83.

85. SATIN AND PLUMAGE STITCHES chiefly, the bird's crest in French
knots, the clouds about him in knotted braid. The direction of the
stitch is most artfully chosen, and the precision of the work is
faultless. The satin ground is of brilliant orange-red; the crane,
white, with black tail feathers, scarlet crest, and yellow beak and
legs; the clouds, black and white and blue. Japanese. (Mrs. L. F. D.)

relief, upon pale blue satin, with touches of pink and crimson silk to
give emphasis. Spanish. 18th century. Compare the stem with Illustration
66, B. (V. & A. M.)

87. GOTHIC CHURCH WORK--The flesh, &c., in split-stitch; the vine-leaves
green, getting yellower as it nears the crimson silk ground. Part of a
cope embroidered with a representation of the Tree of Jesse. English.
Ca. 1340. (V. & A. M.)

88. MODERN CHURCH WORK ON LINEN, in long-and-short stitch. Veins padded
with embroidery cotton and worked over with two threads of filo-floss, a
green and a blue; the rest of the leaves worked in one shade of stout
floss. All this applied to velvet with a couching of brown filoselle,
and the tendrils added. Designed and executed by Miss C. P. Shrewsbury.
(The property of the artist.)

89. SIMPLE STITCHING ON LINEN, the broader bands in a canvas stitch in
yellow, the finer lines in back-stitch in pale grey silk. Italian. (Mrs.
L. F. D.)

90. SIMPLE COUCHED OUTLINE WORK, in purplish silk cord upon linen. Part
of an altar-cloth. Italian. 16th century. (V. & A. M.)

91. RENAISSANCE ORNAMENT--Most gracefully designed arabesque. The raised
outline (couched) has somewhat the effect of cloisons, the satin-stitch
(in colours) of brilliant enamel. It is upon a white satin ground. The
foreshortened face in the picture is _painted_ upon satin. Italian. Ca.
1700. (V. & A. M.)

92. APPLIQUÉ DESIGN, in yellow satin upon crimson velvet--Double
outline; next the red, white, sewn with pale blue; next the yellow,
gold. Midrib of the leaf couched silver. Spanish, 16th century. (V. & A.

93. SATIN-STITCH--except that the heart-shaped features at the base and
the lily-shaped flowers, of which only the tips are shown, are outlined
with fine white cord. Part of a fan, worked by Miss Buckle, from a
design by L. F. D. (The property of the worker.)

94. LEATHER APPLIQUÉ UPON VELVET--The stitching well within the edge of
the leather.


Page 30. Diagram belongs to G (Stem-Stitch) described on page 32, not C
(Thick Crewel-Stitch).

Page 125, 2nd line. For "lower" read "upper."



Embroidery begins with the needle, and the needle (thorn, fish-bone, or
whatever it may have been) came into use so soon as ever savages had the
wit to sew skins and things together to keep themselves warm--modesty,
we may take it, was an afterthought--and if the stitches made any sort
of pattern, as coarse stitching naturally would, that was _embroidery_.

The term is often vaguely used to denote all kinds of ornamental
needlework, and some with which the needle has nothing to do. That is
misleading; though it is true that embroidery does touch, on the one
side, _tapestry_, which may be described as a kind of embroidery with
the shuttle, and, on the other, _lace_, which is needlework pure and
simple, construction "in the air" as the Italian name has it.

The term is used in common parlance to express any kind of superficial
or superfluous ornamentation. A poet is said to embroider the truth.
But such metaphorical use of the word hints at the real nature of the
work--embellishment, enrichment, _added_. If added, there must first of
all be something it is added _to_--the material, that is to say, on
which the needlework is done. In weaving (even tapestry weaving) the
pattern is got by the inter-threading of warp and weft. In lace, too, it
is got out of the threads which make the stuff. In embroidery it is got
by threads worked _on_ a fabric first of all woven on the loom, or, it
might be, netted.

There is inevitably a certain amount of overlapping of the crafts. For
instance, take a form of embroidery common in all countries, Eastern,
Hungarian, or nearer home, in which certain of the weft threads of the
linen are _drawn out_, and the needlework is executed upon the warp
threads thus revealed. This is, strictly speaking, a sort of tapestry
with the needle, just as, it was explained, tapestry itself may be
described as a sort of embroidery with the shuttle. That will be clearly
seen by reference to Illustration 1, which shows a fragment of ancient
tapestry found in a Coptic tomb in Upper Egypt. In the lower portion of
it the pattern appears light on dark. As a matter of fact, it was
wrought in white and red upon a linen warp; but, as it happened, only
the white threads were of linen, like the warp, the red were woollen,
and in the course of fifteen hundred years or so much of this red wool
has perished, leaving the white pattern intact on the warp, the
threads of which are laid bare in the upper part of the illustration.

[Illustration: 1. TAPESTRY, SHOWING WARP.]

It is on just such upright lines of warp that all tapestry, properly so
called, is worked--whether with the shuttle or with the needle makes no
matter--and there is good reason, therefore, for the name of "tapestry
stitch" to describe needlework upon the warp threads only of a material
(usually linen) from which some of the weft threads have been

The only difference between true tapestry and drawn work, an example of
which is here given, is, that the one is done on a warp that has not
before been woven upon, and the other on a warp from which the weft
threads have been _drawn_. The distinction, therefore, between tapestry
and embroidery is, that, worked on a warp, as in Illustration 1, it is
tapestry; worked on a mesh, as in Illustration 3, it is embroidery.

[Illustration: 2. DRAWN WORK.]

With regard, again, to lace. That is itself a web, independent of any
groundwork or foundation to support it. But it is possible to work it
_over_ a silken or other surface; and there is a kind of embroidery
which only floats on the surface of the material without penetrating it.
A fragment of last century silk given in Illustration 35 shows plainly
what is meant.

[Illustration: 3. STITCHING ON A SQUARE MESH.]

Embroidery is enrichment by means of the needle. To embroider is to work
_on_ something: a groundwork is presupposed. And we usually understand
by embroidery, needlework in thread (it may be wool, cotton, linen,
silk, gold, no matter what) upon a textile material, no matter what. In
short, it is the decoration of a material woven in thread by means still
of thread. It is thus _the_ consistent way of ornamenting stuff--most
consistent of all when one kind of thread is employed throughout, as in
the case of linen upon linen, silk upon silk. The enrichment may,
however, rightly be, and oftenest is, perhaps, in a material nobler than
the stuff enriched, in silk upon linen, in wool upon cotton, in gold
upon velvet. The advisability of working upon a precious stuff in thread
_less_ precious is open to question. It does not seem to have been
satisfactorily done; but if it were only the background that was worked,
and the pattern were so schemed as almost to cover it, so that, in fact,
very little of the more beautiful texture was sacrificed, and you had
still a sumptuous pattern on a less attractive background--why not? But
then it would be because you wanted that less precious texture there.
The excuse of economy would scarcely hold good.

In the case of a material in itself unsightly, the one course is to
cover it entirely with stitching, as did the Persian and other
untireable people of the East. But not they only. The famous Syon cope
is so covered. Much of the work so done, all-over work that is to say,
competes in effect with tapestry or other weaving; and its purpose was
similar: it is a sort of amateur way of working your own stuff. But in
character it is no more nearly related to the work of the loom than
other needlework--it is still work _on_ stuff. For all-over embroidery
one chooses, naturally, a coarse canvas ground to work on; but it more
often happens that one chooses canvas because one means to cover it,
than that one works all over a ground because it is unpresentable.

Embroidery is merely an affair of stitching; and the first thing needful
alike to the worker in it and the designer for it is, a thorough
acquaintance with the stitches; not, of course, with every modification
of a modification of a stitch which individual ingenuity may have
devised--it would need the space of an encyclopædia to chronicle them
all--but with the broadly marked varieties of stitch which have been
employed to best purpose in ornament.

They are derived, naturally, from the stitches first used for quite
practical and prosaic purposes--buttonhole stitch, for example, to keep
the edges of the stuff from fraying; herring-bone, to strengthen and
disguise a seam; darning, to make good a worn surface; and so on.

The difficulty of discussing them is greatly increased by the haphazard
way in which they are commonly named. A stitch is called Greek, Spanish,
Mexican, or what not, according to the country whence came the work in
which some one first found it. Each names it after his or her individual
discovery, or calls it, perhaps, vaguely Oriental; and so we have any
number of names for the same stitch, names which to different people
stand often for quite different stitches.

When this confusion is complicated by the invention of a new name for
every conceivable combination of thread-strokes, or for each slightest
variation upon an old stitch, and even for a stitch worked from left to
right instead of from right to left, or for a stitch worked rather
longer than usual, the task of reducing them to order seems almost

Nor do the quasi-learned descriptions of old stitches help us much. One
reads about _opus_ this and _opus_ that, until one begins to wonder
where, amidst all this parade of science, art comes in. But you have not
far to go in the study of the authorities to discover that, though they
may concur in using certain high-sounding Latin terms, they are not of
the same mind as to their meaning. In one thing they all agree, foreign
writers as well as English, and that is, as to the difficulty of
identifying the stitch referred to by ancient writers, themselves
probably not acquainted with the _technique_ of stitching, and as likely
as not to call it by a wrong name. It is easier, for example, to talk of
_Opus Anglicanum_ than to say precisely what it was, further than that
it described work done in England; and for that we have the simple
word--English. There is nothing to show that mediæval English work
contained stitches not used elsewhere. The stitches probably all come
from the East.

Nomenclature, then, is a snare. Why not drop titles, and call stitches
by the plainest and least mistakable names? It will be seen, if we
reduce them to their native simplicity, that they fall into
fairly-marked groups, or families, which can be discussed each under its
own head.

Stitches may be grouped in all manner of arbitrary ways--according to
their provenance, according to their effect, according to their use, and
so on. The most natural way of grouping them is according to their
structure; not with regard to whence they came, or what they do, but
according to what they are, the way they are worked. This, at all
events, is no arbitrary classification, and this is the plan it is
proposed here to adopt.

The use of such classification hardly needs pointing out.

A survey of the stitches is the necessary preliminary, either to the
design or to the execution of needlework. How else suit the design to
the stitch, the stitch to the design? In order to do the one the artist
must be quite at home among the stitches; in order to do the other the
embroidress must have sympathy enough with a design to choose the stitch
or stitches which will best render it. An artist who thinks the working
out of his sketch none of his business is no practical designer; the
worker who thinks design a thing apart from her is only a worker.

This is not the moment to urge upon the needlewoman the study of design,
but to urge upon the designer the study of stitches. Nothing is more
impractical than to make a design without realising the labour involved
in its execution. Any one not in sympathy with stitching may possibly
design a beautiful piece of needlework, but no one will get all that is
to be got out of the needle without knowing all about it. One must
understand the ways in which work can be done in order to determine the
way it shall in any particular case be done.

Certain stitches answer certain purposes, and strictly only those. The
designer must know which stitch answers which purpose, or he will in the
first place waste the labour of the embroidress, and in the second miss
his effect, which is to waste his own pains too. The effective worker
(designer or embroiderer) is the one who works with judgment--and you
cannot judge unless you know. When it is remembered that the character
of needlework, and by rights also the character of its design, depends
upon the stitch, there will be no occasion to insist further upon the
necessity of a comprehensive survey of the stitches.

A stitch may be defined as the thread left on the surface of the cloth
or what not, after each ply of the needle.

And the simple straightforward stitches of this kind are not so many as
one might suppose. They may be reduced indeed to a comparatively few
types, as will be seen in the following chapters.


The simplest, as it is most likely the earliest used, stitch-group is
what might best be called CANVAS stitch--of which cross-stitch is
perhaps the most familiar type, the class of stitches which come of
following, as it is only natural to do, the mesh of a coarse canvas,
net, or open web upon which the work is done.

A stitch bears always, or should bear, some relation to the material on
which it is worked; but canvas or very coarse linen almost compels a
stitch based upon the cross lines of its woof, and indeed suggests
designs of equally rigid construction. That is so in embroidery no
matter where. In ancient Byzantine or Coptic work, in modern Cretan
work, and in peasant embroidery all the world over, pattern work on
coarse linen has run persistently into angular lines--in which, because
of that very angularity, the plain outcome of a way of working, we find
artistic character. Artistic design is always expressive of its mode of

Work of this kind is not too lightly to be dismissed. There is art in
the rendering of form by means of angular outlines, art in the choice
of forms which can be expressed by such lines. It is not uncharitable
to surmise that one reason why such work (once so universal and now
quite out of fashion) is not popular with needlewomen may be, the demand
it makes upon the designer's draughtmanship: it is much easier, for
example, to draw a stag than to render the creature satisfactorily
within jagged lines determined by a linen mesh.

[Illustration: 4. CROSS-STITCH.]

The piquancy about natural or other forms thus reduced to angularity
argues, of course, no affectation of quaintness on the part of the
worker, but was the unavoidable outcome of her way of work. There is a
pronounced and early limit to art of this rather naïve kind, but that
there is art in some of the very simplest and most modest peasant work
built up on those lines no artist will deny. The art in it is usually in
proportion to its modesty. Nothing is more futile than to put it to
anything like pictorial purpose. The wonderfully wrought pictures in
tent-stitch, for example, bequeathed to us by the 17th century, are
painful object lessons in what not to do.

The origin of the term cross-stitch is not far to seek: the stitches
worked upon the square mesh do cross. But, falling naturally into the
lines of the mesh which governs them, they present not so much the
appearance of crosses as of squares, reminding one of the tesseræ
employed in mosaic.


To explain the process of working cross-stitch would be teaching one's
grandmother indeed. It is simply, as its name implies, crossing one
stitch by another, following always the lines of the canvas. But the
important thing about it is that the stitches must cross always in the
same way; and, more than that, they must be worked in the same
direction, or the mere fact that the stitches at the _back_ of the work
do not run in the same way will disturb the evenness of the surface.
What looks like a seam on the sampler opposite is the result of filling
up a gap in the ground with stitches necessarily worked in vertical,
whereas the ground generally is in horizontal, lines. On the face of the
work the stitches cross all in the same way.

The common use of cross-stitch and the somewhat geometric kind of
pattern to which it lends itself are shown in the sampler, Illustration

The broad and simple leafage, worked solid (A) or left in the plain
canvas upon a groundwork of solid stitching (B), and the fretted
diaper on vertical and horizontal lines (C), show the most
straightforward ways of using it.

[Illustration: 5. CROSS-STITCH SAMPLER.]

The criss-cross of alternating cross-stitches and open canvas framed by
the key pattern (C) shows a means of getting something like a tint
halfway between solid work and plain ground. The mere work line--or
"stroke-stitch," not crossed (D), is a perfectly fair way of getting a
delicate effect; but the design has a way of working out rather less
happily than it promised.

The addition of such stroke-stitches to solid cross-stitch (E) is not at
best a very happy device. It strikes one always as a confession of
dissatisfaction on the part of the worker with the simple means of her
choice. As a device for, as it were, correcting the stepped outline it
is at its worst. Timid workers are always afraid of the stepped outline
which a coarse mesh gives. In that they are wrong. One should employ
canvas stitch only where there is no objection to a line which keeps
step with the canvas; then there is a positive charm (for frank people
at least) in the frank confession of the way the work is done.

There are many degrees in the frankness with which this convention has
been accepted, according perhaps to the coarseness of the canvas ground,
perhaps to the personality of the worker. The animal forms at the top of
Illustration 6 are uncompromisingly square; the floral devices on the
same page, though they fall, as it were inevitably, into square lines,
are less rigidly formal. The inevitableness of the square line is
apparent in the sprig below (7). It was evidently meant to be freely
drawn, but the influence of the mesh betrays itself; and the design, if
it loses something in grace, gains also thereby in character.

[Illustration: 6. CANVAS-STITCH.]

[Illustration: 7. CANVAS-STITCH.]

There is literally no end to the variety of stitches, as they are
called, belonging to this group, and their names are a babel of
confusion. Florentine, Parisian, Hungarian, Spanish, Moorish, Cashmere,
Milanese, Gobelin, are only a few of them; but they stand, as a rule,
rather for stitch arrangements than for stitches. A small selection of
them is given in Illustration 8.

[Sidenote: TENT-STITCH A.]

What is known as tent-stitch (A in the sampler opposite) is a sort of
half cross-stitch; its peculiarity is that it covers only one thread of
the canvas at a stroke, and is therefore on a more minute scale than
stitches which are two or three threads wide, as cross-stitch may, and
cushion-stitch must, be. It derives its name from the old word tenture,
or tenter (_tendere_, to stretch), the frame on which the embroidress
distended her canvas. The word has gone out of use, but we still speak
of tenter-hooks. The stitch is serviceable enough in its way, but is
discredited by the monstrous abuse of it referred to already. A picture
in tent-stitch is even more foolish than a picture in mosaic. It cannot
come anywhere near to pictorial effect; the tesseræ will pronounce
themselves, and spoil it.

[Illustration: 8. CANVAS-STITCH SAMPLER.]


[Sidenote: CROSS-STITCH B.]

This kind of half cross-stitch worked on the larger scale of ordinary
cross-stitch would look meagre. It is filled out, therefore (B), by
horizontal lines of the thread laid across the canvas, and over these
the stitch is worked.


Cushion-stitch consists of diagonal lines of upright stitches, measuring
in the sampler (C) six threads of the canvas, so that after each stitch
the needle may be brought out just three threads lower than where it was
put in. By working in zigzag instead of diagonal lines, a familiar
pattern is produced, more often described as "Florentine;" but the
stitch is in any case the same.

[Sidenote: CANVAS-STITCH D.]

The stitch at D (sometimes called Moorish stitch) is begun by working a
row of short vertical stitches, slightly apart, and completed by
diagonal stitches joining them.

Unless the silk employed is full and soft, this may not completely cover
the canvas, in which case the diagonal stitches must further be crossed
as shown on Illustration 89.

If the linen is loosely woven and the thread is tightly drawn in the
working, the mesh is pulled apart, giving the effect of an open lattice
of the kind shown at B, on Illustration 10, in which the threads of the
linen are not drawn out but drawn together.

[Sidenote: CANVAS-STITCH E.]

The way of working the stitch at E is described on page 51, under the
name of "fish-bone." Worked on canvas it has somewhat the effect of
plaiting, and goes by the name of "plait-stitch." It is worked in
horizontal rows alternately from left to right and from right to left.

[Sidenote: CANVAS-STITCH F.]

The stitch at F is a sort of couching (see page 124). Diagonal lines of
thread are first laid from edge to edge of the ground space, and these
are sewn down by short overcasting stitches in the cross direction.

Admirable canvas stitch work has been done upon linen in silk of one
colour--red, green, or blue--and it was a common practice to
work the background leaving the pattern in the bare stuff. It
prevailed in countries lying far apart, though probably not without
inter-communication. In fact, the influence of Oriental work upon
European has been so great that even experts hesitate sometimes to say
whether a particular piece of work is Turkish or Italian. In Italian
work, at least, it was usual to get over the angularity of silhouette
inherent in canvas stitches by working an outline separately. When that
is thin, the effect is proportionately feeble. The broader outline
(shown at A, Illustration 10) justifies itself, and in the case of a
stitch which falls into horizontal lines, it appears to be necessary.
This is plait stitch, known also by the name of Spanish stitch--not that
it is in any way peculiar to Spain. It is allied to herring-bone-stitch,
to which a special chapter is devoted.


Darning is also employed as a canvas stitch. There is beautiful 16th
century Italian work (in coloured silks on dark net of the very open
square mesh of the period), which is most effective, and in which there
is no pretence of disguising the stepped outline; and in the very early
days of Christian art in Egypt and Byzantium, linen was darned in little
square tufts of wool upstanding on its surface, which look so much like
the tesseræ of mosaic that it seems as if they must have been worked in
deliberate imitation of it.

Again, in the 15th century satin-stitch was worked on fine linen with
strict regard to the lines of its web; and the Persians, ancient and
modern, embroider white silk upon linen, also in satin-stitch,
preserving piously the rectangular and diagonal lines given by the
material. They have their reward in producing most characteristic
needlework. The diapered ground in Illustration 9 (page 20) is
satin-stitch upon coarse linen.

The filling-in patterns used to such delicate and dainty purpose in the
marvellous work on fine cambric (Illustration 73) which competes in
effect with lace, though it is strictly embroidery, all follow in their
design the lines of the fabric, and are worked thread by thread
according to its woof: they afford again instances of perfect adaptation
of stitch to material and of design to stitch.

Satin and other stitches were worked by the old Italians (Illustration
3) on square-meshed canvas, frankly on the square lines given by it, for
the filling in of ornamental details, though the outline might be much
less formal. That is to say, the surface of freely-drawn leaves, &c.,
instead of being worked solid, was diapered over with more or less open
pattern work constructed on the lines of the weaving.

A cunning use of the square mesh of canvas has sometimes been made to
guide the worker upon other fabrics, such as velvet. This was first
faced with net: the design was then worked, over that, on to and into
the velvet, and the threads of the canvas were then drawn out. That is a
device which may serve on occasion. The design may even be traced upon
the net.


For work in the hand, CREWEL-STITCH is perhaps, on the whole, the
easiest and most useful of stitches; whence it comes that people
sometimes vaguely call all embroidery crewel work; though, as a matter
of fact, the stitch properly so called was never very commonly employed,
even when the work was done in "crewel," the double thread of twisted
wool from which it takes its name.


[Illustration: 11. CREWEL-STITCH SAMPLER.]

[Illustration: 12. CREWEL-STITCH SAMPLER (BACK).]

[Sidenote: TO WORK A.]

CREWEL-STITCH proper is shown at A on the sampler opposite, where it is
used for line work. It is worked as follows:--Having made a start in the
usual way, keep your thread downwards under your left thumb and below
your needle--that is, to the right; then take up with the needle, say
1/8th of an inch of the stuff, and bring it out through the hole made in
starting the stitch, taking care not to pierce the thread. This gives
the first half stitch. If you proceed in the same way your next stitch
will be full length. The test of good workmanship is that at the back it
should look like back-stitch (Illustration 12), described on page 30.


[Sidenote: TO WORK B.]

OUTLINE-STITCH (B on sampler) differs from crewel-stitch only in that
the thread is always kept upwards above the needle, that is to the left.
In so doing the thread is apt to untwist itself, and wants constantly
re-twisting. The stitch is useful for single lines and for outlining
solid work. The muddled effect of much crewel work is due to the
confusion of this stitch with crewel-stitch proper.

[Sidenote: TO WORK C.]

THICK CREWEL-STITCH (C on sampler) is only a little wider than ordinary
crewel-stitch, but gives a heavier line, in higher relief. In effect it
resembles rope-stitch, but it is more simply worked. You begin as in
ordinary crewel-stitch, but after the first half-stitch you take up
1/8th of an inch of the material in advance of the last stitch, and
bring out your needle at the point where the first half-stitch began.
You proceed, always putting your needle in 1/8th of an inch in front of,
and bringing it out 1/8th of an inch behind, the last stitch, so as to
have always 1/4th of an inch of the stuff on your needle.


[Sidenote: TO WORK D.]

THICK OUTLINE-STITCH (D on sampler) is like thick crewel-stitch with the
exception that, as in ordinary outline-stitch (B), you keep your thread
always above the needle to the left.

[Sidenote: TO WORK E.]

In BACK-STITCH (E), instead of first bringing the needle out at the
point where the embroidery is to begin, you bring it out 1/8th of an
inch in advance of it. Then, putting your needle back, you take up this
1/8th together with another 1/8th in advance. For the next stitch you
put your needle into the hole made by the last stitch, and so on, taking
care not to split the last thread in so doing.

[Sidenote: TO WORK F.]

To work the SPOTS (F) on sampler--having made a back-stitch, bring your
needle out through the same hole as before, and make another back-stitch
above it, so that you have, in what appears to be one stitch, two
thicknesses of thread; then bring your needle out some distance in
advance of the last stitch, and proceed as before. The distance between
the stitches is determined by the effect you desire to produce. The
thread should not be drawn too tight.


[Sidenote: TO WORK G.]

You begin STEM-STITCH (G) with the usual half-stitch. Then, holding the
thread downwards, instead of proceeding as in crewel-stitch (A) you
slant your needle so as to bring it out a thread or two higher up than
the half-stitch, but precisely above it. You next put the needle in
1/8th of an inch in advance of the last stitch, and, as before, bring it
out again in a slanting direction a thread or two higher. At the back of
the work (Illustration 12) the stitches lie in a slanting direction.

[Sidenote: TO WORK H.]

To work wider STEM-STITCH (H). After the first two stitches, bring your
needle out precisely above and in a line with them, and put it in again
1/8th of an inch in advance of the last stitch, producing a longer
stroke, which gives the measure of those following. The slanting
stitches at the back (Illustration 12) are only two-thirds of the length
of those on the face.

CREWEL AND OUTLINE STITCHES worked (J) side by side give somewhat the
effect of a braid. The importance of not confusing them, already
referred to, is here apparent.

CREWEL-STITCH is worked SOLID in the heart-shape in the centre of the
sampler. On the left side the rows of stitching follow the outline of
the heart; on the right they are more upright, merely conforming a
little to the shape to be filled. This is the better method.



The way to work solid crewel-stitch will be best explained by an
instance. Suppose a leaf to be worked. You begin by outlining it; if it
is a wide leaf, you further work a centre line where the main rib would
be, and then work row within row of stitches until the space is filled.
If on arriving at the point of your leaf, instead of going round the
edge, you work back by the side of the first row of stitching, there
results a streakiness of texture, apparent in the stem on Illustration
13. What you get is, in effect, a combination of crewel and outline
stitches, as at J, which in the other case only occurs in the centre of
the shape where the files of stitches meet.

To represent shading in crewel-stitch, to which it is admirably suited
(A, Illustration 41), it is well to work from the darkest shadows to the
highest lights. And it is expedient to map out on the stuff the outline
of the space to be covered by each shade of thread. There is no
difficulty then in working round that shape, as above explained.

In solid crewel the stitches should quite cover the ground without
pressing too closely one against the other.


It does not seem that Englishwomen of the 17th century were ever very
faithful to the stitch we know by the name of crewel. Old examples of
work done entirely in crewel-stitch, as distinguished from what is
called crewel work, are seldom if ever to be met with. The stitch occurs
in most of the old English embroidery in wool; but it is astonishing,
when one comes to examine the quilts and curtains of a couple of hundred
years or so ago, how very little of the woolwork on them is in
crewel-stitch. The detail on Illustration 13 was chosen because it
contained more of it than any other equal portion of a handsome and
typical English hanging; but it is only in the main stem, and in some of
the outlines, that the stitch is used. And that appears to have been the
prevailing practice--to use crewel-stitch for stems and outlines, and
for little else but the very simplest forms. The filling in of the
leafage, the diapering within the leaf shapes, and the smaller and more
elaborate details generally were done in long-and-short-stitch, or
whatever came handiest. In fact, the thing to be represented, fruit,
berry, flower, or what not, seems to have suggested the stitch, which it
must be confessed was sometimes only a sort of scramble to get an

Of course the artist always chooses her stitch, and she is free to alter
it as occasion may demand; but a good workwoman (and the embroidress is
a needlewoman first and an artist afterwards, perhaps) adopts in every
case a method, and departs from it only for very good reason. It looks
as if our ancestors had set to work without system or guiding principle
at all. No doubt they got a bold and striking effect in their
bed-hangings and the like; but there is in their work a lack of that
conscious aim which goes to make art. Theirs is art of the rather
artless sort which is just now so popular. Happily it was kept in the
way it should go by a strict adherence to traditional pattern, which for
the time being seems to have gone completely out of fashion.

Quite in the traditional manner is Illustration 14. One would fancy at
first sight that the work was almost entirely in crewel-stitch. As a
matter of fact, there is little which answers to the name, as an
examination of the back of the work shows plainly enough. What the
stitches are it is not easy to say. The mystery of many a stitch is to
be unravelled only by literally picking out the threads, which one is
not always at liberty to do, although, in the ardour of research, a keen
embroidress will do it--not without remorse in the case of beautiful
work, but relentlessly all the same.

The only piece of embroidery entirely in crewel-stitch which I could
find for illustration (15) is worked, as it happens, in silk; nor was
the worker aware that in so working she was doing anything out of the
common. Another instance of crewel-stitch is given in the divided skirt,
let us call it, of the personage in Illustration 72.

Beautiful back-stitching occurs in the Italian work on Illustration 89,
and the stitch is used for sewing down the _appliqué_ in Illustration


[Illustration: 16. CHAIN-STITCH AND KNOTS.]

CHAIN and TAMBOUR STITCH are in effect practically the same, and present
the same rather granular surface. The difference between them is that
chain-stitch is done in the hand with an ordinary needle, and
tambour-stitch in a frame with a hook sharper at the turning point than
an ordinary crochet hook. One takes it rather for granted that work
which was presumably done in the hand (a large quilt, for example) is
chain-stitch, and that what seems to have been done in a frame is
tambour work, though it is possible, but not advisable of course, to
work chain-stitch in a frame.

Chain-stitch is not to be confounded with split-stitch (see page 105),
which somewhat resembles it.

[Illustration: 17. CHAIN-STITCH SAMPLER.]

[Illustration: 18. CHAIN-STITCH SAMPLER (BACK).]

[Sidenote: TO WORK A.]

To work chain-stitch (A on the sampler, Illustration 17) bring the
needle out, hold the thread down with the left thumb, put the needle
in again at the hole through which you brought it out, take up 1/4 of an
inch of stuff, and draw the thread through: that gives you the first
link of the chain. The back of the work (18) looks like back-stitch. In
fact, in the quilted coverlet, Illustration 69 (as in much similar work
of the period), the outline pattern, which you might take for
back-stitching, proves to have been worked from the back in
chain-stitch. The same thing occurs in the case of the Persian quilt in
Illustration 70.

[Sidenote: TO WORK B.]

A playful variation upon chain-stitch (B on the sampler, Illustration
17) is effected by the use of two threads of different colour. Take in
your needle a dark and a light thread, say the dark one to the left, and
bring them out at the point at which your work begins. Hold the dark
thread under your thumb, and, keeping the light one to the right, well
out of the way, draw both threads through; this makes a dark link; the
light thread disappears, and comes out again to the left of the dark
one, ready to be held under the thumb while you make a light link. This
"magic stitch," as it has been called, is no new invention. It is to be
found in Persian, Indian, and Italian Renaissance work. An instance of
it occurs in Illustration 64.

[Sidenote: TO WORK C.]

A variety of chain-stitch (C on the sampler, Illustration 17) used often
in church work, more solid in appearance, the links not being so open,
is rather differently done. Begin a little in advance of the starting
point of your work, hold the thread under your thumb, put the needle in
again at the starting point slightly to the left, bring your needle out
about 1/8th of an inch below where it first went in but precisely on the
same line, and you have the first link of your chain.

[Sidenote: TO WORK D.]

To work what is known as cable-chain (D on the sampler, Illustration 17)
keep your thread to the right, put in your needle, pointing downwards, a
little below the starting point, and bring it out about 1/4th of an inch
below where you put it in; then put it through the little stitch just
formed, from right to left, hold your thread towards the left under your
thumb, put your needle through the stitch now in process of making from
right to left, draw up the thread, and the first two links of your chain
are made.

[Sidenote: TO WORK E.]

A zigzag chain, of a rather fancy description, goes by the name of
Vandyke chain (E on the sampler, Illustration 17). To make it, bring
your needle out at a point which is to be the left edge of your work,
and make a slanting chain-stitch from left to right; then, putting your
needle into that, make another slanting stitch, this time from right to
left--and so to and fro to the end.

[Sidenote: TO WORK F.]

The braid-stitch shown at F on the sampler (Illustration 17) is worked
as follows, horizontally from right to left. Bring your needle out at a
point which is to be the lower edge of your work, throw your thread
round to the left, and, keeping it all the time loosely under your
thumb, put your needle under the thread and twist it once round to the
right. Then, at the upper edge of your work, put in the needle and slide
the thread towards the right, bring the needle out exactly below where
you put it in, carry your thread under the needle towards the left, draw
the thread tight, and your first stitch is done.


[Sidenote: TO WORK G.]

A yet more fanciful variety of braid-stitch (G on the sampler,
Illustration 17) is worked vertically, downwards. Having, as before, put
your needle under the thread and twisted it once round, put it in at a
point which is to be the left edge of your work, and, instead of
bringing it out immediately below that point, slant it to the right,
bringing it out on that edge of the work, and finish your stitch as in
the case of F.

These braid-stitches look best worked in stout thread of close texture.

In covering a surface with chain-stitch (needlework or tambour) the
usual plan is to follow the contour of the design, working chain within
chain until the leaf or whatever it may be is filled in. This stitch is
rarely worked in lines across the forms, but it has been effectively
used in that way, following always the lines of the warp and weft of the
stuff. Even in that case the successive lines of stitching should be all
in one direction--not running backwards and forwards--or it will result
in a sort of pattern of braided lines. The reason for the more usual
practice of following the outline of the design is obvious. The stitch
lends itself to sweeping, even to perfectly spiral, lines--such as occur
in Greek wave patterns: it was, in fact, made use of in that way by the
Greeks some four or five centuries B.C.



We owe the tambour frame, they say, to China; but it has been largely
used, and abused indeed, in England. Tambour work, when once you have
the trick of it, is very quickly done--in about one-sixth of the time it
would take to do it with the needle. It has the further advantage that
it serves equally well for embroidery on a light or on a heavy stuff,
and that it is most lasting. The misfortune is that the sewing machine
has learnt to do something at once so like it and so mechanically even,
as to discredit genuine hand-work, whether tambour work or chain-stitch.
For all that, neither is to be despised. If they have often a mechanical
appearance that is not all the fault of the stitch: the worker is to
blame. Indian embroiderers depart sometimes so far from mechanical
precision as to shock the admirers of monotonously even work. Artistic
use of chain stitch is made in many of our illustrations: for outlines
in Illustrations 24 and 72; for surface covering in Mr. Crane's lion,
Illustration 74; to represent landscape in Illustration 78, where
everything except the faces of the little men is in chain-stitch; and
again for figure work in Illustration 81. In Illustration 19 it occurs
in association with a curious surface stitch; in Illustration 64 it is
used to outline and otherwise supplement inlay. The old Italians did not
disdain to use it. In fact, wherever artists have employed it, they show
that there is nothing inherently inartistic about the stitch.


HERRING-BONE is the name by which it is customary to distinguish a
variety of stitches somewhat resembling the spine of a fish such as the
herring. It would be simpler to describe them as "fish-bone;" but that
term has been appropriated to describe a particular variety of it. One
would have thought it more convenient to use fish for the generic term,
and a particular fish for the specific. However, it saves confusion to
use names as far as possible in their accepted sense.

It will be seen from the sampler, Illustration 20, that this stitch may
be worked open or tolerably close; but in the latter case it loses
something of its distinctive character. Fine lines may be worked in it,
but it appears most suited to the working of broadish bands and other
more or less even-sided or, it may be, tapering forms, more feathery in
effect than fish-bone-like, such as are shown at E on sampler.

Ordinary herring-bone is such a familiar stitch that the necessity of
describing it is rather a matter of literary consistency than of
practical importance.

The two simpler forms of herring-bone (it is always worked from left to
right, and begun with a half-stitch) marked A and C on the sampler are
strikingly different in appearance, and are worked in different ways--as
will be seen at once by reference to the back of the sampler
(Illustration 21), where the stitches take in the one case a horizontal
and in the other a vertical direction.

[Sidenote: TO WORK A.]

To work A, bring your needle out about the centre of the line to be
worked; put it into the lower edge of the line about 1/8th of an inch
further on; take up this much of the stuff, and, keeping the thread to
the right, above the needle, draw it through. Then, with the thread
below it, to the right, put your needle into the upper edge of the line
1/4th of an inch further on, and, turning it backwards, take up again
1/8th of an inch of stuff, bringing it out immediately above where it
went in on the lower edge.

[Sidenote: TO WORK B.]

What is called "Indian Herring-bone" (B) is merely stitch A worked in
longer and more slanting stitches, so that there is room between them
for a second row in another colour, the two colours being, of course,
properly interlaced.

[Sidenote: TO WORK C.]

To work C, bring your needle out as for A, and, putting it in at the
upper edge of the line to be worked and pointing it downwards, whilst
your thread lies to the right, take up ever so small a piece of the
stuff. Then, slightly in advance of the last stitch, the thread still to
the right, your needle now pointing upwards, take another similar
stitch from the lower edge.

[Illustration: 20. HERRING-BONE SAMPLER.]

[Illustration: 21. HERRING-BONE SAMPLER (BACK).]

[Sidenote: TO WORK D.]

The variety at D is merely a combination of A and C, as may be seen by
reference to the back of the sampler (opposite); though the short
horizontal stitches there seen meet, instead of being wide apart as in
the case of A.


[Sidenote: TO WORK E.]

What is known as "fish-bone" is illustrated in the three feathery shapes
on the sampler (E), two of which are worked rather open. It is
characteristic of this stitch that it has a sort of spine up the centre
where the threads cross. Suppose the stitch to be worked horizontally.
Bring your needle out on the under edge of the spine about 1/4th of an
inch from the starting point of the work, and put it in on the upper
edge of the work at the starting point, bringing it out immediately
below that on the lower edge of the work. Put it in again on the upper
edge of the spine, rather in advance of where it came out on the lower
edge of it before, and bring it out on the lower edge of this spine
immediately below where it entered.


[Sidenote: TO WORK F.]

In close herring-bone (F on the sampler, Illustration 20) you have
always a long stitch from left to right, crossed by a shorter stitch
which goes from right to left. Having made a half stitch, bring the
needle out at the beginning of the line to be worked, at the lower edge,
and put it in 1/8th of an inch from the beginning of the upper edge.
Bring it out again at the beginning of this edge and put it in at the
lower edge 1/4th of an inch from the beginning, bringing it out on the
same edge 1/8th of an inch from the beginning. Put the needle in again
on the upper edge 1/8th of an inch in front of the last stitch on that
edge, and bring it out again, without splitting the thread, on the same
edge as the hole where the last stitch went in.

If you wish to cover a surface with herring-bone-stitch, you work it, of
course, close, so that each successive stitch touches its foregoer at
the point where the needle enters the stuff (F on the sampler,
Illustration 20). It will be seen that at the back (21) this looks like
a double row of back-stitching. Worked straight across a wide leaf, as
in the lower half of sampler, it is naturally very loose. A better
method of working is shown in the side leaves, which are worked in two
halves, beginning at the base of a leaf on one side and working down to
it on the other. There is here just the suggestion of a mid-rib between
the two rows.


[Sidenote: TO WORK G.]

The stitch at G on sampler, having the effect of higher relief than
ordinary close herring-bone (F), is sometimes misleadingly described as
tapestry stitch. It is worked, as the back of the sampler (21) clearly
shows, in quite a different way. You get there parallel rows of double
stitches. Having made a half-stitch entering the material at the upper
edge of the work, bring the needle out on the lower edge of it
immediately opposite. Then, going back, put it in at the beginning of
the upper edge, and bring it out at the beginning of the lower one.
Thence take a long slanting stitch upwards from left to right, bring the
needle out on the lower edge immediately opposite, cross it by a rather
shorter stitch from right to left, entering the stuff at the point where
the first half-stitch ended, bring this out on the lower edge, opposite,
and the stitch is done.

The artistic use of herring-bone-stitch is shown in the leaves of the
tulip (84), and a closer variety of it in the pink, or whatever the
flower may be, in the hand of the little figure on Illustration 72.


BUTTONHOLE is more useful in ornament than one might expect a stitch
with such a very utilitarian name to be. It is, as its common use would
lead one to suppose, pre-eminently a one-edged stitch, a stitch with
which to mark emphatically the outside edge of a form. There is,
however, a two-edged variety known as ladder-stitch, shown in the two
horn shapes on the sampler, Illustration 22.

By the use of two rows back to back, leaf forms may be fairly expressed.
In the leaves on the sampler, the edge of the stitch is used to
emphasise the mid rib, leaving a serrated edge to the leaves. The
character of the stitch would have been better preserved by working the
other way about, and marking the edge of the leaves by a clear-cut line,
as in the case of the solid leaves in Illustration 73.

The stitch may be used for covering a ground or other broad surface, as
in the pot shape (J) on the sampler, where the diaper pattern produced
by its means explains itself the better for being worked in two shades
of colour.

The simpler forms of the stitch are the more useful. Worked in the form
of a wheel, as in the rosettes at the side of the vase shape (A), the
ornamental use of the stitch is obvious.

[Sidenote: TO WORK A.]

One need hardly describe BUTTONHOLE STITCH. The simple form of it (A) is
worked by (when you have brought your needle out) keeping the thread
under your thumb to the right, whilst you put the needle in again at a
higher point slightly to the right, and bring it out immediately below,
close to where it came out before. This and other one-edged stitches of
the kind are sometimes called "blanket-stitch."

The only difference between versions such as B and C on the sampler, and
simple buttonhole, is that the stitches vary in length according to the
worker's fancy.

[Sidenote: TO WORK E.]

The CROSSED BUTTONHOLE STITCH at E is worked by first making a stitch
sloping to the right, and then a smaller buttonhole-stitch across this
from the left.

The border marked D in sampler consists merely of two rows of slanting
buttonhole-stitch worked one into the other. Needlewomen have wilful
ways of making what should be upright stitches slant awkwardly in all
manner of ways, with the result that they look as if they had been
pulled out of the straight.

[Illustration: 22. BUTTONHOLE SAMPLER.]

[Illustration: 23. BUTTONHOLE SAMPLER (BACK).]

[Sidenote: TO WORK F.]

The border at F, known as "TAILOR'S BUTTONHOLE," is worked with the firm
edge from you, instead of towards you, as you work ordinary
buttonhole. Bringing the thread out at the upper edge of the work to the
left, and letting it lie on that side, you put your needle in again
still on the same edge, and bring it out, immediately below, on the
lower one. You then, before drawing the thread quite through, put your
needle into the loop from behind, and tighten it upwards.


[Sidenote: TO WORK G.]

In order to make your ladder-stitch (G) square at the end, you begin by
making a bar of the width the stitch is to be. Then, holding the thread
under your thumb to the right, you put the needle in at the top of the
bar and, slanting it towards the right, bring it out on a level with the
other end of the bar somewhat to the right. This makes a triangle. With
the point of your needle, pull the slanting thread out at the top, to
form a square; insert the needle; slant it again to the right; draw it
out as before, and you have your second triangle.

[Sidenote: TO WORK H.]

The difference between the working of the lattice-like band at H, and
ladder-stitch G, is that, having completed your first triangle, you
make, by buttonholing a stitch, a second triangle pointing the other
way, which completes a rectangular shape.


In the solid work shown at J, you make five buttonhole-stitches,
gathering them to a point at the base, then another five, and so on.
Repeat the process, this time point upwards, and you have the first band
of the pot shape.

Characteristic and most beautiful use is made of buttonhole stitch in
the piece of Indian work in Illustration 24, where it is outlined with
chain stitch, which goes most perfectly with it.

Cut work, such as that on Illustration 65, is strengthened by outlining
it in buttonhole-stitch.

Ladder-stitch occurs in the cusped shapes framing certain flowers in
Illustration 72, embroidered all in blue silk on linen. It is not
infrequent in Oriental work, and, in fact, goes sometimes by the name of
Cretan-stitch on that account.


FEATHER-STITCH is simply buttonholing in a slanting direction, first to
the right side and then to the left, keeping the needle strokes in the
centre closer together or farther apart according to the effect to be

It owes its name, of course, to the more or less feathery effect
resulting from its rather open character. Like buttonhole, it may be
worked solid, as in the leaf and petal forms on the sampler,
Illustration 25, but it is better suited to cover narrow than broad
surfaces. The jagged outline which it gives makes it useful in
embroidering plumage, but it is not to be confounded with what is called
"plumage-stitch," which is not feather-stitch at all, but a version of

The feathery stem (A) on the sampler is simply a buttonholing worked
alternately from right to left and left to right.

[Sidenote: TO WORK B.]

The border line at B requires rather more explanation. Presume it to be
worked vertically. Bring your needle out at the left edge of the band;
put it in at the right edge immediately opposite, keeping your thread
under the needle to the right; bring it out again still on the right
edge a little lower down, and then, keeping your thread to the left, put
the needle in on the left edge, opposite to where you last brought it
out, and bring it out again on the same edge a little lower down.

[Illustration: 25. FEATHER-STITCH SAMPLER.]

[Illustration: 26. FEATHER-STITCH SAMPLER (BACK).]

The border at C is merely an elaboration of the above, with three
slanting stitches on each edge instead of a single one in the direction
of the band.


Bands D, E, F, G, are variations of ordinary feather-stitch, requiring
no further explanation than the back view of the work (26) affords. On
the face of the sampler it will be noticed that lines have been drawn
for the guidance of the worker. These are always four in number,
indicating at once, that the stitch is made with four strokes of the
needle, and the points at which it is put in and out of the stuff.

[Sidenote: TO WORK G G.]

In working G G, suppose four guiding lines to have been drawn as
above--numbered, 1, 2, 3, 4, from left to right. Bring your needle out
at the top of line 1. Make a chain-stitch slanting downwards from line 1
to line 2. Put your needle into line 3 about 1/8th of an inch lower
down, and, slanting it upwards, bring it out on line 4 level with the
point where you last brought it out. Make a chain-stitch slanting
downwards this time from right to left, and bring your needle out on
line 3. Lastly, put your needle into line 2, 1/8th of an inch below the
last stitch, and, slanting it upwards, bring it out on line 1.

Feather-stitch is not adapted to covering broad surfaces solidly, but
may be used for narrow ones.

ORIENTAL-STITCH is the name given to a close kind of feather-stitch much
used in Eastern work. The difference at once apparent to the eye between
the two is that, whereas for the mid-rib of a band or leaf of
feather-stitching (25) you have cross lines, in Oriental-stitch (27) you
have a straight line--longer or shorter as the case may be.

Oriental-stitch, sometimes called "Antique-stitch," is a stitch in three
strokes, just as feather-stitch is a stitch in four. It is usually
worked horizontally, though shown upright on the sampler, Illustration
27. Like feather-stitch (see diagram), it is worked on four guiding
lines, faintly visible on the sampler.

[Sidenote: TO WORK A, B, C.]

Stitches A, B, and C are worked in precisely the same way. Bring your
needle out at the top of line 1. Keep the thread under your thumb to the
right and put your needle in at the top of line 4, bringing it out into
line 3 on the same level. Then put it in again at line 2, just on the
other side of the thread, and bring it out on line 1 ready to begin the
next stitch.

[Illustration: 27. ORIENTAL-STITCH SAMPLER.]


It will be seen that the length of the central part (or mid-rib, as it
was called above) makes the whole difference between the three varieties
of stitch. In A the three parts are equal: in B the mid-rib is narrow:
in C it is broad, as is most plainly seen on the back of the sampler
(28). The difference is only a difference of proportion.


[Sidenote: TO WORK D.]

The sloping stitch at D is worked in the same way as A, B, C, except
that instead of straight strokes with the needle you make slanting ones.

[Sidenote: TO WORK E.]

Stitch E differs from D in that the side strokes slant both in the same
direction. It is worked from right to left instead of from left to

[Sidenote: TO WORK F.]

Stitch F is a combination of buttonhole and Oriental stitches. Between
two rows of buttonholing (dark on sampler) a single row of
Oriental-stitch is worked.

The stitch employed for the central stalk, G, has really no business on
this sampler, except that it has something of the appearance of a
continuous Oriental-stitch.

Oriental-stitch is one of the stitches used in Illustration 72.


A single sampler is devoted to ROPE and KNOTTED STITCHES, more nearly
akin than they look, for rope-stitch is all but knotted as it is worked.

ROPE-STITCH is so called because of its appearance. It takes a large
amount of silk or wool to work it, but the effect is correspondingly
rich. It is worked from right to left, and is easier to work in curved
lines than in straight.

[Sidenote: TO WORK A, B.]

Lines A on the sampler, Illustration 29, represent the ordinary
appearance of the stitch; its construction is more apparent in the
central stalk B, which is a less usual form of the same stitch, worked
wider apart.


Having brought out your needle at the right end of the work, hold part
of the thread towards the left, under the thumb, the rest of it falling
to the right; put your needle in above where it came out, slant it
towards you, and bring it out again a little in advance of where it came
out before, and just below the thread held under your thumb. Draw the
thread through, and there results a stitch which looks rather like a
distorted chain stitch (B). The next step is to make another similar
stitch so close to the foregoing one that it overlaps it partly. It is
this overlapping which gives the stitch the raised and rope-like
appearance seen at A.


[Sidenote: TO WORK C.]

A knotted line (C in the sampler, Illustration 29) is produced by what
is known as "GERMAN KNOT-STITCH," effective only in thick soft silk or
wool. Begin as in rope stitch, keeping your thread in the same position.
Then put your needle into the stuff just above the thread stretched
under your thumb, and bring it out just below and in a line with where
it went in; lastly, keep the needle above the loose end of the thread,
draw it through, tightening the thread upwards, and you have the first
of your knots: the rest follow at intervals determined by your wants.

[Sidenote: TO WORK D.]

The more open stitch at D is practically the same thing, except that
in crossing the running thread you take up more of the stuff on each
side of it.



[Sidenote: TO WORK E.]

What is known by the name of "OLD ENGLISH KNOT-STITCH" (E) is a much
more complicated stitch. Keeping your thread well out of the way to the
right, put your needle in to the left, and take up vertically a piece of
the stuff the width of the line to be worked at its widest, and draw the
thread through. Then, keeping it under the thumb to the left, put your
needle, eye first, downwards, through the slanting stitch just made;
draw the thread not too tight, and, keeping it as before under the
thumb, put your needle, eye first, this time through the upper half only
of the slanting stitch, making a kind of buttonhole-stitch round the
last, and draw out your thread.

These knotted rope stitches, call them what you will, are rather ragged
and fussy--not much more than fancy stitches--of no great importance.
KNOTS used separately are of much more artistic account.

[Sidenote: TO WORK F.]

BULLION or ROLL-STITCH is shown in its simplest form in the petals of
the flowers F on the sampler, Illustration 29. To work one such petal,
begin by attaching the thread very firmly; bring your needle out at the
base of the petal, put it in at the tip, and bring it out once more at
the base, only drawing it partly through. With your right hand wind the
thread, say seven times, round the projecting point of the needle from
left to right. Then, holding the coils under your left thumb, your
thread to the right, draw your needle and thread through; and, dropping
the needle, and catching the thread round your little finger, take hold
of the thread with your thumb and first finger and draw the coiled
stitch to the right, tightening it gently until quite firm. Lastly, put
the needle through at the tip of the petal, and the stitch is complete
and ready to be fastened off.


The leaves of these flowers consist simply of two bullion stitches. The
bullion knots at the side of the central stalk are curled by taking up
in the first instance only the smallest piece of the stuff.

[Sidenote: TO WORK G.]

To work FRENCH KNOTS (G), having brought out your needle at the point
where the knot is to be, hold the thread under your thumb, and, letting
it lie to the right, put your needle under the stretched part of it.
Turn the needle so as to twist the thread once round it. That done, put
the needle in again about where it came out, draw it through from the
back, and bring it out where the next knot is to be.

For large knots use two or more threads of silk, and do not twist them
more than once. With a single thread you may twist twice, but the result
of twisting three or four times is never happy.


The use of knots is shown to perfection in Illustration 24. Worked there
in white silk floss upon a dark purple ground, they are quite pearly in
appearance, whether in rows between the border lines, or scattered over
the ground. They are most useful in holding the design together, giving
it mass, and go admirably with chain-stitching, to which, when close
together, they have at first sight some likeness. A single line of knots
may almost be mistaken for chain-stitch; but of themselves they do not
make a good outline, lacking firmness. A happier use of them is to
fringe an outline, as for example in the peacock's tail on page 38; but
this kind of thing must be used with reticence, or it results in a
rather rococo effect. Good use is sometimes made of knots to pearl the
inner edge of a pattern worked in outline, or to pattern the ornament
(instead of the ground) all over. Differencing of this kind may be an
afterthought--and a happy one--affording as it does a ready means of
qualifying the colour or texture of ground, or pattern, or part of
either, which may not have worked out quite to the embroiderer's liking.

The obvious fitness of knots to represent the stamens of flowers is
exemplified in Illustration 93. Worked close together, they represent
admirably the eyes of composite flowers, as on the sampler; they give,
again, valuable variety of texture to the crest of the stork in
Illustration 85.

The effect of knotting in the mass is shown in Illustration 31,
embroidered entirely in knots, contradicting, it might seem, what was
said above about its unfitness for outline work. The lines, even the
voided ones, are here as sharp as could be; but then, it is not many of
us who work, knot by knot, with the marvellous precision of a Chinaman.
His knotted texture is not, however, always what it seems. He has a way
of producing a knotted line by first knotting his thread (it may be done
with a netting needle), and then stitching it down on to the surface of
the material, which gives a pearled or beaded line not readily
distinguishable from knot stitch.

[Illustration: 31. A TOUR DE FORCE IN KNOTS.]

The Japanese embroiderer, instead of knotting his own thread, employed
very often a crinkled braid. This is shown in the cloud work in
Illustration 85. The only true knotting there is in the top-knot of the




The samplers so far discussed bring us, with the exception of Darning,
Satin-stitch, and some stitches presently to be mentioned, practically
to the end of the stitches, deserving to be so called, generally in use.

By combining two or more stitches endless complications may be made; and
there may be occasions when, for one purpose or another, it may be
necessary, as well as amusing, to invent them. In this way stitches are
also sometimes worked upon stitches, as shown on the sampler,
Illustration 32. You will see, on referring to the back of it (33), that
only the white silk is worked into the stuff: the dark is surface work
only. There is no end to such possible INTERLACINGS. Those on the
sampler do not need much explanation; but it may be as well to say that
A starts with crewel-stitching; B and C with back-stitching; D with
chain-stitching; E with darning or running; F, G, and H with varieties
of herring-bone-stitch; J with Oriental-stitch; and K with
feather-stitch. The interlacing on the surface of these is shown in
darker silk. C and G undergo a second course of interlacing.

The danger of splitting the first stitches in working the interlacing
ones, is avoided by passing the needle eye-first through them.

Other surface work, sometimes called LACE-STITCH, is illustrated in the
sampler, Illustration 34. There is really no limit to patterns of this
kind. Some are better worked in a frame, but that is very much a matter
of personal practice.


[Sidenote: TO WORK H, 34.]

In the Surface Darning at H (34) long threads are first carried from
edge to edge of the square, there only piercing the stuff, and then
darned across by other stitches, again only piercing it at the edges.

An oblique version of this is given at C (34).

[Sidenote: TO WORK B, 34.]

The Lace Buttonholing at B (34) is worked as follows:--Buttonhole three
stitches into the stuff from left to right, not quite close together,
and further on three more; then, working from right to left, make three
buttonhole stitches into the thread connecting the stitch groups; but do
not stitch into the stuff except at the ends of the rows. The last row
must, of course, be worked into the stuff again.

[Illustration: 34. SURFACE-STITCH SAMPLER.]

[Sidenote: TO WORK F, 34.]

Net Passing, as at F (34), is not very differently worked from A or B.
It is much more open, and the first row of horizontal stitches is
crossed by two opposite rows of oblique stitches, which are made to

[Sidenote: TO WORK G, 34.]

The square at G is worked by first making rows of short upright stitches
worked into the stuff, and then threading loose stitches through them.

[Sidenote: TO WORK D, 34.]

The square at D is worked on the open lattice shown; the solid parts are
produced by interlacing stitches from side to side, starting at the

In the square at E (Japanese Darning) horizontal lines are first darned,
and then zigzag lines are worked between them, much as in G; but, as
they penetrate the material, this is scarcely a surface stitch.

[Sidenote: TO WORK A, 34.]

The horizontal lines at top and bottom of the square at A are
back-stitching, the intermediate ones simply long threads carried from
one side to the other; they are laced together by lines looped round

[Sidenote: TO WORK L, 34.]

The band at L is begun by making horizontal bar stitches. A row of
crewel-stitch and one of outline-stitch, worked on to the bars, and not
into the stuff, makes the central chain.

[Sidenote: TO WORK K, 34.]

The band at K is merely surface buttonholing over a series of slanting

[Sidenote: TO WORK J, 34.]

The band at J is buttonhole stitching wide apart, the bars filled in
with surface crewel-stitch.

[Illustration: 35. LACE OR SURFACE STITCH.]

Most delicate surface stitching occurs in Illustration 35, the fine
net being worked only from edge to edge of the spaces it fills, and not
elsewhere entering the stuff; which accounts for most of it being worn
away. The flower or scroll-work is _bonâ fide_ embroidery, worked
through the stuff. The delicate network of fine stitching, which once
covered the whole of the background, is for the most part neither more
nor less than a floating gossamer of lacework. One cannot deny that that
is embroidery, though it has to be said that _lace-stitches_ are
employed in it.

Stern embroiderers would like to deny it. Of course it is frivolous, and
in a sense flimsy, but it is also delicate and dainty to a degree. It is
suited only to dress, and that of the most exquisite kind. A French
marquise of the Regency might have worn it, and possibly did wear it,
with entire propriety--if the word is not out of keeping with the

The frailty of this kind of thing is too obvious to need mention, and
that, of course, is a strong argument against it.

All attempt to give separate names to diapers of this kind, whether
worked upon the surface or into the stuff, is futile. They ought not
even to be called stitches, being, in fact, neither more nor less than
stitch patterns, to which there is no possible limit, unless it be the
limit of human invention. Every ingenious workwoman will find out
patterns of her own more or less. They are very useful for filling in
surfaces (pattern or background) which it may be inexpedient to work
more solidly.

The greater part of such patterns are geometric (Illustrations 35 and
73), following, that is to say, the mesh of the material, and making no
secret of it. On Illustration 3 you see very plainly how the rectangular
diaperings are built up geometrically on the square lines of the mesh,
as was practically inevitable working on such a ground. The relation of
stitch to stuff is here obvious.

The choice of stitch patterns of this kind is invariably left to the
needlewoman. The utmost a designer need do is to indicate on his drawing
that a "full," "open," or "intermediate" diaper is to be used. And the
alternation of lighter and heavier diapers should be planned, and not
left altogether to impulse, though the pattern may be. Moreover, there
is room for the exercise of considerable taste in the choice of simpler
or more elaborate patterns, freer or more geometric. Many a time the
shape of the space to be filled, as well as its extent, will suggest the
appropriate ornament. The diaper design is not, of course, drawn on the
stuff, but points of guidance may be indicated through a kind of fine
stencil plate.

The patterns used for background diapering need not, as a rule, be
intrinsically so interesting as those which diaper the design itself,
nor are they usually so full. They take more often the form of spot or
sprig patterns, not continuous, in which the geometric construction is
not so obvious, nor even necessary. In either case the prime object of
the stitching is not so much to make ornamental patterns as to give a
tint to the stuff without entirely hiding it with work; and the worker
chooses a lighter or heavier diaper according to the tint required. If
the work is all in white it is texture, instead of tint, that is aimed

For a background, simple darning more or less open, in stitches not too
regular, is often the best solution of the difficulty. The effect of the
ground grinning through is delightful.


SATIN-STITCH is _par excellence_ the stitch for fine silkwork. I do not
know if the name of "satin-stitch" comes from its being so largely
employed upon satin, or from the effect of the work itself, which would
certainly justify the title, so smooth and satin-like is its surface.
Given a material of which the texture is quite smooth and even, showing
no mesh, satin-stitch seems the most natural and obvious way of working
upon it. In it the embroidress works with short, straight strokes of the
needle, just as a pen draughtsman lays side by side the strokes of his
pen; but, as she cannot, of course, leave off her stroke as the penman
does, she has perforce to bring back the thread on the under side of the
stuff, so that, if very carefully done, the work is the same on both

Satin-stitch, however, need not be, and never was, confined to work upon
silk or satin. In fact, it was not only worked upon fine linen, but
often followed the lines of its mesh, stepping, as in Illustration 9, to
the tune of the stuff. This may be described as satin-stitch in the
making--at any rate, it is the elementary form of it, its relation to
canvas-stitch being apparent on the face of it. Still, beautiful and
most accomplished work has been done in it alike by Mediæval,
Renaissance, and Oriental needleworkers.

[Sidenote: TO WORK A, 36.]

To cover a space with regular vertical satin stitches (A on the sampler,
Illustration 36), the best way of proceeding is to begin in the centre
of the space and work from left to right. That half done, begin again in
the centre and work from right to left.

In order to make sure of a crisp and even edge to your forms, always let
the needle enter the stuff there, as it is not easy to find the point
you want from the back.

In working a second row of stitches, proceed as before, only planting
your needle between the stitches already done. Fasten off with a few
tiny surface stitches and cut off the silk on the right side of the
stuff: it will be worked over.

[Sidenote: TO WORK B, 36.]

To cover a space with horizontal satin stitches (B on sampler), begin at
the top, and work from left to right. The longer stretches there are
not, of course, crossed at one stitch; they take several stitches,
dovetailed, as it were, so as not to give lines.

The easiest, most satisfactory, and generally most effective way of
working flat satin stitch is in oblique or radiating lines (C, D, E),
working in those instances, as in the case of A, from the centre,
first from left to right and then from right to left.

[Illustration: 36. SATIN-STITCH SAMPLER.]

[Illustration: 37. SATIN-STITCH SAMPLER (BACK).]

Stems, narrow leaflets, and the like, are best worked always in stitches
which run diagonally and not straight across the form.

In the case of stems or other lines curved and worked obliquely, the
stitches must be very much closer on the inner side of the curve than on
the outside: occasionally a half-stitch may be necessary to keep the
direction of the lines right, in which case the inside end of the
half-stitch must be quite covered by the stitch next following.


Satin-stitch is seen at its best when worked in floss. Coarse or twisted
silk looks coarse in this stitch, as may be seen by comparing the petal
D in the sampler, Illustration 36, with the petal in twisted silk here
given (38). Marvellously skilful as are the needle-workers of India
(Illustration 39), they get rather broken lines when they work in thick
twisted silk. The precision of line a skilled worker can get in floss is
wonderful. An Oriental will get sweeping lines as clean and firm as if
they had been drawn with a pen, and this not merely in the case of an
outline, but in voided lines of which each side has to be drawn with the
needle. The voided outline, by the way, as on Illustrations 39, 40, is
not only the frankest way of defining form, but seems peculiarly proper
to satin-stitch; and it is a test of skill in workmanship: it is so easy
to disguise uneven stitching by an outline in some other stitch. The
voiding in the wings of the birds in Illustration 40 is perfect; and the
softening of the voided line, at the start of the wing in one case and
the tail in the other, by cross stitching in threads comparatively wide
apart, is quite the right thing to do. It would have been more in
keeping to void the veins of the lotus leaves than to plant them on in

Satin-stitch must not be too long, and it is often a serious
consideration with the designer how to break up the surfaces to be
covered so that only shortish stitches need be used. You might follow
the veining of a leaf, for example, and work from vein to vein. But all
leaves are not naturally veined in the most accommodating manner.
Treatment is accordingly necessary, and so we arrive at a convention
appropriate to embroidery of this kind. It takes a draughtsman properly
to express form by stitch distribution. The Chinese convention in the
lotus flowers (Illustration 40) is admirable.


It is the rule of the game to lay satin-stitch very evenly. Worked in
floss, the mere surface of satin-stitch is beautiful. A further charm
lies in the way it lends itself to gradation of colour. Beautiful
results may be obtained by the use of perfectly flat tints of colour, as
in Illustration 40; but the subtlest as well as the most deliberate
gradation of tint may be most perfectly rendered in satin-stitch.


SURFACE SATIN-STITCH (not the same on both sides), though it looks very
much like ordinary satin-stitch, is worked in another way. The needle,
that is to say, after each stitch is brought _immediately_ up again, and
the silk is carried back on the upper instead of the under side of the
stuff. Considerable economy of silk is effected by thus keeping the
thread as much as possible on the surface, but the effect is apt to be
proportionately poorer. Moreover, the work is not so lasting as when it
is solid. The satin-stitch on Illustration 58 is all surface work. It
looks loose, which it is always apt to do, unless it is kept stretched
on the frame, on which, of course, satin-stitch is for the most part
worked. Very effective Indian work is done of this kind--loose and
flimsy, but serving a distinct artistic purpose. It is to embroidery of
more serious kind what scene painting is to mural decoration.

[Illustration: 40. CHINESE SATIN-STITCH.]

Embroidery is often described as being in "long-and-short-stitch," a
term properly descriptive not of a stitch, but of its dimensions.
Whether you use stitches of equal or of unequal length is a question
merely of the adaptation of the stitch to its use in any given instance;
there is nothing gained by calling an arrangement of alternating
stitches, "long and short," or by calling them "plumage-stitch," or,
which is more misleading, "feather-stitch," when they radiate so as to
follow the form, say, of a bird's breast. The bodies of the birds in
Illustrations 40 and 85 are in plumage-stitch so called. This adaptation
of stitch to bird or other forms gives the effect of fine feathering
perfectly. But why apply the term "satin-stitch" exclusively to parallel
lines of stitches all of a length?

"Long-and-short-stitch," then, is a sort of satin-stitch; only, instead
of the stitches being all of equal length, they are worked one _into_
the others or _between_ them, as in the faces in Illustrations 79 and

A little further removed from satin-stitch is what is known as
"split-stitch," in which the needle is brought up _through_ the
foregoing stitch, and splits it. The way of working this stitch is more
fully given on page 105.

The worker adapts, as a matter of course, the length of the stitch to
the work to be done, directing it also according to the form to be
expressed, and so arrives, almost before he is aware of it, by way of
satin-stitch, at what is called plumage-stitch.



The distinction between the stitches so far described is plain
enough, and an all-round embroidress learns to work them; but workers
end in working their own way, modifying the stitch according to the work
it is put to do, and produce results which it would be difficult to
describe and pedantic to find fault with. Even short, however, of such
individual treatment, the mere adaptation of the stitch to the lines of
the design removes it from the normal. It makes a difference, too,
whether it is worked in a frame or in the hand: in the one case you see
more likeness to one stitch, in the other to another. The flower at B,
for example, and the leaf at D, on the sampler, Illustration 41, are
both worked in what is commonly called "plumage," or "embroidery"
stitch, though the term "dovetail," sometimes used, seems to describe it
better. Instance B, however, is worked in the hand, and D in a
frame--from which very fact it follows that the worker is naturally
disposed to regard B as akin to crewel-stitch and D to satin-stitch,
between which two stitches "dovetail" may be regarded as the connecting

[Illustration: THE WORKING OF B ON SAMPLER 41.]

[Sidenote: TO WORK B, 41.]

The petals at B are worked in the method illustrated in the diagram
overleaf. The first step is to edge the shape with satin-stitches in
threes, successively long, shorter, and quite short. This done, starting
at the base again, you put your needle in on the upper or right side of
the first short stitch, and bring it out through the long stitch (as
shown in the diagram). You then make a short stitch by putting your
needle downwards through the material, and taking up a small piece of
it. You have finally only to draw the needle through, and it is in
position to make another long stitch. As the concentric rings of
stitching become smaller, you make, of course, shorter stitches, and you
need no longer pierce the thread of the long stitch.

[Sidenote: TO WORK D, 41.]

The working of the scroll at D on the sampler, Illustration 41, needs no
detailed explanation. Anyone who is acquainted with the way satin-stitch
is worked (it has already been sufficiently explained), and has read the
above account of the working of B, will understand at once how that is
worked in the frame.

It will be seen that there is a slight difference in effect between the
two, arising from the fact that work done in the hand is necessarily
more loosely and not quite so evenly done as that on a frame.

[Sidenote: TO WORK SPLIT-STITCH C, 41.]

Split-stitch (C on the sampler), again, resembles either crewel-stitch
or satin-stitch, according as it is worked in the hand or on a frame. In
working in the hand, you take a rather shorter stitch back than in
crewel-stitch, piercing with the needle the thread which is to form the
next stitch. In working on a frame, you bring your needle always up
through the last-made satin-stitch in order to start the next. Whichever
way it is done, split-stitch is often difficult to distinguish without
minute examination from chain-stitch. Further reference to its use is
made in the chapter on shading. It may be interesting to compare it with
crewel-stitch (A on the sampler), which is also a favourite stitch for


It is the peculiarity of DARNING and RUNNING that you make several
stitches at one passing of the needle.

Darning and running amount practically to the same thing. Darning might
be described as consecutive lines of running. The difference is, in the
main, a matter of multiplication; but the distinction is sometimes made
that in running the stitches may be the same length on the face as on
the reverse of the stuff, whereas in darning the thread is mainly on the
surface, only dipping for the space of a single thread or so below it.

It results from the way of working that you get in darning an
interrupted line characteristic of the stitch. What is called "double
darning," by which the breaks in the single darning are made good, has
in effect no character of darning whatever.

Darning has a homely sound, but it is useful for more than mending. In
embroidery you no longer use it to replace threads worn away, but build
up upon the scaffolding of a merely serviceable material what may be a
gorgeous design in silk.

[Illustration: 43. DARNING SAMPLER.]

Darning is worked, of course, in rows backwards and forwards; but if the
stitches are long and in the direction of the weft, it is as well not to
run the returning row next to the one just done, but to leave space for
a second course of darning afterwards between the open rows.

The darning of the sampler, Illustration 43, is very simple. The flower
is darned in stitches of fairly equal length, taking up one thread of
the material, and covering a space of almost a quarter of an inch before
taking up the next thread. The outline of a petal is first worked, and
successive rows of darning follow the lines of the flower, expressing to
some extent its form. Much depends upon the direction of the stitch.

The texture of the work depends upon the length of the stitches, and on
the amount of the stuff showing through.

Darning is usually supplemented by outlining. The sampler is designed to
show how far one can dispense with it. The flower stalk is defined by
darning the first row in a darker colour; for the rest, voiding is
employed, but it is not easy to void in darning.

The background is darned diaper fashion. It gives, that is to say,
deliberately diagonal lines. A background irregularly darned should be
irregular enough never to run into lines not contemplated by the worker.


In the case of large leaves, veined, the veining should be worked
first, the stitches between them radiating outwards to the edge of the

More accomplished work in darning is shown in the border by William
Morris in Illustration 44, where it appears, however, much flatter than
in the coloured silk. It is worked solid, the radiating stitches
accommodating themselves to the forms of the leaves and petals, which,
in fact, are designed with a view to their execution in this way. They
are defined by outline-stitching--light or dark as occasion seemed to

Mention has already been made of darning _à propos_ of canvas-stitch;
and there is a sort of natural correspondence between the _mécanique_ of
darning in its simplest form and the network of open threads which gives
to rectangular darning, like the German work in Illustration 45,
character which more than compensates for its angularity in outline. The
darning is there quite even in workmanship, but it is, as will be seen,
of different degrees of strength--lighter for the surface of the
pattern, heavier for the outline.

You may qualify the colour of a stuff by lightly darning it with silk of
another shade, and very subtle tints may be got by thus, as it were,
veiling a coloured ground with silks of various hues.



The necessity for something like what is called "LAID-WORK" is best
shown by reference to satin-stitch. It was said in reference to it that
satin-stitches should not be too long. There is a great deal of Eastern
work in which surface satin-stitch, or its equivalent, floats so loosely
upon the face of the stuff that it can only be described as flimsy.
Nothing could be more beautiful in its way than certain Soudanese
embroidery, in which coloured floss in stitches an inch or more long
lies glistening on the stuff without any interruption of threads to
fasten it down.

Embroidery of this kind, however, hardly comes within the scope of
practical work. Long, loose stitches want sewing down. Some compromise
has to be made between art and beauty. The problem is to make the work
strong enough without seriously disturbing its lustrous surface, and the
solution of it is "laid-work," at which we arrive thus almost by

[Illustration: 46. LAID-WORK SAMPLER.]

It involves no new stitch, but is only another way of using stitches
already described. In laid-work, long tresses of silk, as William Morris
called them, floss by preference, are thrown backwards and forwards
across the face of the stuff, only just piercing it at the edges of the
forms, and back again. These silken tresses are then caught down and
kept, I will not say close to the ground, but in their place upon it, by
lines of stitching in the cross direction.

Laid-work is not, at the best, a very strong or lasting kind of
embroidery (it needs to be carefully covered up even as it is worked),
but by no other means is the silky beauty of coloured floss so perfectly
set forth. It is hardly worth doing in anything but floss.

Laid-work lends itself also to gradation of colour within certain
limits--the limits, that is to say, of the straight parallel lines in
which the silk is laid: the direction of these is determined often by
the lines of sewing which are to cross them. In any case the direction
of the threads is here more than ever important. The sewing down must
take lines and may form patterns.

The sampler, Illustration 46, wants little or no explanation. It
illustrates the various ways of laying. In the leaf the floss is sewn
down with split-stitch, which forms the veining. Elsewhere it is kept in
place by "couching," a process presently to be described. For the
outlines, split-stitch and couching are employed. The last row of laid
work in the grounding is purposely pulled out of the straight by the
couching in order to give a waved edge. The diaper which represents the
seeding of the flower is not, properly speaking, laid-work: single
threads of white purse silk are there couched down with dark.

[Illustration: 47. JAPANESE LAID-WORK.]

For the transverse stitching, for which also it is best to use floss,
either split-stitch may be used, as in the leaf in the sampler,
Illustration 46, or a thread may be laid across and sewn down--couched,
as it is called--as in the flower. The closer the cross lines the
stronger the work, but the less lustrous the effect.

Laid floss may be employed to glorify the entire surface of a linen
material, as in the sampler or for the pattern only upon a ground worth
showing, as in Illustrations 47, 48, 49.

Laid-work will not give anything like modelling, and it is not best
suited to figure design except where it is quite flatly treated. An
instance of its use in figure work occurs on Illustration 79. It is
effective when quite naively and simply used in cross lines which do not
appear to take any account of the forms crossed--as, for example, in
Illustration 47, where the stitching does not pretend to express more
than a flat surface. The floss, however, is there carefully laid at a
different angle of inclination in each petal, so as to give variety of
colour. The lines of sewing vary according to the lines of the laid
floss, but do not cross them at right angles. The important thing is, of
course, that they should catch the laid "tresses" at intervals not too
far apart. If the lines which sew down the floss have also to express
drawing, as in the case of the bird's wings in Illustration 48, the
underlying floss must be laid in lines which they will cross. In the
case of the leaves in the same piece of work, the floss is laid in the
direction in which the leaf grows, and the stitching across, which sews
it down, is slightly curved so as to suggest roundness in them.

[Illustration: 48. INDO-PORTUGUESE LAID-WORK.]

A more finished piece of work is shown in Illustration 49, where the
laid floss crosses the forms, and the sewing down takes very much the
place of veining in the flower, and of ribs in the scroll, expressing
about as much modelling as can be expressed this way, and more, perhaps,
than it is advisable often to attempt.

The sewing down asserts itself most, of course, when it is in a colour
contrasting with the laid floss, as it does in the leaves in the smaller
sampler overleaf.

The stitching down makes usually a pattern more or less conspicuous. On
this same sampler it does so very deliberately in the case of the broad
stalk. The rather sudden variation of the colour shown there in the
leaves is harmless enough in bold work, to which the process is best
suited. One may be too careful in gradating the tints: timidity in this
respect prevails too much among modern needlewomen: an artist in floss
should not want her work to look like a gradated wash of colour. The
Italians of the 16th and 17th centuries (see Illustration 49) were not
afraid of rather abrupt transition in the shades of colour they used for

[Illustration: 49. ITALIAN LAID-WORK.]

[Illustration: 50. LAID SAMPLER.]

When laid floss is kept in place by threads themselves sewn down across
it, such threads are called "couched," and the work itself may be
described as laid and couched. Hence arises some confusion between the
two methods of work--laying and couching. It saves confusion to make a
sharp distinction between the two--using the term "laid" only for
stitches (floss) first loosely laid upon the surface of the stuff and
then sewn down by cross lines of stitching of whatever kind, and
"couched" for the sewing down of cords, &c. (silk or gold), thread by
thread or in pairs. Laid floss is sewn down _en masse_, couched silk in
single or double threads; and accordingly laid answers best for surface
covering, couched for outlining, except in the case of gold, which even
for surface covering is always couched.


COUCHING is the sewing down of one thread by another--as in the outline
of the flower on the laid sampler, Illustration 46. The stitches with
which it is sewn down, thread by thread, or, in the case of gold, two
threads at a time, are best worked from right to left; or, in outlining,
from outside the forms inwards, and a waxed thread is often used for the
purpose. Naturally the cord to be sewn down should be held fairly
tightly in place to keep the line even.

It is usual in couching to sew down the silk or cord with stitches
crossing it at right angles, except in the case of a twisted cord, which
should be sewn down with stitches in the direction of the twist.

Couching is best done in a frame; but it may be done in the hand by
means of buttonhole-stitch.

[Illustration: 51. A. BULLION. B. COUCHED CORD.]

When a surface is covered with couching, as in the seeding of the flower
in the sampler, Illustration 46, the sewing down stitches make a
pattern--all the plainer there, because the stitching is in a
contrasting shade of colour. It is quite permissible to call attention
to the stitching if it suits your artistic purpose. To disguise it by
sewing _through_ the cord is not a workmanlike practice. A worker should
frankly accept a method of work and get character out of it.

Embroidresses have a clever way of untwisting a cord before each stitch
and twisting it again after stitching through it--between the strands,
that is to say, in which the stitching is lost. The device is rather too
clever. It shows a cord with no visible means of attachment to the
ground, which is not desirable, however much desired. There is no
advantage in attaching cords to the surface of silk so that they look as
if they had been glued on to it. Conjuring tricks are highly amusing,
but one does not think very highly of conjurers. Personally, I would
much rather have seen more plainly the way the cord is sewn down in the
graceful cross in Illustration 51, a design perfectly adapted to
couching, and yet unlike the usual thing.

Where it is softish silk which is stitched down, it makes a great
difference whether it is loosely held and tightly sewn, or the contrary.
Contrast the short puffy lines nearest the corners in the sampler,
Illustration 52, with the longer ones between the broad and narrow
bands. The broad band is worked in rows of double filoselle, of various
shades, sewn down with single filoselle. In the narrower bands twisted
silk is sewn down with stitches in the direction of its twist. This is
more plainly seen in the upper of the two bands, where the
sloping stitches are lighter in colour than the cord sewn down.

[Illustration: 52. COUCHING SAMPLER.]

Characteristic use is made of rather puffy couching in the ornament of
the lady's dress in Miss Keighley's panel, Illustration 61, where it has
very much the richness of embroidery in seed pearls.

It was a common practice in Germany in the 16th century to work in solid
couching upon cloth, employing a twisted thread and sewing it with
stitches in the direction of the twist, so that at first sight one does
not recognise it as couching. It looks like rather coarse stitching in
the direction of the forms, and expresses shading very well. The cloth
ground accounts, perhaps, for the choice of method: the material is not
otherwise a pleasant one to embroider upon.

A rather earlier German method was to couch in parallel lines of white
upon white linen, and so get relief and texture but no modelling, though
the drawing was helped by varying the direction of the parallel lines.

The entire surface of a linen ground was sometimes covered with couched
threads of silk or fine wool--some of it in vertical and horizontal
lines, some of it in the direction of the pattern. This, again, was a
German practice, as may be seen in the Hildesheim Cope at South

All-over couching may be used with advantage to renew the ground of
embroidery so worn as to be unsightly; and is more lasting than
laid-work for the purpose. It is laborious to do, but more satisfactory
when done than remounting; and one or the other is a necessity
sometimes. The effect of age is, up to a certain point, pleasing: rags
are not.


Couching, however (except with gold), was more commonly used for
outlining, and is quite peculiarly suited to give a firm line. A
beautiful example of outline work in coloured silk upon white linen is
pictured in Illustration 90, in which the lines of delicate Renaissance
arabesque are perfectly preserved. The rare practice of such work as
this, notwithstanding its distinction, is perhaps sufficiently accounted
for by its modesty. It is true, it wants well-considered and definitely
drawn design, and there is no possible fudging with it.

[Illustration: 54. REVERSE COUCHING.]

The value of a couched cord as an outline to stitching (satin-stitch in
this instance) is shown in Illustration 91, in which the singularly
well-schemed and well-drawn lines of the ornament are given with
faultless precision. This is a portion of an altogether admirable frame
to an altogether foolish picture in needlework, of which a fragment only
is shown.

The appropriateness of couched cord to the outlining of inlay or of
appliqué is seen in the two examples which form Illustration 62. In the
one (A) it defines the clear-cut counterchange pattern; in the other
(B), being of a tint intermediate between the ground and the ornament,
it softens the contrast between them. An interesting technical point in
the design of this last is the way the cord outlining the leaves makes a
sufficiently thick stalk, coming together, as it naturally does, double
at the ends of the leaves.

[Illustration: 55. REVERSE COUCHING (BACK).]

This occurs again in Illustration 63, where the double threads which
form the stalks, though separately stitched down, are couched again at
intervals by bands crossing the two--at the springing of the stalks and
tendrils, for example, where joins inevitably occur. The cords forming
the central stalk are in one case looped.

Fantastic use has often been made of the looping of couched cord. The
Spanish embroiderers made most ornamental use of a wee loop at the
points of the leaves where the cord must turn; but the device of looping
may easily be used to frivolous purpose. A regularly looped line at once
suggests lace. A perplexing Chinese practice is to couch fine cord in
little loops so close together that they touch. A surface filled in
after this manner, as in the butterflies on Illustration 53, might pass
at first sight for French knots or chain-stitch: it is really another
method of all-over couching.

A double course of couching forms the outline in Illustration 92, one
of filoselle and one of cord, separately sewn; but the tendrils, which
are of silver thread, are sewn down both threads at a time with double
stitches, very obvious in the illustration. Over the couched silver
threads which form the main rib of the leaf a pattern is stitched in

_A propos_ of couching, mention must be made of a way of working used in
the famous Syon Cope by way of background, and figured overleaf
(Illustration 54). The ground stuff is linen, twofold, and it is worked
in silk, which lies nearly all upon the surface. The stitch runs from
point to point of the zigzag pattern; there it penetrates the stuff, is
carried round a thread of flax laid at the back of the material, and is
brought to the surface again through the hole made by the needle in
passing down. That is to say, the silken thread only _dips_ through the
linen at the points in the pattern, and is there caught down by a thread
of flax on the under-surface of the linen. The reverse of the work
(Illustration 55) shows a surface of flax threads couched with silk, for
which reason the method may be described as reverse couching. On the
face it gives an admirable surface diaper, flat without being
mechanical. It is easily worked with a blunt needle; with a sharp one
there would be a danger of splitting the stitch. It is a kind of work on
which two persons might be employed, one on either side of the stuff.


In olden days silk does not appear to have been couched in the East. On
the other hand, it was the custom to couch gold thread in Europe at
least as early as the twelfth century; so that the method was probably
first used for gold, which, except in the form of thin wire or
extraordinarily fine thread, is not quite the thing to stitch with.
Besides, it was natural to wish to keep the precious metal on the
surface, and not waste it at the back of the stuff.

A distinguishing feature about gold is that by common consent it is used
double and sewn down two threads at a time. This is not merely an
economy of work; but, except in the case of thick cords or strips of
gold, it has a more satisfactory effect--why it is not easy to say.
Panels A, B, C, in the sampler, Illustration 56, are couched in double
threads, D in single cords.

Gold couching is there used, as it mostly is, to cover a surface. In
doing that, it is usual to sew the threads firmly down at the edges of
the forms and cut them very sharply off; but they may equally well be
carried backwards and forwards across the face of the stuff. The slight
swelling of the gold thread where it turns gives emphasis to the
outline; but the turning wants carefully doing, and the gold thread must
not be too thick. If you use a large needle (to clear the way for the
thread), the turning of the gold may take place on the back instead of
on the face of the material, but only in the case of very fine thread.

Gold threads often want stroking into position. This may be done with
what is called a "pierce"; but a good stiletto, or even a very large
needle, will answer the purpose. Sharply pointed scissors are

In solid couching the stitches run almost inevitably into pattern; and
it is customary, therefore, to start with the assumption that they will,
and deliberately to make them into pattern--to work them, that is to
say, in vertical, diagonal, or cross lines as at A, in zigzags as at B,
or in some more complicated diaper pattern as at C, where the stitching
is purposely in pronounced colour, that the pattern may be quite clearly
seen; at D it has more its proper value, that the effect of it may be
better appreciated. The pattern may, of course, be helped by the colour
of the stitching, and there is some art in making the necessary stitches
into appropriate pattern.

[Illustration: 56. COUCHED GOLD SAMPLER.]

In fact the ornamentist, being an ornamentist, naturally takes advantage
of the necessity of stitching, to pattern his metallic surfaces with
diaper, using often, as in the scroll in Illustration 57, a diversity
of patterns, which gives at once varied texture and fanciful interest to
the surface. There is quite an epitome of little diapers in that
fragment of needlework; and one can hardly doubt that the embroiderer
found it great fun to contrive them. The flat strips of metal
emphasising the backs of the curves are sometimes twisted as they are

The other diapers on the sampler, F, G, H, J, 56, are emphasised by the
relief given to them by underlying cords, purposely left bare in parts
to show the structure. These underlying cords must be firmly sewn on to
the linen ground, and if the stitching follows the direction of the
twist in them, the round surface is not so likely to be roughened by it.
By rights, the cords should be laid farther apart than in the sampler,
where the attempt to force the effect (for purposes of explanation) has
not proved very successful. An infinity of basket patterns, as these may
be called (basket _stitches_ they are not), may be devised by varying
the intervals at which the gold threads are sewn down, and the number of
cords they cross at a time.

[Illustration: 57. COUCHED SILVER.]

The central panel of the sampler (E) shows a combination of flat and
raised gold. The outline of the heart is corded; the centre of it is
raised by stitching, first with crewel wool and then with gold-coloured
floss across that (it is difficult to prevent _white_ stuffing from
showing through gold). This gives only a hint of what may be done in
the way of raised ornament upon a flat gold ground, and was done in
mediæval work. A single cord may be sewn down to make a pattern in
relief, leafage, scrollwork, or what not, which, when the surface is all
worked over with gold, has very much the effect of gilt gesso. If, for
any reason, heavy work of this kind is to be done on silk or satin, that
must first be backed with strong linen.

In mediæval and church work generally the double threads are usually
laid close together, forming, as in the diapers on sampler, a solid
surface of gold; and that was largely done in Oriental embroidery
too--in Chinese, for example, where, however, the threads, instead of
being couched in straight lines, follow the outlines of the design, and
are worked ring within ring until the space is filled, as in the
dragon's face, A, Illustration 58. There is here, as in the working of
his body, a certain economy of gold; a small amount of the ground is
allowed to show between the lines of double gold thread--not enough to
tell as ground, but enough to give a tint of the ground colour to the
metal. Further, in this more open couching the direction of the lines of
couching goes for more than in solid work. The pattern made by the gold
thread is here not only ornamental but suggestive of the scaly body of
the creature. It will be seen, too, how, in the working of the legs,
the relatively compact gold threads are kept well within the outline, by
which means anything like harshness of silhouette is avoided.


That this less solid manner was not confined to the far East is shown by
the Venetian valance, B, on the lower part of the page, which has very
much the appearance of gold lace.

A good example of outline (single thread) in gold is given in
Illustration 59, part of an Italian housing, which reminds one both in
effect and in design of damascening, to which it is in some respects
equivalent; only, instead of gold and silver wire beaten into black iron
or steel, we have gold and silver thread sewn on to dark velvet. The
design recalls also the French bookbindings of the period of Henri II.,
in which the tooled ornament was precisely of this character. The
resemblance is none the less that an occasional detail is worked more
solidly; but, in the main, this is outline work, and a beautiful example
of it. The art in work of that kind is, of course, largely in the
design. Gold thread work in spiral forms has very much the effect of
filagree in gold wire.

The next step is where the cords of gold enclose little touches of
embroidery in coloured floss, as in Illustration 91. These have the
value of so many jewels or bits of bright enamel. In fact, just as
outline work in simple gold thread resembles damascening or filagree, so
this outlining of little spaces of coloured silk suggests enamel. The
cord of the embroiderer answers to the cloisons of the enameller, the
surfaces of shining floss to the films of vitreous enamel.

[Illustration: 59. COUCHED OUTLINE WORK.]

Appliqué embroidery is constantly edged with gold or silver thread. An
effective, if rather rude, example of this, the thread here again
double, is given in Illustration 60.

In couching more than one thread at a time there is a difficulty in
turning the angles. The threads give, of necessity, only gently rounded
forms. To get anything like a sharp point, you must stop short with the
inner thread before reaching the extreme turning point, and take it up
again on your way back. What applies to two threads, applies of course
still more forcibly to three.

The colour with which gold thread is sewn is a question of considerable
importance. If the stitches are close enough together to make solid
work, they give a flush of colour to the gold. Advantage is commonly
taken of this both in mediæval and Oriental work to warm the tint by
sewing it down with red. The Chinese will even work with a deeper and a
paler red to get two coppery shades. White stitching pales the gold,
yellow modifies it least, green cools it, and blue makes it greener. The
closer the stitches, the deeper the tint, of course.

[Illustration: 60. APPLIQUÉ--SATIN ON VELVET.]

You can get thus various shades of gold out of the same thread, and even
gradation from one to another, as may be seen in a great deal of
Spanish work of the 16th century, in which the gold ornament is often
quite delicately shaded from yellowish gold to ruddy copper on the one
hand, and to bronzy green on the other. Similar use may be made of
vari-coloured silks in couching white or other cord; but gold reflects
the colour much better than silk, and gives much more subtle effects.

The Flemings and Italians of the early Renaissance went further. They
had a way of laying threads of gold and sewing them so closely over with
coloured silk that in many parts it quite hid the gold. Only in
proportion as they wanted to lighten the colour of the draperies in
their pictorial embroideries did they space the stitches farther and
farther apart, and let the gold gleam through. Except in the high lights
it did not pronounce itself positively. The effect is not unlike what is
seen in paintings of the primitive school, where the high lights of the
red and blue draperies are hatched with gold. The practice of the
embroiderer may be reminiscent of that, or that may be the origin of the
primitive painters' convention. It is more as if the embroiderer wanted
to represent a precious tissue, a stuff shot with gold.

Illustration 80 gives part of a figure worked in this way, relieved
against a more golden architectural background rendered by the very same
double threads of gold which run through the figures. In the
architecture, however, they are couched in stitches which are never so
near as to take away from the effect of the gold. The two degrees of
obscuring or clouding gold by oversewing are here shown in most
instructive contrast. The cords, as usual, are laid in horizontal
courses. That was the convenient way of working; but it resulted in a
corded look, which has very much the appearance of tapestry; and there
is no doubt that resemblance to tapestry was in the end consciously
sought. That the method here employed was laborious needs no saying; but
it gave most beautiful, if pictorial, results.


Embroidery, it has been shown, is much of it on the surface of the
stuff, not just needle stitches, but the stitching-on of
something--cord, gold thread, or whatever it may be. And instances have
been given where the design of such work was not merely in outline, but
where certain details were filled in with stitching. Yet another
practice, and one more strictly in keeping with the onlaying of cord,
was to onlay the solid also, applying, that is to say, the surface
colour also in the form of pieces of silk cut to shape.

Patterns of this kind may be conceived as line work developing into
leafy terminations, the APPLIQUÉ only an adjunct to couching
(Illustration 63); or they may be thought of as massive work eked out
with line: the appliqué, that is to say, the main thing, the couching
only supplementary (Illustration 92). An intermediate kind is where
outline and mass--couching and appliqué--play parts of equal importance
in the scheme of design (Illustration 60).

Couched cord or filoselle is useful in covering the raw edge of the
onlay, not so much masking the joints as making them sightly.

Appliqué must be carefully and exactly done, and is best worked in a
frame. It is almost as much a man's work as a woman's. Embroidery proper
is properly woman's work; but here, as in the case of tailoring, the man
comes in. The getting ready for appliqué is not the kind of thing a
woman can do best.

The finishing may sometimes be done in the hand, and very bold, coarse
work may possibly be worked throughout in the hand, and outlined with
buttonhole-stitch (chain-stitch is not so appropriate); but when a
couched outline is employed it must be done in a frame, and, indeed,
work with any pretensions to finish is invariably begun and finished in
the frame.


To work appliqué you want, in fact, two frames--one on which to mount
the material to be embroidered, and another on which to mount the
material to be applied. The backing in each case should be of smooth
holland. This is stretched on to the frame, and then pasted with stiff
starch or what not; the silk or velvet is laid on to it and stroked with
a soft rag until it adheres, and is left to dry gently. When dry, the
outlines of the complete design are traced upon the one, and those of
the details to be applied upon the other. (You may paste, of course,
silks of two or three colours upon one backing for this.) The stuff to
be applied is then loosened from its frame, the details are cleanly cut
out with scissors, or, better still, a knife (in either case sharp), and
transferred to their place in the design on the other frame. There they
are kept in position by short steel pins planted upright into the stuff
until you are sure they fit, and then tacked firmly down, with care that
the stitches are such as will be quite covered by the final couching,
chain stitch, or whatever is to be your outline.

In the case of silk or other delicate material, peculiar care must be
taken that the paste is not moist enough to penetrate the stuff; but an
experienced worker has no fear of that.

A firm outline is a condition of appliqué, and couched cord fulfils it
most perfectly. Much depends upon a tasteful and tactful choice of
colour for it. You fatten your pattern by outlining it with a colour
which goes with it (Illustration 62, B). You thin it by one which goes
into the ground. Very subtle use may be made of a double outline or of a
corded line upon couched floss. There is a double outline to the
ornament in Illustration 92: the inner one next to the yellow satin
appliqué is of gold, the outer one next the crimson velvet ground is of
white sewn with pale blue. This gives emphasis to the bold forms of the
leafage. The mid-rib there is of silver couching; the minor veinings are
stitched in silk, and are rather insignificant.


The less there is of extra stitching on appliqué the better as a rule.
It disturbs the breadth, which is so valuable a characteristic of onlay.
In no case is much mixing of methods to be desired; but if appliqué is
to be supplemented, it had best be with couching, which is not so much
stitching as stitched down, itself another form of applied work.

Appliqué of itself is not, of course, adapted to pictorial work, but
that in association with judicious stitching and couching it may be used
to admirable decorative purpose in figure design is shown by Miss Mabel
Keighley's panel, Illustration 61. What an artist may do depends upon
the artist. Miss Keighley's panel indicates the use that may be made of
texture in the stuff onlaid.

Appliqué is especially appropriate to bold church work, fulfilling
perfectly that condition of legibility so desirable in work necessarily
seen oftenest from afar. Broadly designed, it may be as fine in its way
as a piece of mediæval stained glass, and it gives to silk and velvet
their true worth. The pattern may be readable as far off as you can
distinguish colour.

[Illustration: 62. A. COUNTERCHANGE. B. APPLIQUÉ.]

Appliqué work is thought by some to be an inferior kind of embroidery,
which it is not. It is not a lower but another kind of needlework, in
which more is made of the stuff than of the stitching. In it the craft
of the needleworker is not carried to its limit; but, on the other
hand, it makes great demands upon design. You cannot begin by just
throwing about sprays of natural flowers. It calls peremptorily for
treatment--by which test the decorative artist stands or falls.
Effective it must be; coarse it may be; vulgar it should not be; trivial
it can hardly be; mere prettiness is beyond its scope; but it lends
itself to dignity of design and nobility of treatment. Of course, it is
not popular.

A usual form of appliqué is in satin upon velvet. Velvet on satin (B,
Illustration 62) is comparatively rare; but it may be very beautiful,
though there is a danger that it may look like weaving.

Silk upon silk (figured damask) is shown in Illustration 63, designed to
be seen from a nearer point of view, and less pronounced in pattern
accordingly. The strap work, applied in ribbon, is broken by cross
stitches in couples, which take away from the severity of the lines. The
grape bunches are onlaid, each in one piece of silk, the forms of the
separate grapes expressed by couching. The French knots in the centre of
the grapes add greatly to the richness of the surface. The leaves are in
one piece. It would have been possible to use two or three, joining them
at the veins.

[Illustration: 63. APPLIQUÉ--SILK ON SILK DAMASK.]

The application of leather to velvet, as in Illustration 94, allows
modification in the way of execution, and of design adapted to it.
Leather does not fray, and needs, therefore, no sewing over at the edge,
but only sewing down, which may be done, as in this case, well within
the edge of the material, giving the effect of a double outline. The
Chinese do small work in linen, making similar use of the stitching
within the outline, but turning the cut edge of the stuff under; it
would not do to leave it raw. On a bolder scale, but in precisely the
same manner, is embroidered the wonderful tent of François Ier., taken
at the battle of Pavia, and now in the Armoury at Madrid--obviously Arab
work. Something of the kind was done also in Morocco, which points to
leather work as the possible origin of this method.

Another ingenious Chinese notion is to sew down little five-petalled
flowers (turned under at the edges) with long stamen stitches radiating
from a central eye of knots.


A step beyond the process of onlaying is INLAY, where one material is
not laid on to the other, but into it, both being perhaps backed by a
common material. The process is, in fact, precisely analogous to that
inlay of brass and tortoiseshell which goes by the name of its inventor,
Boule. The work is difficult, but thorough. It does not recommend itself
to those who want to get effect cheaply. The process is suited only to
close-textured stuffs, such as cloth, which do not fray.

[Sidenote: TO WORK INLAY.]

The materials are not pasted on to linen, as in the case of appliqué.
The cloth to be inlaid is placed upon the other, and both are cut
through with one action of the knife, so that the parts cannot but fit.
The coherent piece of material (the ground, say, of the pattern) is then
laid upon a piece of strong linen already in a frame; the vacant spaces
in it are filled up by pieces of the other stuff, and all is tacked down
in place. That done, the work is taken out of the frame, and the edges
sewn together. The backing can then, if necessary, be removed; and in
Oriental work it generally was.

Inlay lends itself most invitingly to COUNTERCHANGE in design, as seen
in the stole at A, Illustration 62. Light and dark, ground and pattern,
are there identical. You cannot say either is ground; each forms the
ground to the other. And from the mere fact of the counterchanging you
gather that it is inlaid, and not onlaid.


Prior to inlaying in materials which are at all likely to fray, you
first back them with paper, thin but tough, firmly pasted; then, having
tacked the two together, and pinned them with drawing-pins on to a
board, you slip between it and the stuff a sheet of glass, and with a
very sharp knife (kept sharp by an oilstone at hand) cut out the
pattern. What was cut out of one material has only to be fitted into the
other, and sewn together as before, and you have two pieces of inlaid
work--what is the ground in one forming the pattern in the other, and
_vice versâ_. By this ingenious means there is absolutely no waste of
stuff. You get, moreover, almost invariably a broad and dignified
effect: the process does not lend itself to triviality. It was used by
the Italians, and more especially by the Spaniards of the Renaissance,
who borrowed the idea, of course, from the Arabs.

[Illustration: 64. INLAY IN COLOURED CLOTHS.]

In India they still inlay in cloth most marvellously, not only
counterchanging the pattern, but inlaying the inlays with smaller
patternwork, thus combining great simplicity of effect with wonderful
minuteness of detail. They mask the joins with chain-stitch, the
colour of it artfully chosen with regard to the two colours of the cloth
it divides or joins. Further, they often patch together pieces of this
kind of inlay.

Inlay itself is a sort of PATCHWORK. You cut pieces out of your cloth,
and patch it with pieces of another colour, covering the joins perhaps,
as on Illustration 64, with chain stitch, which gives it some
resemblance to cloisonné enamel, the cloisons being of chain-stitch.

Where there is no one ground stuff to be patched, but a number of
vari-coloured pieces of stuff are sewn together, they form a veritable
Mosaic, reminding one, in coloured stuffs, of what the mediæval glaziers
did in coloured glass. Admirable heraldic work was done in Germany by
this method; and it is still employed for flag making. The stuffs used
should be as nearly as possible of one substance. In patchwork of
loosely-textured material each separate piece of stuff may be cut large,
turned in at the edge, and oversewn on the wrong side.

[Illustration: 65. CUT-WORK IN LINEN.]

The relation of CUT-WORK to inlay is clear--in fact, the one is the
first step towards the other. You have only to stop short of the actual
inlaying, and you have cut-work. Fill up the parts cut out in
Illustration 65 with coloured stuff, and it would be inlay. The
needlewoman has preferred to sew over the raw edges of the stuff, and
give us a perfect piece of FRETWORK in linen. It is part of the game
in cut-work to make the fret coherent, whole in itself. The design
should tell its own tale. "Ties" of buttonhole-stitch, or what not, are
not necessary, provided the designer knows how to plan a fret pattern.
Their introduction brings the work nearer to lace than embroidery. The
sewing-over may be in chain-stitch, satin-stitch (as in Illustration
65), or in buttonhole-stitch--which last is strongest.

As, in the case of appliqué, inlay, and mosaic, an embroidered outline
is usually necessary to cover the join, so in the case of cut-work
sewing-over is necessary to keep the edges from fraying. It may
sometimes be advisable to supplement this outlining by further stitching
to express veining, or give other minute details--just as the
glassworker, when he could not get detail small enough by means of
glazing, had recourse to painting to help him out. But there is danger
in calling in auxiliaries. It is best to design with a view to the
method of work to be employed, and to keep within its limits. To worry
the surface of applied, inlaid, or cut stuff with finnikin stitchery, is
practically to confess either the inadequacy of the design or the
fidgetiness of the worker. It should need, as a rule, no such


Embroidery being work _upon_ a stuff, it is inevitably raised, however
imperceptibly, above the surface of it. But there is a charm in the
unevenness of surface and texture thus produced; and the aim has
consequently often been to make the difference of level between
ground-stuff and embroidery more appreciable by UNDERLAY or padding of
some kind. The abuse of this kind of thing need not blind us to the
advantages it offers.

There are various ways of raising embroidery, the principal of which are
illustrated on the sampler overleaf.

[Sidenote: TO WORK A (66).]

In sprig A the underlay is of closely-woven cloth, darker in colour than
would be advisable except for the purpose of showing what it is: it is
as well in the ordinary way to choose a cloth more or less of the colour
the embroidery is to be. The cloth is cut with sharp scissors carefully
to shape, but a little within the outline, and pasted on to the linen.
When perfectly dry, it is worked over with thick corded silk couched in
the ordinary way.

[Sidenote: TO WORK B.]

The raised line at B reveals the way the stem in Illustration 86 was
worked. Two cords of smooth string (macramé, for example) are twisted
and tacked in place. Over this floss is worked in close satin-stitch.

[Sidenote: TO WORK C.]

In sprig C the underlay is of parchment, lightly stitched in place. The
use of a double underlay in parts gives additional relief. The
embroidery upon this (in slightly twisted silk) is in satin-stitch.

[Sidenote: TO WORK D.]

The leaf shapes at D are padded with cotton wool, cut out as nearly as
possible to the shape required, and tacked down with fine cotton. They
are then worked over with floss in satin-stitch. The stalks are not
padded with cotton wool, but first worked with crewel wool, which, being
soft and elastic, forms an excellent ground for working over in floss

[Sidenote: TO WORK E.]

In working a stalk like that at E, you first lay down a double layer of
soft, thick cotton, and then work over it with flatter cotton (made
expressly for padding) in slanting satin-stitch. Three threads of smooth
round silk are then attached to one side of the padding and carried
diagonally across to the other side, where they are sewn down with
strong thread of the same colour close to the underlay, so that the
stitches may not show. They are then brought back to the side from which
they started, sewn down, and returned again, and so backwards and
forwards to the end. The crossing threads make a sort of pattern, and it
is a point of good workmanship that they should cross regularly. Such
pattern is more obvious when threads of three different shades of colour
are employed. Threads of twisted silk may, of course, be equally well
used this way without padding underneath.

[Illustration: 66. RAISED WORK SAMPLER.]

[Sidenote: TO WORK F.]

In sprig F the underlay is of cardboard, pasted on to the linen. It is
worked over with purse silk, to and fro across the forms, and sewn down
at the margin with finer silk. This is a method of work often employed
when gold thread is used.

[Sidenote: TO WORK G.]

In sprig G the underlay or stuffing is of string, sewn down with
stitches always in the direction of the twist. It is worked over with
floss in satin-stitch.

[Sidenote: TO WORK H.]

In sprig H the underwork consists of stitching in soft cotton, over
which thick silk is embroidered in bullion-stitch. The rule is to work
the first stitching in such a direction that the surface work crosses it
at right angles. The small leaf is worked over with fine purse silk in
satin-stitch, which is used also for the stalk.

In the smaller sampler of laid-work, Illustration 50, the broad stem is
twice underlaid with crewel, excellent for this soft sort of padding, on
account of its elasticity. The leaves have there only one layer of

Raised work in white upon white is often used for purposes which make it
inevitable that sooner or later the work will be washed. That is a
consideration which the embroidress must not leave out of account. In
any case, work over stitchery is more durable than over loose padding
such as cotton wool.


The 15th century work reproduced in Illustration 67 is in flax thread on
linen, and the underlay (laid bare in the topmost flower) is of stiff
linen, sewn down, not at the margins as in the case of the parchment on
the sampler (Illustration 66), but by a row of stitching up the centre
of each petal. The veins of the leaves in Illustration 88 are padded
with embroidery cotton and worked over with filo-floss. The leaves
themselves are not padded, though the sewing down of the veins upon
them, as well as the fact that they are applied on to the velvet ground,
gives some appearance of relief.


Our sampler of raised work is done in silk. Underlaying is more often
used to raise work in gold, to which in most respects it is best suited.
The methods shown in the sampler would answer almost equally well for
gold, except that working in gold one would not at H (66) use
bullion-stitch, but bullion, first covering the underlay of stitching
with smoothly-laid yellow floss.

BULLION consists of closely coiled wire. It is made by winding fine wire
tightly and closely round a core of stouter wire. When this central core
of wire is withdrawn, you have a long hollow tube of spirally twisted
wire. This the embroidress cuts into short lengths as required, and sews
on to the silk--as she would a long bead or bugle. Its use is
illustrated at A in Illustration 51, where the stems of triple gold cord
are tied down at intervals by clasps of bullion, and the leaves, again,
are filled in with the same.

It was the mediæval fashion to encrust the robes of kings and pontiffs
with pearls and precious stones mounted in gold: the early Byzantine
form of crown was practically a velvet cap, on to which were sewn
plaques of gorgeous enamel and mounted stones. When to such work
embroidery was added, it was not unnatural that it should vie with the
gold setting. As a matter of fact, its design was often only a
translation into needlework of the forms proper to the goldsmith.

Yet more openly in rivalry with goldsmiths' work was some of the
embroidery of the Renaissance, in which the idea--a most mistaken one,
of course--seems to have been to imitate beaten metal. This led
inevitably to excessively high relief in gold embroidery. You may see in
17th century church work the height to which relief can be carried, and
the depth to which ecclesiastical taste can sink.

The Spaniards were, perhaps, the greatest sinners in this respect,
seeking, as they did, richness at all cost; but it must be confessed
that, in the 16th century at least, they produced most gorgeous results:
there is in the treasury of the cathedral at Toledo an altar frontal in
gold, silver, and coral, and a yet more beautiful mantle of the Virgin
in silver and pearls upon a gold ground, which make one loth to

[Illustration: 68. RAISED GOLD.]

The preciousness of gold and silver, points, in the nature of things, to
their use for church vestments and the like; and high relief gives, no
doubt, value to the metal; but the consideration of its intrinsic
value leads quickly to display. The artistic value of gold is not so
much that it looks gorgeous as that it glorifies the colour caught, so
to speak, in its meshes.

Admitting that there is reason for relief in gold embroidery--it catches
the light as flat gold does not--one feels that the very slightest
modelling is usually enough. Reference was made (page 136) to the effect
of gilt gesso obtained in raised gold thread: that really is about the
degree of relief it is safe to adopt in gold embroidery, the relief that
is readily got by laying on gesso with a brush, not carving or modelling
it; and the characteristically blunt forms got by that means repeat
themselves when you work with the needle.

There is ample relief in the gold embroidery on Illustrations 68 and 86.
The first of these shows both flat and raised work: the latter
illustrates not only various degrees of relief, but several ways of
underlaying. It scarcely needs pointing out that the flatter serrated
leaves are worked over parchment or paper, and the puffy parts of the
flowers over softer padding. Allusion has already been made (page 159)
to the way the stalk is worked over twisted cords, as on the sampler,
Illustration 66. The patterns in which the gold is worked do not tell
quite so plainly here as on Illustration 68, where the basket pattern is
more pronounced. In the stalk there flat gold wire is used, and again in
the broken surface towards the top of the plate.

SPANGLES of gold may be used with admirable effect, at the risk,
perhaps, of a rather tinselly look; but that has been often most
skilfully avoided both in mediæval work and in Oriental. In India great
and very cunning use is made of spangles, by the Parsees in particular,
who, by the way, embroider with gold wire.

Gold foil may be cut to any shape and sewn on to embroidery, but
spangles take mainly one of two shapes, best distinguished as disc-like
and ring-like. The discs are flat, pierced in the centre, and sewn down
usually with two or three radiating stitches (A, Illustration 51, and
Illustration 67). The rings may be attached by a single thread. They can
easily be made to overlap like fish scales, and most elaborately
embossed pictures have been worked in this way. There is a vestment in
the cathedral at Granada which is a marvel to see; but not the thing to
do, surely.

Relief is easily overdone, in figure work so easily that one may say
safety is to be found only in the most delicate relief. To make figures
look round is to make them look stuffed. That stuffy images are to be
found in mediæval church work is only too true. In Gothic art one finds
this quaint, perhaps, but it is perilously near the laughable. The point
of the ridiculous is plainly overpassed in English work of the 17th
century, which degenerates at last into mere doll work--the dolls duly
stuffed and dressed in most childish fashion, their drapery, in actual
folds, projecting. Some really admirable needlework was wasted upon this
kind of thing, which has absolutely no value, except as an object-lesson
in the frivolity of the Stuarts and their on-hangers.


A most legitimate use of padding is in the form of QUILTING, where it
serves a useful as well as an ornamental purpose. To quilt is to stitch
one cloth upon another with something soft between (or without anything
between). Our word "counterpane" is derived from "contre-poinct," a
corruption of the French word for back-stitch, or "quilting" stitch, as
it was called.

If you merely stitch two thicknesses of stuff together in a pattern,
such as that on Illustration 69, the stuff between the stitches has a
tendency to rise: the two layers of stuff do not lie close except where
they are held together by the stitching, and a very pleasantly uneven
surface results. This effect is enhanced if between the two stuffs there
is a layer of something soft. If, now, you keep down the groundwork of
your design by comparatively frequent stitches diapering it, you get a
pattern in relief, more or less, according to the substance of your

Another way is to pad the pattern only, as in Illustration 70, where the
padding is of soft cord.


A cunning way of padding is first to stitch the outline of the design,
and then from the back to insert the stuffing. You first pierce the
stuff with a stiletto, and, having pushed in the cord, cotton, or what
not, efface as far as possible the piercing: the stuffing has then not
much temptation to escape from its confinement.

The Persians do most elaborate quilting on fine white linen, which they
sew with yellow silk; but the pattern is stuffed with cords of blue
cotton, the colour of which just grins through the white sufficiently to
cool it, and to distinguish it from the creamy white ground made warmer
by the yellow stitching.

Quilting is most often done in white upon colour, or in one colour upon
white. Yellow silk on white linen (as in the case of Illustration 69)
was a favourite combination, and is always a delicate one. But there is
no reason why a variety of colours should not be used in a counterpane.
When you stitch down the ground with coloured silk you give it, of
course, colour as well as flatness.

[Illustration: 70. RAISED QUILTING.]


There are all sorts of ways in which stitches might be
grouped:--according to the order of time in which historically they came
into use; according as they are worked through and through the stuff or
lie mostly on its surface; according as they are conveniently worked in
the hand or necessitate the use of a frame; and in other ways too many
to mention. It is not difficult, for example, to imagine a
classification according to which the satin-stitch in Illustration 71
would figure as a canvas stitch.

In the Samplers they are grouped according to their construction, that
seeming to us the most practical for purposes of description. They might
for other purposes more conveniently be classed some other way. At all
events, it is helpful to group them. Designer and worker alike will go
straighter to the point if once they get clearly into their minds the
stitches and their use, and the range of each--what it can do, what it
can best do, what it can ill do, what it cannot do at all.

Anyone, having mastered the stitches and grasped their scope, can group
them for herself, say, into stitches suited (1) to line work, (2) to
all-over work, (3) to shading, and so on.

These she might again subdivide. Of line stitches, for example, some are
best suited for straight lines, others for curved; some for broad lines,
others for narrow; some for even lines, others for unequal; some for
outlining, others for veining.

And, further, of all-over stitches some give a plain surface, others a
patterned one; some do best for flat surfaces, others for modelled; some
look best in big patches, some answer only for small spaces.

With regard to shading stitches, there are various ways (see the chapter
on shading) of giving gradation of colour and of indicating relief or

Some stitches, of course, are adapted to various uses, as crewel, chain,
and satin stitches--naturally the most in use. Workers generally end in
adopting certain stitches as their own. That is all right, so long as
they do not forget that there are other stitches which might on occasion
serve their purpose. Anyway, they should begin by knowing what stitches
there are. Until they know, and know too what each can do, they are
hardly in a position to determine which of them will best do what they

Our Samplers show the use to which the stitches on them may be put.

[Illustration: 71. SATIN-STITCH IN THE MAKING.]

By way of _résumé_, it may be added that for line work, more or less
fine, crewel, chain, back and rope stitches, and couched cord are most
suitable; crewel for long lines especially, and rope stitch for both
curved and straight lines; for a boundary line, buttonhole is most
emphatic; for broader lines, herring-bone, feather, and Oriental
stitches answer better; ladder-stitch has the advantage of a firm edge
on both sides of it. Satin and chain stitches, couching and laying, and
basket work make good bands, but are not peculiarly adapted to that

For covering broad surfaces, crewel, chain, and satin stitches
(including, of course, what are called long-and-short and plumage
stitches) serve admirably, as does also darning and laid-work; and for
gold thread, couching. French knots do best for small surfaces only. The
stitches most useful for purposes of shading are mentioned later on.

No sort of classification is possible until the number of stitches has
been reduced to the necessary few, and all fancy stitches struck out of
the list. Enquiry should also be made into the title of each stitch to
the name by which it is known; and the names themselves should be
brought down to a minimum.

Reduce them to the fewest any needlewoman will allow, and they are
still, if not too many, more than are logically required. Some of them,
too, describe not stitches, but ways of using a stitch. The term
long-and-short, it has already been explained (page 100), has less to
do with a particular stitch than its proportion, and the term
plumage-stitch refers more to the direction of the stitch than to the
stitch itself. And so with other stitches. It is its oblique direction
only which distinguishes stem-stitch from other short stitches of the
kind. Running, again, amounts to no more than proportioning stitches to
the mesh of the stuff, and taking several of them at one passing of the
needle; and darning is but rows of running side by side. The term
split-stitch describes no new stitch, but a particular treatment to
which a crewel or a satin stitch is submitted.

The foregoing summaries of stitches are only by way of suggestion,
something to set the embroidress thinking for herself. She must choose
her own method; but it would help her, I think, to schedule the stitches
for herself according to her own ways and wants. The most suitable
stitch may not suit every one. Individual preference and individual
aptitude count for something. It is not a question of what is
demonstrably best, but of what best suits you.


The first thing to be settled with regard to the choice of stitch is
whether to employ one stitch throughout, or a variety of stitches. Much
will depend upon the effect desired. Good work has been done in either
way; but one may safely say, in the first place, that it is as well not
to introduce variety of stitch without good cause--there is safety in
simplicity--and in the second, that stitches should be chosen to go
together, in order that the work may look all of a piece. When the
various stitches are well chosen, it is difficult at a glance to
distinguish one from another.

A great variety of stitches in one piece of work is worrying, if not
bewildering. It is as well not to use too many, to keep in the main to
one or two, but not to be afraid of using a third, or a fourth, to do
what the stitch or stitches mainly relied upon cannot do.

[Illustration: 72. STITCHES IN COMBINATION.]

It tends also towards simplicity of effect if you use your stitches with
some system, not haphazard, and in subordination one to the other; there
must be no quarrelling among them for superiority. You should determine,
that is to say, at the outset, which stitch shall be employed for
filling, which for outline; or which for stalks, which for leaves, and
which for flowers. Or, supposing you adopt one general stitch
throughout, and introduce others, you should know why, and make up your
mind to employ your second for emphasis of form, your third for contrast
of texture, or for some other quite definite purpose.

It is not possible here to point out in detail the system on which the
various examples illustrated have been worked; the reader must worry
that out for herself. But one may just point out in passing how well the
various stitches go together in some few instances.

Nothing could be more harmonious, for example, than the combination of
knot, chain, and buttonhole stitches in Illustration 24; or of ladder,
Oriental, herring-bone, and other stitches in Illustration 72. Again, in
Illustration 85 the contrast between satin-stitch in the bird and
couched cord for the clouding is most judicious, as is the knotting of
the bird's crest. Laid floss contrasts, again, admirably with couched
gold in Illustrations 47, 48, 49, and satin-stitch with couching in
Illustration 91, where the gold is reserved mainly for outline, but on
occasion serves to emphasise a detail.


Couched gold and surface satin-stitch are used together again in
Illustration 58, each for its specific purpose. The harmony between
appliqué work and couching or chain-stitch outline has been alluded to

A danger to be kept in view when working in one stitch only is, lest it
should look like a woven textile, as it might if very evenly worked.
Some kinds of embroidery seem hardly worth doing nowadays, because they
suggest the loom. That may be a reason for some complexity of stitch, in
which lurks that other danger of losing simplicity and breadth. The
lace-like appearance of the needlework upon fine linen in Illustration
73, results chiefly from the extraordinary delicacy with which it is
done, but it owes something also to the variety of stitch and of
stitch-pattern employed in it.


The use of outline in embroidery hardly needs pointing out. It is often
the obvious way of defining a pattern, as, for example, where there is
only a faint difference in depth of tint between the pattern and its
background; in appliqué work it is necessary to mask the joins; and it
is by itself a delightful means of diapering a surface with not too
obtrusive pattern.

Allusion to the stitches suitable to outline has been made already (see
stitch-groups), as well as to the colour of outlining, _à propos_ of
appliqué. It is difficult to overrate the importance of this question of
colour in the case of outline; but there are no rules to be laid down,
except that a coloured outline is nearly always preferable to a black
one. The Germans of the 16th century were given to indulging in black
outlines, and you may see in their work how it hardened the effect,
whereas a coloured outline may define without harshness. The Spaniards,
on the other hand, realised the value of colour, and would, for example,
outline gold and silver upon a dark green ground in red, with admirable
effect. A double outline, for which there is often opportunity in bold
work, may be turned to good account. Among the successful combinations
which come to mind is an appliqué pattern in yellow and white upon dark
green, outlined first with gold cord, and then, next the green, with a
paler and brighter green. Another is a pattern chiefly in yellow upon
purple, outlined first with yellow couched with gold, and next the
ground with silver. In the case of couched cord or gold, the colour of
the stitching counts also.

Stitches from the edge of a leaf or what not, inwards, alternately long
and short, though they form an edge to the leaf, are not properly
outlining. This is rather a stopping short of solid work than outlining,
though it often goes by that name.

The first condition of a good outline stitch is that it should be, as it
were, supple, so as to follow the flow of the form. At the same time it
should be firm. Fancy stitches look fussy; and a spikey outline is worse
than none at all.

There is absolutely no substantial ground for the theory that outlines
should be worked in a stitch not used elsewhere in the work. On the
contrary, it is a good rule not to introduce extra stitches into the
work unless they give something which the stitches already employed will
not give. The simplest way is always safest.

An outline affords a ready means of clearing up edges; but it should not
be looked upon merely as a device for the disguise of slovenliness.
Unless the colour scheme should necessitate an outline, an embroidress,
sure of her skill, will often prefer not to outline her work, and to get
even the drawing lines within the pattern, by VOIDING. She will leave,
that is to say, a line of ground-stuff clear between the petals of her
flowers, or what not; which line, by the way, should be narrower than it
is meant to appear, as it looks always broader than it is. It is more
difficult, it must be owned, thus to work along two sides of a line of
ground-stuff than to work a single line of stitching, but it is within
the compass of any skilled worker; and skilled workers have delighted in
voiding even when their work was on a small scale necessitating fine
lines of voiding (Illustrations 39 and 40).

In work on a bold scale there is no difficulty about it; and it would be
remarkable that it is so seldom used, were it not that the uncertain
worker likes to have a chance of clearing up ragged edges, and that
voiding implies a broader and more dignified treatment of design than it
is the fashion to affect.


One arrives inevitably at gradation of colour in embroidery; the
question is how best to get it. But, before mentioning the ways in which
it may be got, it seems necessary to protest that shading is not a
matter of course. Perfectly beautiful work may be done, and ought more
often to be done, in merely flat needlework; the gloss of the silk and
its varying colour as it catches the light according to the direction of
the stitching, are quite enough to prevent a monotonously flat effect.

Still, embroidery affords such scope for gradation of colour, not,
practically, to be got by any process of weaving, that a colourist may
well revel in the delights of colour which silks of various dyes allow.
And so long as colour is the end in view there is not much danger that a
colourist will go wrong.


The use of shading in embroidery is rather to get gradation of colour
than relief of form. As to the stitch to be employed, that is partly a
personal matter, partly a question of what is to be done. The stitch
must be adapted to the kind of shading, or the shading must be
designed to suit the stitch. It makes all the difference in the world,
whether your shading is deliberately done, or whether one shade is meant
to merge into another. In the best work it is always done with decision.
There is nothing vague or casual, for example, about the shading of Mr.
Crane's animals on Illustration 74. Everywhere the shading is _drawn_,
either in lines or as a sharply defined mass. Given a drawing in which
the shadows are properly planned and crisply drawn like that, and you
may use what stitch you please.

[Illustration: 75. SHADING IN CHAIN-STITCH.]

The more natural way of shading is to let the stitches follow the lines
of the drawing, and so make use of them to express form, as with the
strokes of the pen or pencil upon paper. Thus, in mediæval figurework
prior to the 15th century, the faces were usually done in split stitch,
worked concentrically from the middle of the cheek outward, and so
suggesting the roundness of the face (Illustration 87). But just as
there is a system of shading according to which the draughtsman makes
all his strokes in one direction (slanting usually), so the embroidress
may, if she prefer, take her stitches all one way; and in the 15th and
16th centuries the fashion was to work flesh in short-satin stitches
always in the vertical direction (Illustration 79). The term
"long-and-short-stitch" is frequently used by way of describing the
stitch. It does not, as I have said, help us much. The stitches are in
the first place only satin-stitches worked not in even rows, as in
Illustration 40, but so that there is no line of demarcation between one
row and another. And this, in the case of gradated colour, makes the
shading softer. The words long-and-short apply strictly only to the
outer row of stitches. You begin, that is to say, with alternately long
and short stitches. If you work after that with stitches of equal
length, they necessarily alternate or dovetail. If the form to be worked
necessitates radiation in the stitching, there results a texture
something like the feathering of a bird's breast (Illustration 85),
whence the name plumage-stitch, another term describing not so much a
stitch as the use of a stitch.

No matter what the stitch, one must be able to draw in order to express
form: it is rather more difficult to draw with a needle than with a pen,
that is all. True, the designer may do that for you, and make such a
workmanlike drawing that there is no mistaking it; but it takes a
skilled draughtsman to do it.

[Illustration: 76. SHADING IN SHORT STITCHES.]

In flattish decorative work, where the drawing is in firm lines, as in
Illustration 87, the task of the embroidress is relatively easy--there
is not much shading, for example, in the drapery of King Abias, and the
vine leaves are merely worked with yellower green towards the edges.
Even where there is strong shading, a draughtsman who knows his
business may make shading easy by drawing his shadows with firm
outlines. The taste of the artist who designed the roses in Illustration
75 is too pictorial to win the heart of any one with a leaning towards
severity of design; too much relief is sought; but the way he has got it
shows the master workman; he has deliberately laid in _flat_ washes of
colour, each with its precise outline, which the worker had only to
follow faithfully with flat tambour work. A design like that, given the
working drawing, asks little of the worker beyond patient care: of the
designer it asks considerable knowledge.

A yet more pictorial effect is produced in much the same way, this time
in satin stitch, in Illustration 76. The artist has for the most part
drawn his shadows with crisp brush strokes, which the worker had no
difficulty in following; but there is some rounding of the birds' bodies
which a merely mechanical worker could not have got. In fact, there are
indications that this is the work more of a painter than of an
embroidress, who would have acknowledged by her stitches the feathering
of the birds' necks as well as their roundness.


You can embroider, of course, without knowing much about drawing; but
you cannot go far in the direction of shading (not drawn for you, or
only vaguely drawn) without the appreciation of form which comes only of
knowing and understanding. There is evidence of such knowledge and
understanding in the working of the lion in Illustration 77. That is
not a triumph of even stitching; but it is a triumph of drawing with the
needle. The short satin and split stitches are not placed with the
regularity so dear to the human machine, but they express the design
perfectly. The embroiderer of that lion was an artist, perhaps the
artist who designed it. "It might be a _man's_ work," was the verdict of
an embroidress. At all events it is the work of some one who could draw,
and only a draughtsman or draughtswoman could have worked it.

This is not said wholly in praise of shading. Embroidery ought, for the
most part, to do very well without it. The point to insist upon is that,
if shading is employed at all, it should mean something, and not be mere
fumbling after form.

The charm of shading in embroidery is not the roundness of form which
you get, but the gradation of colour which it gives. This may be very
delicately and subtly got by split-stitch, which renders that stitch so
valuable in the rendering of flesh tints. But the blending of colour
into colour which is universally admired is not quite so admirable as
people think. One may easily employ too many shades of colour, easily
merge them too imperceptibly one into the other, getting only unmeaning
softness. An artist prefers to see few shades employed, and those chosen
with judgment and placed with deliberate intention. If they mean
something, there is no harm in letting it be seen where they meet: broad
masses give breadth: vagueness generally means ignorance. That is,
perhaps, why one dislikes it, and why it is so common.


To an accomplished needlewoman embroidery offers every scope for art,
short of the pictorial; and the artist is not only justified in
lavishing work upon it, but often bound to do so, more especially when
it comes to working with materials in themselves rich and costly. A
beautiful material, if you are to better it (and if not why work upon it
at all?), must be beautifully worked. Costly material is worth precious
work; and there should be by rights a preciousness about the needlework
employed upon it, preciousness of design and of execution. To put the
value into the material is mere vulgarity.

It seems to an artist almost to go without saying, that the labour on
work claiming to be art should be in excess of the value of the stuff
which goes to make it. What we really prize is the hand work and the
brain work of the artist; and the more precious the stuff he employs,
the more strictly he is bound to make artistic use of it. I do not mean
by that _pictorial_ use. You can get, no doubt, with the needle effects
more or less pictorial--most often less; but, when got, they are usually
at the best rather inferior to the picture of which they are a copy.

Work done should be better always than the design for it, which was a
project only, a promise. The fulfilment should be something more. A
design of which the promise is not likely to be fulfilled in the
working-out is, for its purpose, ill-designed. To say that you would
rather have the drawing from which it was done (and that is what you
feel about "needle pictures") is most severely to condemn either the
designer or the worker, or perhaps both. Only a competent figure
painter, for example, can be trusted to render flesh with the needle;
her success is in proportion to her skill with the implement, but in any
case less than what might be achieved in painting: then why choose the

Admitting that a painter who by choice or chance takes to the needle may
paint with it satisfactorily enough, that does not go to prove the
needle a likely tool to paint with. It is anything but that. There was
never a greater mistake than to suppose, as some do who should know
better, that, to raise embroidery to the rank of art, figure work is
necessary. The truth is that only by rare exception does embroidered
figure work rise to the rank of art: the rule is that it is degraded,
the more surely as it aims at picture. And that is why, for all that has
been done in the way of wonderful picture work, say by the Italians and
the Flemings of the Early Renaissance, the pictorial is not the form of
design best suited to embroidery.

Needlework, like any other decorative craft, demands treatment in the
design, and the human figure submits less humbly to the necessary
modification than other forms of life. Animals, for instance, lend
themselves more readily to it, and so do birds; fur and feathers are
obviously translatable into stitches. Leaves and flowers accommodate
themselves perhaps better still; but each is best when it is only the
motive, not the model, of design. If only, then, on account of the
greater difficulty in treating it, the figure is not the form of design
most likely to do credit to the needle, and it is absurd to argue that,
figure work being the noblest form of design, therefore the noblest form
of embroidery must include it.

The embroidress entirely in sympathy with her materials will not want
telling that the needle lends itself better to forms less fixed in their
proportions than the human figure; the decorator will feel that there is
about fine ornament a nobility of its own which stands in need of no
pictorial support; the unbiassed critic will admit that figure design of
any but the most severely decorative kind is really outside the scope of
needle and thread; and that the desire to introduce it arises, not out
of craftsmanlikeness, but out of an ambition which does not pay much
regard to the conditions proper to needlework. Those conditions should
be a law to the needlewoman. What though she be a painter too? She is
painting now with a needle. It is futile to attempt what could be better
done with a brush. She should be content to work the way of the needle.
Common sense asks that much at least of loyalty to the art she has
chosen to adopt.

Wonderful and almost incredibly pictorial effects have been obtained
with the needle; but that does not mean to say it was a wise thing to
attempt them. The result may be astonishing and yet not worth the pains.
The pains of flesh-painting with the needle (if not the impossibility of
it for all practical purposes) is confessed by the habit which arose of
actually painting the flesh in water colour upon satin. Paint on satin,
if you like. There may be occasions when there is no time to stitch, and
it is necessary for some ceremonial and more or less theatric purpose to
paint what had better have been worked. The more frankly such work
acknowledges its temporary and makeshift character the better. Scene
painting is art, until you are asked to take it for landscape painting.
Anyway, the mixture of painting and embroidery is not to be endured; and
it is a poor-spirited embroidress who will thus confess her weakness and
call on painting to help her out. It does not even do that, it fails
absolutely to produce the desired effect. The painting quarrels with
the stitching, and there is after all no semblance of that unity which
is the very essence of picture.

[Illustration: 78. CHINESE CHAIN-STITCHING.]

An instance of painted flesh occurs upon Illustration 91. Can any one,
in view of the bordering to the picture, doubt that the worker had much
better have kept to what she could do, and do perfectly, ornament? An
example, on the other hand, of what may be done in the way of expressing
action in the fewest and simplest chain stitches (if only you know the
form you want to represent and can manage your needle) is given in the
wee figures in the landscape above (78).


In speaking of the necessary treatment of the human figure (as of other
natural form) in needlework, it is not meant to contend that there is
one only way of treating it consistently, or that there are no more
than two or three ways. There are various ways, some no doubt yet to be
devised, but they must be the ways of the needle. The flesh, of course,
is the main difficulty. A Gothic practice, and not the least happy one,
was to show the flesh in the naked linen of the ground, only just
working the outlines of the features in black or brown. Another way was
to work the face in split stitch, as already explained, and over that
the markings of the features, the fine lines in short satin-stitches,
the broader in split-stitch, as shown in the figure of King Abias in
Illustration 87.

The general treatment of the figure there is of course in the manner of
the 14th century, better suited, from its severe simplicity, for
rendering in needlework than later and more pictorial forms of
composition. That needlework can, however, in capable hands, go farther
than that is shown in Illustration 79, a rather threadbare specimen of
15th century work, in which the character of the man's face is admirably
expressed. It is first worked in short, straight stitches, all of white,
and over that the drawing lines are worked in brown. The artist gets her
effect in the simplest possible way, and apparently with the greatest


More like painting is the head in Illustration 80, worked in short
stitches of various shades, which give something of the colour as well
as the modelling of flesh. This is a triumph in its way. It goes about
as far as the needle can go, and further than, except under rare
conditions, it ought to go. But it may do that and yet be needlework.

Equally wonderful in their miniature way are the faces of the little
people on Illustration 81, about the size of your finger nail. They are
worked in solid satin-stitch, and the two layers of silk (back and
front) give a substance fairly thick but at the same time yielding, so
that when the stitches for the mouth and eyes are sewn tightly over it
they sink in, and, as it were, push up the floss between and give
relief. The nose is worked in extra satin-stitch over the other, and the
slight depression at the end of the stitch gives lines of drawing. This
trenches upon modelling, but, on such a minute scale, does not amount to
very pronounced departure from the flat. The method employed does not
lend itself to larger work.

The last word on the question as to what one may do with the needle is,
that you may do what you _can_; but it is best to seek by means of it
what it can best do, and always to make much of the texture of silk, and
of the quality of pure and lustrous colour which it gives--in short, to
work _with_ your materials.

[Illustration: 81. CHINESE FIGURES.]


The effect of any stitch is vastly varied, according to the use made of
it. Satin-stitch, it was shown (38), worked in twisted silk, ceases to
have any appearance of satin; and it makes all the difference whether
the stitches are long or short, close together or wide apart. More
important than all is the direction of the stitch. By that alone you can
recognise the artist in needlework.

The DIRECTION of the stitch deserves consideration from two points of
view--that of colour and that of form. First as to colour. It is not
sufficiently realised that every alteration in the direction of the
stitch means variety of tone, if not of tint. Take a feather in your
hand, and turn it about, so that now one side of the quill now the other
catches the light; or notice the alternate stripes of brighter and
greyer green on a fresh-trimmed lawn, where the roller has bent the
blades of grass first this way and then that. So it is with the colour
of silken stitches. The pattern opposite (82) looks as if it had been
embroidered in two shades of silk; in the work itself it has still more
that appearance; but it is all in one shade of brownish gold: the
difference which you see is merely the effect of light upon it. The
horizontal stitches, as it happens, catch the light; the vertical ones
do not. Had the light come from a different point, the effect might have
been reversed. If there had been diagonal stitches from right to left,
they would have given a third tint; and, if there had been others from
left to right, they would have given a fourth.


Suppose a pattern in which the leaves were worked horizontally, the
flowers vertically, and the stalks in the direction of their growth, all
in one stitch and in one colour, there would be a very appreciable
difference in tone between leaves, flowers, and stalks. In gold, the
difference would be yet more striking. And that is one reason why gold
backgrounds are worked in diapers; not so much for the sake of pattern
as to get variety of broken tint.

In the famous Syon Cope the direction of the stitching is frankly
independent of the design. That is to say, that, while the pattern
radiates naturally from the neck, the stitches do not follow suit, but
go all one way--the way of the stuff. This, though rather a brutal
solution of the difficulty, saves all afterthought as to what direction
the stitches shall take; but it has very much the effect of weaving. The
embroiderer of the 13th century was not afraid of that (aimed at it,
perhaps?), and was, apparently, afraid of letting go the leading strings
of warp and weft.

When stitches follow the direction of the form embroidered,
accommodating themselves to it, all manner of subtle change of tone
results. You get, not only variety of colour, but more than a suggestion
of form.

That is the second point to be considered.


The direction taken by the stitch always helps to explain the drawing;
or, if the needlewoman cannot draw, to show that she cannot--as, for
example, in the tulip herewith (83). A less intelligent management of
the stitch it would be hard to find. The needlestrokes, far from helping
in the very slightest degree to explain the folding over of the petals,
directly contradict the drawing. The flower might almost have been
designed to show how not to do it; but it is a piece of old work, quite
seriously done, only without knowing. The embroidress is free, of
course, to work her stitches in a direction which does not express form
at all, so as to give a flat tint, in which is no hint of modelling; but
the intention is here quite obviously naturalistic. The rendering below
(84) shows the direction the stitches should have taken. The turn-over
of the petals is even there not very clearly expressed, but that is the
fault of the drawing (very much on a par with the workmanship), from
which it would not have been fair to depart.


A more clever fulfilment of the naturalistic intention is to be seen in
Illustration 76. The drawing of the doves is in the rather loose manner
of the period of Marie Antoinette; but the treatment of the stitch is
clever in its way--the way, as I have said, rather of painting than of
embroidery, giving as it does the roundness of the birds' bodies but no
hint of actual feathering, such as you find in the bird in Illustration
85. There, every stitch helps to explain the feathering. By a discreet
use of what I must persist in calling the same stitch (that is,
satin-stitch and the variety of it called plumage-stitch) the
embroiderer has rendered with equal perfection the sweep of the broad
wing feathers and the fluffy feathering of the breast. It is by means of
the direction of the stitch, too, that the drawing of the neck is so
perfectly rendered.


The direction of the stitch is varied to some purpose in the head in
Illustration 80, where the flesh is all in straight upright stitches,
whilst the hair is stitched in the direction of its growth.

The five petals on the satin-stitch sampler (Illustration 36)--to
descend from the masterly to the elementary--show something of the
difference it makes in what direction the stitch is worked. It matters
more, of course, in some stitches than in others; but in most cases the
direction of the stitch suggests form, and needs accordingly to be

It scarcely needs further pointing out how the direction of the stitch
may help to explain the construction of the form, as in the case of
leaves, for example, where the veining may be suggested; or of stalks,
where the fibre may be indicated. There is no law as to the direction of
stitch, except that it should be considered. You may follow the
direction of the forms, you may cross them, you may deliberately lay
your stitches in the most arbitrary manner; but, whatever you do, you
must do it with intelligent purpose. An artist or a workwoman can tell
at once whether your stitch was laid just so because you meant it or
because you knew no better.

Having laid your stitches deliberately, it is best to leave them, and
not to work over them with other stitching. Stitching over stitching was
resorted to whenever elaboration was the fashion; but the simpler and
more direct method is the best. The way the veins are laid in cord over
the satin-stitch in the lotus leaves in Illustration 40 is the one fault
to be found with an all but perfect piece of work.

The stitching over the laid silver mid-rib in Illustration 92 is better
judged. It may be said, generally speaking, that except where, as in the
case of laid-work, the first stitching was done in anticipation of a
second, and the work would be incomplete without it, stitching over
stitches should be indulged in only with moderation.

Stitching is sometimes done not merely over stitches, but upon the
surface of them, not penetrating the ground-stuff. Unless, in such a
case, the first stitching is of such compact character as to want no
strengthening, it amounts almost to a sin against practicality not to
take advantage of the second stitching to make it firmer.


It is customary to draw a distinction between church, or ecclesiastical
as it is called, and other embroidery; but it is a distinction without
much difference. Certain kinds of work are doubtless best suited to the
dignity of church ceremonial, and to the breadth of architectural
decoration; accordingly, certain processes of work have been adopted for
church purposes, and are taken as a matter of course--too much as a
matter of course. The fact is, work precisely like that employed on
vestments and the like (Illustration 86) was used also for the caparison
of horses and other equally profane purposes.

[Illustration: 86. RENAISSANCE CHURCH WORK.]

Practical considerations, alike of ceremonial and decoration, make it
imperative that church work should be effective: religious sentiment
insists that it should be of the best and richest, unsparingly, and even
lavishly given; common sense dictates that the loving labour spent upon
it should not be lost. And these and other such considerations involve
methods of work which, by constant use for church purposes, have come to
be classed as ecclesiastical embroidery. But there is no consecrated
stitch, no stitch exclusively belonging to the church, none probably
invented by it. For embroidery is a primitive art--clothes were stitched
before ever churches were furnished; and European methods of embroidery
are all derived from Oriental work, which found its way westwards at a
very early date. Phrygia (sometimes credited with the invention of
embroidery) passed it on to Greece, and Greece to Italy, the gate of
European art.

Christianity produced new forms of design, but not new ways of work. The
methods adopted in the nunneries of the West were those which had
already been perfected in the harems of the East.

Embroidery for the church must naturally take count of the church, both
as a building and as a place of worship; but, as apart from all other
needlework, there is no such thing as church embroidery; and the
branding of one very dull kind of thing with that name is in the
interest neither of art nor of the church, but only of business.
"Ecclesiastical art" is just a trade-term, covering a vast amount of
soulless work. There is in the nature of things no reason why art should
be reserved for secular purposes, and only manufacture be encouraged by
the clergy. The test of fitness for religious service is religious
feeling; but that is hardly more likely to be found in the output of the
church furnisher (trade patterns overladen with stock symbols), than in
the stitching of the devout needlewoman, working for the glory of God,
in whose service of old the best work was done.

Many of the examples of old work given on these pages are from church
vestments, altar furniture, and the like; information on that point will
be found in the descriptive index of illustrations at the beginning of
the book; but they are here discussed from the point of view of
workmanship, with as little reference as possible to religious or other
use: that is a question apart from art.

The distinguishing features of church work should be, in the first
place, its devotional spirit, and, in the second, its consummate
workmanship. In it, indeed, we might expect to find work beyond the
rivalry of trade controlled by conditions of time and money. Even then
it would be but the more perfect expression of the same art which in its
degree ennobled things of civic and domestic use.

Church embroidery, as usually practised in these days, is not only the
most frigid and rigid in design, but the hardest and most mechanical in
execution--which last arises in great part from the way it is done. It
is not embroidered straight upon the silk or velvet which forms the
groundwork of the design, but separately on linen. The pattern thus
worked is cut out, and either pasted straight on to the ground-stuff,
or, if the linen is at all loose, first mounted on thin paper and then
cut out and pasted on to the velvet, where it is kept under pressure
until it is dry. In either case the edges have eventually to be worked

This habit of working on linen or canvas and applying the embroidery
ready worked on to the richer stuff, though early used on occasion, does
not seem to have been common until a period when manufacture generally
usurped the place of art. The work in Illustration 87 was done directly
on to the silk. In the latter half of the 18th century there was a
regular trade in embroidery ready to sew on, by which means purveyors
could turn out in a day or two what would have taken months to

Even if it had been the invariable mediæval practice to work sprays or
what not upon canvas and apply them bodily to the velvet, that would not
make it the more workmanlike or straightforward way of working. If
needle stitches are the ostensible means of getting an effect upon a
stuff, it seems only right they should be stitched upon that stuff. To
work the details apart and then clap them on to it, stands to embroidery
very much in the relation of hedge-carpentering to joinery. Nor is it
usually happy in result. Occasionally, as in the case of Miss C. P.
Shrewsbury's vine-leaf pattern (Illustration 88), it disarms criticism.
More often it looks stuck-on. A way of avoiding that look is to add
judicious after-stitching on the stuff itself; and this must not be
confined to the sewing on or outlining merely, but allowed to wander
playfully over the field, so as to draw your eye away from the margin of
the applied patch, and lead you to infer that, some of the needlework
being obviously done on the velvet, all of it is. But to disguise in
this way the line of demarcation, even if you succeed in doing it, is at
best the art of prevarication.

[Illustration: 87. GOTHIC CHURCH WORK.]

No doubt it is difficult to work upon velvet. The stuff is not very
sympathetic, and the stitching has a way of sinking into the pile, and
being, as it were, drowned in it. But the trailing spirals of
split-stitch which play about the applied spots in many a mediæval altar
cloth hold their own quite well enough to show that silk can be worked
straight on to the velvet.

That gold may be equally well worked straight on to velvet may be seen
in any Indian saddle cloth. Heavy work of this kind may be rather man's
work than woman's; but that is not the point. The question is, how to
get the best results; and the answer is, by working on the stuff.

It may be argued that in this way you cannot get very high relief; but
the occasions for high relief are, at the best, rare. If you want actual
modelling, as in the Spanish work referred to in a previous chapter,
that must, of course, be worked separately, built up, as it were, upon
the canvas and worked over. And there is no reason why it should not,
for in no case does it appear to be stitching. In fact, it aims
deliberately at the effect of chased and beaten metal.


Heavy appliqué of any kind affects, of course, not only the thickness
but the flexibility of the material thus enriched--an important
consideration if it is meant to hang in folds.


The simplest patterns are by no means the least beautiful. It is too
much the fashion to underrate the artistic value of the less pretentious
forms of needlework, and especially of flat ornament, which
has, nevertheless, its own very important place in decoration. As for
geometric pattern, that is quite beneath consideration--it is so
mechanical! Mechanical is a word as easily spoken as another; but if
needlework is mechanical, that is more often the fault of the
needlewoman than of the mechanism she employs. The Orientals, who
indulged so freely in geometric device, were the least mechanical of
workers. It is our rigid way of working it which robs geometric ornament
of its charm. The needleworker has less than ever occasion to be afraid
of geometric pattern; for it is peculiarly difficult to get in it that
appearance of rule-and-compass-work which makes ornament so dull.

The one real objection to geometric pattern is that it is nowadays so
cheaply and so mechanically got by _weaving_ that, however freely it may
be rendered, there is a danger of its suggesting mechanical production,
which embroidery emphatically ought not to do. There is a similar
objection nowadays to some stitches, such, for example, as chain-stitch
and back-stitch, which suggest the sewing-machine.

Embroidery does not to-day take quite the place it once did. It was
used, for example, by the early Coptic Christians to supplement
tapestry. That is to say, what they could not weave they stitched; it
was only to get more delicate detail than their tapestry loom would
allow, that they had recourse to the needle. Needlework was, in fact, an
adjunct to weaving. Later, in mediæval times, the Germans of Cologne,
for their church vestments and the like, wove what they could, and
enriched their woven figures with embroidery.

Again, a great deal of Oriental embroidery, and of peasant work
everywhere, is merely the result of circumstances. Where money is scarce
and time is of no account, it answers a woman's purpose to do for
herself with her needle what might in some respects be even better done
on the loom. Her preference for handwork is not that it has artistic
possibilities, but that it costs her less. She would in many cases
prefer the more mechanically produced fabric, if she could get it at the
same price. We do not find that Orientals reject the productions of the
power-loom--which they would do if they had the artistic instincts with
which we credit them.

[Illustration: 89. SIMPLE STITCHING ON LINEN.]

It results from our conditions of to-day that there are some kinds of
needlework we admire, which yet are not worth our doing, such, for
example, as the all-over work, which does not amount to more than simple
diaper, and which really is not so much embroidering on a textile as
converting it into one of another kind. Glorified instances of this kind
of work occur in the shawl work of Cashmere, and in those beautiful bits
of Persian stitching which remind one of carpet-work in miniature, if
they are not in fact related to carpet-weaving.

Embroidery was at one time the readiest, and practically the only, means
of getting enrichment of certain kinds. To-day we get machine
embroidery. As machinery is perfected, and learns to do what formerly
could be done only by the needle, hand-workers get pushed aside and fall
out of work. Their chance is, in keeping always in advance of the
machine. There is this hope for them, that the monotony of machine-made
things produces in the end a reaction in favour of handwork--provided
always it gives us something which manufacture cannot. Possibly also
there is scope for amateurs and home-artists in that combination of
embroidery and hand-weaving with which the power-loom, though it has
superseded it, does not enter into competition.

[Illustration: 90. SIMPLE COUCHING ON LINEN.]

It is not so much for geometric ornament as for simple pattern that I
here make my plea, for that reticent work of which so much was at one
time done in this country--mere back-stitching, for example, or what
looks like it, in yellow silk upon white linen; or the modest diaper,
archaic, if you like, but inevitably characteristic, in which the
naïveté of the sampler seems always to linger; or again, the admirably
simple work in Illustration 89. This last does not show so delicately in
the photographic reproduction as it should, because, being in grey and
yellow on white linen, the relative value of the two shades of colour is
lost in the process. In the original the broader yellow bands are much
more in tone with the ground, and do not assert themselves so much. Such
as it is, only an artist could have designed that border-work, and any
neat-handed woman could have embroidered it.

Think again of the delicate work in white on white, too familiar to need
illustration, which makes no loud claim to be art, but is content to be
beautiful! Is that to be a thing altogether of the past now that we have
Art Needlework? Art needlework! It has helped put an end to the patience
of the modern worker, and to inspire her too often with ambitions quite
beyond her powers of fulfilment.

What one misses in the work of the present day is that reticent and
unpretending stitchery, which, thinking to be no more than a labour of
loving patience, is really a work of art, better deserving the title
than a flaunting floral quilt which goes by the name of "art
needlework"--designed apparently to worry the eye by day and to give bad
dreams by night to whoever may have the misfortune to sleep under it. Is
anyone nowadays modest enough to do work such as the couching in outline
in Illustration 90? Yet what distinction there is about it!


Perfect art results only when designer and worker are entirely in
sympathy, when the designer knows quite what the worker can do with her
materials, and when the worker not only understands what the designer
meant, but feels with him. And it is the test of a practical designer
that he not only knows the conditions under which his design is to be
carried out, but is ready to submit to them.

The distinction here made between designer and embroiderer is not
casual, but afore-thought, notwithstanding the division of labour it
implies. Enthusiasm has a habit of outrunning reason. Because in some
branches of industry subdivision of labour has been carried to absurd
excess, it is the fashion to demand in all branches of it the autograph
work of one person, which is no less absurd. To try and link together
faculties which Nature has for the most part put asunder, is futile.

That designer and worker should be one and the same person is an ideal,
but one only very occasionally fulfilled. When that happens
(Illustrations 61 and 88) it is well. But the attempt to realise it
commonly works out in one of two ways: either a good design is spoilt in
the working for want of executive skill on the part of the designer, or
good workmanship is spent on poor design, as good, perhaps, as one has
any right to expect of a skilled needleworker.

The fact is, you can only make out all the world to be designers by
reducing design to what all the world can do. And that is not much.
There is a point of view from which it does not amount to design at all.

The study of design forms part of the education of an embroidress, not
so much that she may design what she works, but that she may know in the
first place what good design is, and, in the second, be equal to the
ever-recurring occasion when a design has to be modified or adapted. If,
in thus manipulating design not hers, she should discover a faculty of
invention, she will want no telling to exercise it. A designer wants no
encouragement to design--she designs.

There would be no occasion to insist upon this, were it not for the
prevalence at the present moment of the idea that a worker, in whatever
art or handicraft, is in artistic duty bound to design whatever she puts
hand to do. That is a theory as false as it is unkind; let no
embroidress be discouraged by it. Let her, unless she is inwardly
impelled to invent, remain content to do good needlework. That is her
art. Her business as an artist is to make beautiful things. Co-operation
in the making of them is no crime.

And what, then, about originality? Originality is a gift beyond price.
But it is not a thing which even the designer should struggle after. It
comes, if it is there. There is a revengeful consolation for the pain we
suffer from design about us writhing to be up-to-date, in the thought
that its contortions tell what pain it cost to do. The birth of beauty
is a less agonising travail; and the thing to seek is beauty, not
novelty. Whoever planned the lines of the border in Illustration 91, or
treated the leafage in Illustration 92, was not trying to be original,
but determined to do his best. Artists and workers of individuality and
character are themselves, without being so much as aware that
originality has gone out of them.

[Illustration: 91. RENAISSANCE ORNAMENT.]

To assume, then, that every needlewoman is, or can ever be, competent to
design what she embroiders, is to make very small account of design. How
is it possible to take design seriously and yet think it is to be
mastered without years of patient study, which few workwomen can or will
devote to it? Any cultivated woman may for herself invent (if it is to
be called invention) something better worth working than is to be bought
ready to work. And that may do for many purposes, so long as it does not
claim to be more than it is; but in the case of really important work,
to be executed at considerable cost not only of material, but of patient
labour, surely it is worth giving serious thought to its design. The
scant consideration commonly given to it shows how little the worker is
in earnest. Or has she thought? And is she persuaded that her artless
spray of flowers, or the ironed-off pattern she has bought, is all that
art could be? It would be rude to tell her she was wasting silk! How
should she know?

The only way of knowing is to study, to look at good work, old work by
preference; it is worth no one's while to praise that unduly. And if in
all that is now so readily accessible she finds nothing to admire,
nothing which appeals to her, nothing which inspires her, then her case
is hopeless. If, on the other hand, she finds only so much as one style
of work sympathetic to her, studies that, lets its spirit sink into her,
tries to do something worthy of it, then she is on the right road.
Measure yourself with the best, not with the common run of work; and if
that should put you out of conceit with your own work, no great harm is
done; sooner or later you have got to come to a modest opinion of
yourself, if ever you are to do even moderate things.


But the "best" above referred to does not necessarily mean the most
masterly. The best of a simple kind is not calculated to discourage
anyone--rather, it looks as if it must be easy to do that; and in trying
to do it you learn how much goes to the doing it. Good design need not
be of any great importance or pretensions. It may be quite simple, if
only it is right; if the lines are true, the colour harmonious; if it is
adapted to its place, to its use and purpose, to execution not only with
the needle but in the particular kind of needlework to be employed.

There has of late years been something of a revival of needlework design
in schools of art, and some very promising and even most accomplished
work has been done; but in many instances, as it seems to me, it is
rather design which has been translated into needlework, than design
clearly made for execution with the needle. A really appropriate and
practical design for embroidery should be schemed not merely with a view
to its execution with the needle, but with a view to its execution in a
particular stitch or stitches--and possibly by a particular embroidress.
To be safe in designing work so minute as that on Illustration 93, one
must be sure of the needlewoman who is to execute it.


My reference to old work must not be taken to imply that design should
be in imitation of what has been done, or that it should follow on those
lines. Design was once upon a time traditional; but the chain of
tradition has snapped, and now conscious design must be eclectic--that
is to say, one must study old work to see what has been done, and how
it has been done, and then do one's own in one's own way. It is at least
as foolish to break quite away from what has been done as to tether
yourself to it. And in what has been done you will see, not only what is
worth doing, but what is not. That, each must judge for herself. For my
part, it seems to me the thing best worth doing is ornament. Any way,
this much is certain (and you have only to go to a museum to prove it),
that there is no need for needleworkers, unless their instinct draws
them that way, to take to needle painting, to pictures in silk, or even
to flower stitching.

The limitations of embroidery are not so rigidly marked as the
boundaries of many another craft. There is little technical difficulty
in representing flowers, for example, very naturally--too naturally for
any dignified decorative purpose. Embroiderer or embroidery designer
will, as a matter of fact, be constantly inspired by flower forms, and
silk gives the pure colour of their petals as nearly as may be. But,
though the pattern be a veritable flower garden, the embroidress will
not forget, to use the happy phrase of William Morris, that she is
gardening with silks and gold threads.

Let the needleworker study the work of the needle in preference to that
of the brush; let her aim at what stuff and threads will give her, and
give more readily than would something else. Let her work according to
the needle: take that for her guide, not be misled by what some other
tool can do better; do what the needle can do best, and be content with
that. That is the way to Art in Needlework, and the surest way.


Embroidery is not among the things which have to be done, and must be
done, therefore, as best one can do them. It is in the nature of a
superfluity: the excuse for it is that it is beautiful. It is not worth
doing unless it is done well, and in material worth the work done on it.
If you are going to spend the time you must spend to do good work, it is
worth while using good stuff, foolish to use anything else. The stuff
need not be costly, but it should be the best of its kind; and it should
be chosen with reference to the work to be done on it, and _vice versâ_.
A mean ground-stuff suggests, if it does not necessitate, its being
embroidered all over, ground-work as well as pattern; a worthier one,
that it should not be hidden altogether from view; a really beautiful
one, that enough of it should be left bare of ornament that its quality
may be appreciated.

[Sidenote: STUFFS.]

It goes without saying, that for big, bold stitching a proportionately
coarse ground-stuff should be used, and for delicate work, one of finer
texture; whether it be linen, woollen cloth, or silk, your purpose will

Linen is a worthy ground-stuff, which may be worked on with flax thread,
crewel, or silk, but they should not be mixed. Cotton is hardly worth
embroidering. Of woollen stuffs, good plain cloth is an excellent ground
for work in wool or silk, but it is not pleasant to the touch in
working. Serge, if not too loose, may serve for curtains and the like,
but it is not so well worth working upon. Felt is beneath contempt.

The nobler the material, the more essential it is that it should be of
the best. Poor satin is not "good enough to work on;" it looks poorer
than ever when it is embroidered.

Satin should be stretched upon the frame the way of the stuff, and it
should not be forgotten that it has a right and a wrong way up. If it is
backed, the linen should be fine and smooth: on a coarse backing, the
satin gets quickly worn away, as you may see in many a piece of old work
that has gone ragged.

"Roman satin" and what is called "_satin de luxe_" (perhaps because it
is not so luxurious as it pretends to be) are effective ground-stuffs
easy to work upon; but there is an odour of pretence about satin-faced

A corded silk is not good to embroider; the work on it looks hard; but a
close twill answers very well. Silk damask makes an admirable ground
beautifully broken in colour, if only it is simple and broad enough in
pattern. Generally speaking, you can hardly choose a design too big and
flat; but something depends upon the work to be done on it. In any case,
the pattern of the damask ought not to assert itself, and if you can't
make out its details, so much the better.

Brocade asserts itself too much to form a good background. There is a
practice of embroidering the outlines, or certain details only, of
damask and brocade patterns. That is a fair way of further enriching a
rich stuff; but it is embroidery merely in the sense that it is
literally embroidered: the needlework is only supplementary to weaving.

Tussah silk of the finer sort is easy to work in the hand. The thinner
and looser quality needs to be worked in a frame, and with smooth silk
not tightly twisted.

[Sidenote: THREAD.]

With regard to the thread to work with: The coarser kinds of flax are
best waxed before using. The crewel to be preferred is that not too
tightly twisted. Filoselle is well adapted to couching, and may be laid
double (24 threads). French floss is smooth, and does well for laid
work; for fine work bobbin floss, or what is called "church floss," is
better; the slight twist in filo-floss is against it; very thick floss
may be used for French knots.

For couching gold, a very fine twisted silk does well. Purse silk, thick
and twisted, lends itself perfectly to basket work. Working in coloured
silks, one should take advantage of the quality of pure transparent
colour which silk takes in the dyeing. The palette of the embroiderer in
silk is superlatively rich.

[Sidenote: GOLD.]

The purest gold is generally made on a foundation of _red_ silk.
Japanese gold does not tarnish so readily as "passing," which is in some
respects superior to it. For stitching through, there is a finer thread,
called "tambour." Flat gold wire is known by the name of "plate," and
various twisted threads by the name of "purl."

[Sidenote: CHENILLE.]

A not very promising substance to embroider with is chenille. It came
into use in the latter half of the 17th century, and was still in
fashion in the time of Marie Antoinette. The use of it is shown in
Illustration 75, where the darker touches of the roses are worked in it.
Chenille seems to have been used instead of smooth silk, much as in
certain old-fashioned water-colour paintings gum was used with the
paint, or over it, to deepen the shadows. The material is used again in
the wreath on Illustration 76. It is worked there in chain-stitch with
the tambour needle: it may also be worked in satin-stitch; but the more
obvious way of using it is to couch it, cord by cord, with fine silk
thread. There is this against chenille, that its texture is not
sympathetic to the touch, and that there is a stuffy look about it
always. Nor does it seem ever quite to belong to the smooth satin ground
on which it is worked.

[Sidenote: RIBBON.]

[Sidenote: SHADED SILK.]

There is less objection to embroidery in ribbon, which also had its day
in the 18th century. It was very much the fashion for court dresses
under Louis Seize--"_Broderie de faveur_," as it was called, whence our
"lady's favour"--_faveur_ being a narrow ribbon. Some beautiful work of
its kind was done in ribbon, sometimes _shaded_. Shaded silk, by the
way, may be used to artistic purpose. There is, for example, in the
treasury of Seville Cathedral a piece of work on velvet, 13th century,
it is said, rather Persian in character, in which the forms of certain
nondescript animals are at first sight puzzlingly prismatic in colour.
They turn out to be roughly worked in short stitches of parti-coloured
silk thread. The result is not altogether beautiful, but it is extremely

[Sidenote: RIBBON.]

The effect of ribbon work is happiest when it is not sewn through the
stuff after the manner of satin stitch, but lies on the surface of the
satin ground, and is only just caught down at the ends of the loops
which go to make leaves and petals. The twist of the ribbon where it
turns gives interest to the surface of the embroidery, which is always
more or less in relief upon the stuff, easy to crush, and of limited use


An effect of ribbon work, but of a harder kind, was produced by onlaying
narrow strips of card or parchment upon a silken ground, twisted about
after the fashion of ribbon. These, having been stitched in place,
were worked over in satin-stitch. The work has the merit of looking just
like what it is. But neither it nor ribbon embroidery is of any very
serious account.

Passing reference has been made to other materials to embroider with
than thread. Gold wire, for example, and spangles, coral and pearls,
which have been used with admirable discretion, as well as to vulgar
purpose. Jewels also were lavished upon the embroidery of bishops'
mitres, gloves and other significant apparel, and in default of real
stones, imitations in glass, and eventually beads (or pearls) of glass,
in which we have possibly the origin of knots. Bead embroidery is at
least as old as ancient Egypt. Even atoms of looking-glass, sewn round
with silk, have been used to really beautiful effect (barbaric though it
may be) in Indian work. The question almost occurs: with what can one
not embroider? In Madras they produce most brilliant embroidery upon
muslin with the cases of beetles' wings. In the Mauritius they use
fish-scales; in North America, porcupine quills; and everywhere savage
tribes use seeds, shells, feathers, and the teeth and claws of animals.

To return to more civilised work, there is embroidery in gold and silver
wire, allied to the art of the goldsmith, and on leather (Illustration
94), allied to the art of the saddler. It would be difficult to set any
limit to the directions in which embroidery may branch out, impossible
to describe them all. Happily, it is not necessary. A skilled worker
adapts herself to new conditions, and the conditions themselves dictate
the necessary modification of the familiar way.


A good workwoman will not encumber herself with too many tools; but she
will not shirk the expense of necessary implements, the simplest by
preference, and the best that are made.

[Sidenote: NEEDLES.]

Embroidery needles should have large eyes; the silk is not rubbed in
threading them, and they make way for the thread to pass smoothly
through the stuff. For working in twisted silk, the eye should be
roundish; for flat silk, long; for surface stitching or interlacing, a
blunt "tapestry needle" is best; for carrying cord or gold thread
through the stuff, a "rug needle."

[Sidenote: THIMBLE.]

For a thimble, choose an old one that has been worn quite smooth.

[Sidenote: SCISSORS.]

For scissors, be sure and have a strong, short, sharp and pointed
pair--the surgical instrument, not the fancy article. Nail scissors
would not be amiss but for the roughness of the file on the blades.

[Sidenote: PINS.]

For pins, use always steel ones; and for tacks, those which have been
tinned; or they will leave their mark behind them.

[Sidenote: FRAMES.]

For a frame, get the best you can afford; a cheap one is no economy;
but a stand for it is not always necessary. It should be rather wider
than might seem necessary, as the work should never extend to the full
width of the webbing. A tambour frame is also useful, though you have no
intention of doing tambour work.

[Sidenote: TO STRETCH SILK.]

In stretching silk (not backed with linen) upon a frame, some
preliminary care is necessary. The stuff should first be bordered with
strips of linen or strong tape, and into the two sides of this border
which are to be laced up a stout string should be tacked, to prevent it
from giving when the work is drawn tight.

[Sidenote: FRAMING.]

The way to put embroidery material (thus bordered or not) into a frame
is: first to sew it to the webbing (top and bottom), then to put the
laths or screws into the bars, tightening them evenly, and lastly to
lace it to the sides with fine string and a packing needle.


The ordinary ways of transferring a design to embroidery material are
well known: the outline may be traced down with a point over transfer
paper; it may be pricked upon paper and pounced upon the stuff in chalk
or charcoal, and then traced in with a brush or pen; or it (still the
outline only) may be stencilled. In any case, the outline marked upon
the stuff should be well within what is to be the actual outline of the
embroidery when worked. Another way, more peculiarly adapted to
needlework, is to trace the outline in ink upon fine tarlatan (leno
muslin will do for very coarse work), and, having laid this down upon
the stuff, to go over the lines again with a ruling pen and Indian ink
or colour. On a light stuff it is possible to use, instead of a pen, a
hard pencil. On a dark material one must use Chinese white, to which it
is well to add, not only a little gum (arabic), but a trace of ox-gall,
to make it work easily. One gets by this method naturally rather a
rotten line upon the ground-stuff, but it is enough for all practical

[Sidenote: KEEPING CLEAN.]

Delicate work is easily rubbed and soiled in the working. It is only
reasonable precaution to protect it by a veil or covering of thin, soft,
white glazed lining, tacked round the edges on to the stuff. On this you
mark the four lines inclosing the actual embroidery, and, cutting
through three of them, you have a flap of lining, which you raise and
turn back when you are at work. If the work is very delicate, you may
make instead of one flap a succession of little ones; but you see then
only a portion of your work at a time, and cannot so well judge its


In starting work, do not begin by making a knot in your thread; run a
few stitches (presently to be worked over) on the right side of the
stuff. In finishing, you run them at the back of the stuff; for greater
security still, one may end with a buttonhole-stitch.

[Sidenote: PUCKERING.]

There is less danger of puckering the stuff if you hold it over two
fingers (at least), keeping it taut and the thread loose.

Working without a frame, it often comes handiest to hold the stuff
askew, and there is a natural inclination to pull it in that direction.
This temptation must be resisted, or puckering is sure to result.

[Sidenote: DOUBLE THREAD.]

In working with double silk or wool, it is better not to double back a
single thread, but to pass two separate threads through the eye of the
needle. The four threads (where these are turned back near the eye) make
way through the stuff for the double thread, which passes easily;
moreover, the thread by this means is not pulled too tight, and the
effect is richer.

The stitch wants always adaptation to the work it has to do. In working
a curved line, for example, say in herring-bone-stitch, one is bound
always to take up a larger piece of stuff on its outside than on its
inner edge.

When a thread runs short, it is better not to go on working with it, but
to take another; and in finishing off, remember to run the thread in the
direction opposite to that from which you are going to run the new one.
In starting the new stitch, you naturally bring your needle out as if it
were a continuation of that last made.

[Sidenote: UNDOING.]

If your work is faulty, cut it out and do it again. Unpicking is not so
satisfactory: it loosens the stuff to drag the thread back through it,
and the thread saved is of no further use. Beginners find it hard to
undo work once done; but a really good needlewoman never hesitates about
it--her one thought is to get the thing right. Don't break your thread
ever: that pulls it out of condition: cut it always.

In working, it is well to keep strictly to the stitch you have chosen,
but not to the point of bigotry. One may finish off darning, for
example, at the edges with a satin stitch. The thing to avoid is
fudging. Moreover, stitches should be laid right at once; there should
be no boggling and botching, no working-over with stitches to make
good--that is not playing fair.

[Sidenote: SMOOTHING.]

When the needlework is done, do not finish it with a flat iron. That
finishes it in more senses than one. But suppose it is puckered? In that
case, stretch it and damp it. To do this, first tack on to it (as
explained on page 251) a frame of strong tape. Then, on a drawing-board
or other even wooden surface, lay a piece of clean calico, and on that,
face downwards, the embroidery, and, slightly stretching it, nail it
down by the tape with tin-tacks rather close together. If now you lay
upon it a damp cloth, the embroidery will absorb the moisture from it,
and when that is removed, should dry as flat as it is possible to get

A rather more daring plan is to damp the back of the stuff with a wet
sponge. The work, instead of being nailed on to a board, may just as
well be laced to a frame by the tape. In the case of raised embroidery
there must be between it and the wood, not a cloth merely, but a layer
of wadding.

The damping above described may take the form of a thin paste or
stiffening, but upon silk or other such material this wants tenderly

One last word as to thoroughness in needlework. Those who have really
not time to do much, should be satisfied with simple work. The desire to
make a great show with little work is a snare. Ladies make protest
always, "There is too much work in that." Well, if they are not prepared
to work, they may as well give themselves up to their play. There was no
labour shirked in the old work illustrated in these pages; and nothing
much worth doing was ever done without work, hard work, and plenty of
it. Should that thought frighten folk away, they may as well be scared
off at once. Art can do very well without them.


    ADAPTATION of stitch, 103, 188, 253

    ANTIQUE stitch, 66
      (_See also Oriental-stitch_)

    APPLIQUÉ, 140, 144 _et seq._, 220, 222, 224

    ARAB work, 152

    ARTLESS art, 37, 236

    ATTACHMENT of cord, 124

    BACKSTITCH, 30, 37, 41, 53, 83, 86, 172, 226, 230

    BASKET patterns, 134

    BEADS, 248



    BRAID-STITCH, 42, 43

    BROAD surfaces (covering), 178

    BROCADE, 244

    BULLION, 165

    BULLION-STITCH, 75, 76, 162, 165

    BUTTONHOLE-STITCH, 8, 55 _et seq._, 69, 122, 145, 158, 178, 182

    BUTTONHOLING (lace), 84, 86

    BYZANTINE embroidery, 12, 24


    CANVAS, 7, 25

    CANVAS stitches, 12 _et seq._

    CANVAS-STITCH embroidery, 22

    CARD underlay, 162, 246

    CASHMERE embroidery, 228


    CHAIN-STITCH, 38 _et seq._, 61, 83, 129, 145, 156, 158, 178, 182,
        202, 226, 245

    CHENILLE, 245

    CHINESE embroidery, 78, 96, 129, 136, 140, 152

    CHURCH work, 41, 136, 148, 166, 216 _et seq._

    CLASSIFICATION of stitches, 9, 175 _et seq._

    CLOTH, 125, 126, 159, 243

    COLOUR, 110, 208

    COLOUR gradation, 98, 114, 118

    COLOUR and outline, 146, 185

    COMBINATION of stitches, 182

    COPTIC embroidery, 12, 226

      "    tapestry, 2

    CORAL, 166, 248

    CORD, 122

      "   (couched), 128, 144, 178, 182

      "   (attachment of), 124

    COTTON, 243

    COUCHED cord, 128, 144, 178, 182

      "     gold, 131 _et seq._, 182

      "     outline, 146

    COUCHING, 22, 114, 120, 121, 122 _et seq._, 244

      "       (reverse), 130


    CRETAN embroidery, 12

      (_See also Ladder-stitch_)

    CREWEL, 244

    CREWEL-STITCH, 26 _et seq._, 83, 86, 103, 105, 178

          "        (surface), 86

    CREWEL work, 26, 36, 37

    CROSS-STITCH, 12, 14, 16

    CROSSED buttonhole-stitch, 56

    CUSHION-STITCH, 20, 21

    CUT-WORK, 156

    DAMASK, 243, 244

    DAMPING, 254, 255

    DARNING, 8, 22, 83, 90, 106 _et seq._, 178, 179

       "     (Japanese), 86

       "     (surface), 84

    DESIGN, 150, 219, 233 _et seq._

      "     traditional, 238, 240

    DESIGN and stitch, 10, 238

    DESIGNER and embroiderer, 232, 233

    DIAPERS, 87, 88, 108, 132, 134, 210

    DIRECTION of stitch, 92, 95, 108, 114, 136, 190, 208 _et seq._

    DOUBLE darning, 106

      "    thread, 253

    DOVETAIL-STITCH, 103, 104
      (_See also Embroidery and Plumage Stitches_)

    DRAWING with the needle, 192, 194, 196, 199, 211

    DRAWN work, 2, 4

    EASTERN embroidery.
      (_See Oriental_)

    EFFECT and stitch, 36, 78

    EIGHTEENTH century embroidery, 220, 246

    EMBROIDERY and painting, 201, 202

      (_See also Plumage-stitch_)

    ENGLISH embroidery, 34, 36, 169

    FEATHER-STITCH, 62 _et seq._, 83, 100, 178

    FELT, 243

    FIFTEENTH century embroidery, 24, 164

    FIGURE work, 116, 169, 190, 198 _et seq._

    FILLING-IN patterns, 24

    FILO-FLOSS, 164, 244

    FILOSELLE, 124, 144, 244

    FISHBONE, 21, 47, 51

    FLAX thread, 164, 244

    FLEMISH embroidery, 142, 200

    FLESH, 204, 206

      (_See also Cushion stitch_)

    FLOSS, 95, 114, 116, 118, 120, 244

    FORM and stitch, 44, 47, 100, 118, 176, 211, 253

    FRAMING work, 251

    FRENCH embroidery, 88, 245

      "    floss, 244

      "    knots, 77, 129, 150, 178, 244

    GEOMETRIC pattern, 225

    GERMAN embroidery, 110, 125, 126, 156, 185, 226

    GERMAN knot-stitch, 72


    GOLD, 210, 222, 245

      "   (couched), 131 _et seq._, 182

      "   (raised),  134, 136, 165

    GOLD thread, 131, 245

      "  tinted by couching stitches, 142

      "  wire, 169, 248


    HERALDIC embroidery, 156

    HERRINGBONE-STITCH, 8, 22, 47 _et seq._, 83, 178, 182

    HILDESHEIM cope (the), 126

    HUNGARIAN embroidery, 2

        "     stitch, 18

    INDIAN embroidery, 41, 46, 61, 95, 98, 154, 169, 222, 248

    INDIAN herring-bone, 48

    INLAY, 153

    INTERLACING stitches, 83

    ITALIAN embroidery, 22, 24, 37, 46, 138

    ITALIAN embroidery (Renaissance), 22, 41, 120, 142, 154, 199

    JAPANESE darning, 86, 87

       "     embroidery, 80

       "     gold, 245

    JEWELS, 165, 248

    KNOT stitches, 72 _et seq._, 182

    LACE, 1, 2

    LACE stitches, 84 _et seq._

    LADDER-STITCH, 59, 61, 182

    LAID-WORK, 112 _et seq._, 162, 178

    LEATHER, 248

    LEATHER on velvet, 150

    LENGTH of stitch, 96, 100

    LIMITATIONS of embroidery, 240

    LINE work, 176, 178

    LINEN, 164, 243

      "    (embroidery on), 24

    LONG-AND-SHORT-STITCH, 36, 98, 100, 178, 190, 192


    MATERIAL (influence of on stitch), 12, 13, 16, 18, 24, 88, 91

    MATERIALS, 242 _et seq._

    MECHANICAL embroidery, 225

    MEDIÆVAL work, 92, 136, 140, 190


    MODELLING, 222

    MODEST work, 230, 231

    MOORISH-STITCH, 18, 21

    MOROCCO embroidery, 152

    NEEDLE (tambour), 38, 245

    NEEDLE pictures, 201

    NEEDLES, 250

    NET passing, 86


    OPUS Anglicanum, 9

    ORIENTAL embroidery, 2, 22, 61, 92, 112, 136, 140, 153, 226

        "    stitch, 66 _et seq._, 83, 178, 182


    OUTLINE, 22, 77, 108, 146, 158, 178, 184, 185 _et seq._

       "     (couched), 126, 128, 146

       "     (double), 146, 185, 186

       "     (stepped), 16, 24

       "     (voided), 96, 187

    OUTLINE embroidery, 138

       "    stitch, 29, 30, 32, 86

    PADDING, 159, 172

    PAINTING, 201, 202

    PARCHMENT, 160, 168, 246


    PATCHWORK, 156

    PEARLS, 165, 166, 248

    PEASANT work, 12, 13, 226

    PERSIAN embroidery, 7, 24, 41, 174, 228

    PICTORIAL effect, 198, 199, 201

    PICTURES (tent-stitch), 14, 20

    PIERCE, 132

    PINS, 146, 250


    PLATE, 245

    PLUMAGE-STITCH, 62, 100, 103, 178, 179, 192, 212


    PURL, 245

    PURSE silk, 116, 162

    QUILTING, 172 _et seq._

    RAISED gold, 134, 136, 165 _et seq._

      "    work, 134, 136, 159 _et seq._

    RELIEF, 159 _et seq._, 166, 168, 169, 172, 222

    RENAISSANCE embroidery, 41, 92, 142, 154, 166

    RENEWING ground, 126

    REVERSE-couching, 130

    RIBBON, 150, 246

    RIBBON work, 246

      (_See also Bullion-stitch_)

    ROMAN satin, 243

    ROPE-STITCH, 71 _et seq._, 178

    RUNNING, 83, 106, 179

    SATIN, 243

      "   "de luxe", 243

      "   on velvet, 150

    SATIN-STITCH, 24, 91 _et seq._, 103, 112, 128, 158, 160,
        162, 175, 178, 182, 192, 206, 212, 245

    SATIN-STITCH (surface), 98, 282

    SATIN-STITCH in the making, 91

    SCISSORS, 250

    SERGE, 243

    SEVENTEENTH century embroidery, 14, 166

    SHADED silk, 246

    SHADING, 34, 176, 188 _et seq._

    SILK, 146, 243

     "    (tussah), 244

     "    (twisted), 95, 124, 125

     "    on silk, 150

    SILKS, 244

    SILVER, 135, 138, 166

    SIMPLICITY, 180, 236, 238

        "       (a plea for), 225 _et seq._

    SIXTEENTH century embroidery, 22, 120, 125, 142, 185, 199

    SOLID chain-stitch, 43, 44

      "   crewel-stitch, 32, 34

    SOUDANESE embroidery, 112

    SPANGLES, 169, 248

    SPANISH embroidery, 129, 142, 154, 166, 185

    SPANISH-STITCH, 18, 22 (_See also Plait-stitch_)

    SPLIT-STITCH, 38, 100, 105, 114, 179, 190, 196, 222



    STEMS, 95

    STEPPED outline, 16, 24

    STILETTO, 174

    STITCH (definition of), 11

       "   adaptation, 103, 188, 253

       "   and effect, 36, 78

       "   and form, 44, 47, 100, 118, 176, 211, 253

       "   and stuff, 12, 13, 16, 18, 24, 88, 91

       "   groups, 9, 175 _et seq._

       "   names, 8, 9

       "   patterns, 87, 88

       "   and design, 10, 238


    STITCHING over stitching, 215

    STRETCHING work, 251, 254

    STRING, 159, 160, 162


    STUFFS, 242

    SURFACE crewel-stitch, 86

       "    darning, 84

       "    satin-stitch, 98, 182

       "    stitches, 84

    SYON COPE (the), 7, 130, 210

    TAILORS' buttonhole, 56

    TAMBOUR, 245

       "     frame, 44

       "     needle, 38, 245

       "     stitch, 38

       "     work, 44, 194

    TAPESTRY, 1, 2, 4, 143, 220


    TENDRILS, 130

    TENT-STITCH, 14, 18

    THIMBLE, 250

    THREAD, 244

    TRADITIONAL design, 238, 240

    TRANSFERRING design, 251

    TURKISH embroidery, 22

    TUSSAH silk, 244

    TWISTED silk, 95, 124, 125

    UNDERLAY, 159, 160, 165

    UNPICKING, 253

    VANDYKE chain, 42

    VARIETY of method, 148, 158

       "    of stitch, 180 _et seq._

    VELVET, 150, 222

    VENETIAN embroidery, 138

    VOIDING, 96, 187

    WEAVING, 2

    WHITE on white, 162, 230

    WOOL. (_See Crewel_)

    WOOLLEN stuffs, 243

    THE END.


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describes and illustrates in a very interesting way the Decorative
treatment of Rooms during the Renaissance period, and deduces principles
for the decoration, furnishing, and arrangements of Modern Houses.

    "... has illustrations which are beautiful ... because they
    illustrate the sound and simple principle of decoration which the
    authors put forward.... The book is one which should be in the
    library of every man and woman of means, for its advice is
    characterised by so much common sense as well as by the best of
    taste."--_The Queen._

THE HISTORIC STYLES OF ORNAMENT. Containing 1,500 examples from all
countries and all periods, exhibited on 100 Plates, mostly printed in
gold and colours. With historical and descriptive text translated from
the German of H. DOLMETSCH. Folio, handsomely bound in cloth, gilt,
price £1 5_s._ net.

This work has been designed to serve as a practical guide for the
purpose of showing the development of Ornament, and the application of
colour to it in various countries through the epochs of history. The
work illustrates not only Flat Ornament, but also many Decorative
showing the application of Ornament to Industrial Art.

_Just Published._

A MANUAL OF HISTORIC ORNAMENT, being an Account of the Development of
Architecture and the Historic Arts, for the use of Students and
Craftsmen. By RICHARD GLAZIER, A.R.I.B.A., Headmaster of the Manchester
School of Art. Containing 42 Plates and 100 Illustrations in the text.
Demy 8vo, cloth. Price 5_s._

The object of this book is to furnish students with a concise account of
Historic Ornament, in which the rise of each style is noted, and its
characteristic features illustrated. It contains upwards of 400 subjects
drawn by the author, and includes examples of Architectural Detail and
Plastic Ornament, Pottery, Textile Fabrics, Glass, Metal-work, Mosaic,
Painted Faïence, &c., &c. of various countries.

AMATEURS. By GAWTHORP (Art Metal Worker to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales).
Second and enlarged Edition. With 32 Illustrations, many from
photographs of executed designs. Crown 8vo, in wrapper. Price 1_s._ net.

the Horological Institute. Being an Account of the History of Clocks and
Watches, their Mechanism and Ornamentation, to which is appended a List
of 8,000 Old Makers, with descriptive Notes. Containing over 400
Illustrations, many reproduced from photographs, of choice and curious
examples, of Clocks and Watches of the past in England and abroad,
including the finely-ornamented Bracket Clocks of the XVIIth Century,
with their ingenious mechanism, and the tall and elegant cases of the
XVIIIth Century, also a selection of Portraits of the most renowned
Masters of the Clockmaker's Art. 512 pages. Demy 8vo, cloth, gilt. Price
10_s._ net.

KING RENÉ'S HONEYMOON CABINET. A Monograph. By _John P. Seddon_,
Architect. Illustrated by 10 photographic reproductions of the Cabinet,
and the Panels, painted by the late SIR E. BURNE JONES, _Dante Gabriel
Rossetti_, and _Ford Madox Brown_. With a chapter on the Hereditary
Earls of Anjou, by G. H. BIRCH, F.S.A. Large 8vo, cloth, price 5_s._

This interesting little work has been issued by the author to make known
and commemorate some early designs by the celebrated artists. Very few
copies are printed for sale.

_A small remainder, just reduced in price._

ANIMALS IN ORNAMENT. By Professor G. STURM. Containing 30 large
collotype plates, printed in tint, of designs suitable for Friezes,
Panels, Borders, Wall-papers, Carving, and all kinds of Surface
Decoration, &c. Large folio in portfolio, price 18_s._ net (published £1

A new and useful series of clever designs, showing how animal forms may
be adapted to decorative purposes with good effect.

A HISTORY OF DESIGN IN PAINTED GLASS.--From the Earliest Times to the
end of the Seventeenth Century. By N. H. J. WESTLAKE, F.S.A. Containing
467 illustrations with historical text. Four volumes, small folio,
cloth, price £5 10_s._, net £4 8_s._

    _Very few copies remain for sale of this valuable work._


FINE. Forming a Prefatory Volume to the Series of Text Books. Second
Edition, revised, containing 70 Illustrations (Third Thousand). Crown
8vo, art linen, price 3_s._ 6_d._, net 3_s._

    "Authoritative as coming from a writer whose mastery of the subjects
    is not to be disputed, and who is generous in imparting the
    knowledge he acquired with difficulty. Mr. Day has taken much
    trouble with the new edition."--_Architect._

    "A good artist, and a sound thinker, Mr. Day has produced a book of
    sterling value."--_Magazine of Art._

THE ANATOMY OF PATTERN.--Containing: I. Introductory. II. Pattern
Dissections. III. Practical Pattern Planning. IV. The "Drop" Pattern. V.
Skeleton Plans. VI. Appropriate Pattern. Fourth Edition (Ninth
Thousand), revised, with 41 full-page Illustrations. Crown 8vo, art
linen, price 3_s._ 6_d._, net 3_s._

    "... There are few men who know the science of their profession
    better or can teach it as well as Mr. Lewis Day; few also who are
    more gifted as practical decorators; and in anatomising pattern in
    the way he has done in this manual--a way beautiful as well as
    useful--he has performed a service not only to the students of his
    profession, but also to the public."--_Academy._

THE PLANNING OF ORNAMENT.--Containing: I. Introductory. II. The Use of
the Border. III. Within the Border. IV. Some Alternatives in Design. V.
On the Filling of the Circle and other Shapes. VI. Order and Accident.
Third Edition (Fifth Thousand), further revised, with 41 full-page
Illustrations, many of which have been re-drawn. Crown 8vo, art linen,
price 3_s._ 6_d._, net 3_s._

    "Contains many apt and well-drawn illustrations; it is a highly
    comprehensive, compact, and intelligent treatise on a subject which
    is more difficult to treat than outsiders are likely to think. It is
    a capital little book, from which no tyro (it is addressed to
    improvable minds) can avoid gaining a good deal."--_Athenæum._

THE APPLICATION OF ORNAMENT.--Containing: I. The Rationale of the
Conventional. II. What is Implied by Repetition. III. Where to Stop in
Ornament. IV. Style and Handicraft. V. The Teaching of the Tool. VI.
Some Superstitions. Third Edition (Sixth Thousand), further revised,
with 48 full-page Illustrations and 7 Woodcuts in the text. Crown 8vo,
art linen, price 3_s._ 6_d._, net 3_s._

    "A most worthy supplement to the former work, and a distinct gain to
    the art student who has already applied his art knowledge in a
    practical manner, or who hopes yet to do so."--_Science and Art._

ORNAMENTAL DESIGN.--Comprising the above Three Books, "ANATOMY OF
handsomely bound in one volume, cloth gilt, price 10_s._ 6_d._, net
8_s._ 6_d._

NATURE IN ORNAMENT.--With 123 full-page Plates and 192 Illustrations in
the text. Third Edition (Fifth Thousand). Thick crown 8vo, in handsome
cloth binding, richly gilt, price 12_s._ 6_d._, net 10_s._

CONTENTS: I. Introductory. II. Ornament in Nature. III. Nature in
Ornament. IV. The Simplification of Natural Forms. V. The Elaboration of
Natural Forms. VI. Consistency in the Modification of Nature. VII.
Parallel Renderings. VIII. More Parallels. IX. Tradition in Design. X.
Treatment. XI. Animals in Ornament. XII. The Element of the Grotesque.
XIII. Still Life in Ornament. XIV. Symbolic Ornament.

    "Amongst the best of our few good ornamental designers is Mr. Lewis
    F. Day, who is the author of several books on ornamental art.
    'Nature in Ornament' is the latest of these, and is probably the
    best. The treatise should be in the hands of every student of
    ornamental design. It is profusely and admirably illustrated, and
    well printed."--_Magazine of Art._

    "A book more beautiful for its illustrations, or one more helpful to
    Students of Art, can hardly be imagined."--_Queen._

A HANDBOOK OF ORNAMENT.--With 300 Plates, containing about 3,000
Illustrations of the Elements and Application of Decoration to Objects.
By F. S. MEYER, Professor at the School of Applied Art, Karlsruhe. Third
English Edition, revised by HUGH STANNUS, Lecturer on Applied Art at the
Royal College of Art, South Kensington. Thick 8vo, cloth gilt, gilt top,
price 12_s._ 6_d._, net 10_s._

    "A Library, a Museum, an Encyclopædia and an Art School in one. To
    rival it as a book of reference, one must fill a bookcase. The
    quality of the drawings is unusually high, the choice of examples is
    singularly good.... The work is practically an epitome of a hundred
    Works on Design."--_Studio._

    "The author's acquaintance with ornament amazes, and his three
    thousand subjects are gleaned from the finest which the world
    affords. As a treasury of ornament drawn to scale in all styles, and
    derived from genuine concrete objects, we have nothing in England
    which will not appear as poverty-stricken as compared with Professor
    Meyer's book."--_Architect._

    "The book is a mine of wealth even to an ordinary reader, while to
    the Student of Art and Archæology it is simply indispensable as a
    reference book. We know of no one work of its kind that approaches
    it for comprehensiveness and historical accuracy."--_Science and

A HANDBOOK OF ART SMITHING.--For the use of Practical Smiths, Designers
and others, and in Art and Technical Schools. By F. S. MEYER, Author of
"A Handbook of Ornament." Translated from the Second German Edition.
With an Introduction by J. STARKIE GARDNER. Containing 214
Illustrations. Demy 8vo, cloth, price 6_s._, net 5_s._

Both the Artistic and Practical Branches of the subject are dealt with,
and the Illustrations give selected Examples of Ancient and Modern
Ironwork. The Volume thus fills the long-existing want of a Manual on
Ornamental Ironwork, and it is hoped will prove of value to all
interested in the subject.

    "Charmingly produced.... It is really a most excellent manual,
    crowded with examples of ancient work, for the most part extremely
    well selected."--_The Studio._

    "Professor Meyer's work is a useful historical manual on art
    smithing, based on a scientific classification of the subject, that
    will be of service to all smiths, designers, and students of
    technical and art schools. The illustrations are well drawn and
    numerous."--_Building News._

_Published with the Sanction of the Science and Art Department._

printed in Collotype from Photographs specially taken from the Carvings
direct. Edited by ELEANOR ROWE. Part I.: Late 15th and Early 16th
Century Examples; Part II.: 16th Century Work; Part III.: 17th and 18th
Centuries. The Three Series Complete, each containing 18 large folio
Plates, with descriptive letterpress. Folio, in portfolios, price 12_s._
each net; or handsomely bound in one volume, £2 5_s._ net.

    "Students of the Art of Wood Carving will find a mine of
    inexhaustible treasures in this series of illustrations of French
    Wood Carvings.... Each plate is a work of art in itself; the
    distribution of light and shade is admirably managed, and the
    differences in relief are faithfully indicated, while every detail
    is reproduced with a clearness that will prove invaluable to the
    student. Sections are given with several of the plates."--_The

    "Needs only to be seen to be purchased by all interested in the
    craft, whether archæologically or practically."--_The Studio._

revised and enlarged, Illustrated. 8vo, sewed, price 1_s._ in paper
covers, or bound in cloth, price 1_s._ 6_d._

    "The most useful and practical small book on wood-carving we know

    "... Is a useful little book, full of sound directions and good
    suggestions."--_Magazine of Art._

HINTS ON CHIP CARVING.--(Class Teaching and other Northern Styles.) By
ELEANOR ROWE. 40 Illustrations. 8vo, sewed, price 1_s._ in paper covers,
or in cloth, price 1_s._ 6_d._

    "A capital manual of instruction in a craft that ought to be most
    popular."--_Saturday Review._

DETAILS OF GOTHIC WOOD CARVING.--Being a Series of Drawings from
original work of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. By FRANKLYN A.
CRALLAN. Containing 34 large Photo-lithographic Plates, with
introductory and descriptive text. Large 4to, in handsome cloth
portfolio, or bound in cloth gilt, price 28_s._, net 22_s._

    "The examples are carefully drawn to a large size ... well selected
    and very well executed."--_The Builder._

With a Preface by Miss ROWE. Consisting of five large folding sheets of
Illustrations (drawn full size), of a variety of objects suitable for
Wood Carving. With descriptive text. Second Edition, enlarged. 4to, in
portfolio. Price 5_s._ net.

Letterpress by JOHN WILLIS CLARK. 29 folio Lithographed Plates drawn to
a good scale. Cloth gilt, a handsome volume, price 10_s._ 6_d._, net
8_s._ 6_d._

This Work, giving an interesting and useful series of Examples, is but
little known. Very few copies remain.

Designs for every article of Household Furniture in the newest and most
approved taste. A complete facsimile reproduction of this rare work,
containing nearly 300 charming Designs on 128 Plates. Small folio, bound
in speckled cloth, gilt, old style, price £2 10_s._ net. (1794.)
_Original copies when met with fetch from £17 to £18._

    "A beautiful replica, which every admirer of the author and period
    should possess."--_Building News._

facsimile of the 3rd and rarest Edition, containing 200 Plates of
Designs of Chairs, Sofas, Beds and Couches, Tables, Library Book Cases,
Clock Cases, Stove Grates, &c., &c. Folio, strongly bound in half-cloth,
price £3 15_s._ net. (1762.)

Facsimile Reproduction of the scarce Third Edition. With the rare
Appendix and Accompaniment complete. Containing in all 434 pages and 122
Plates. 4to, cloth, price £2 10_s._ net.

ALFRED ERNEST CHANCELLOR. Containing 40 Photo-lithographic Plates
exhibiting some 100 examples of Elizabethan, Stuart, Queen Anne,
Georgian and Chippendale furniture; and an interesting variety of
Continental work. With historical and descriptive notes. Large 4to,
gilt, price £1 5_s._, net £1 1_s._

    "In publishing his admirable collection of drawings of old
    furniture, Mr. Chancellor secures the gratitude of all admirers of
    the consummate craftsmanship of the past. His examples are selected
    from a variety of sources with fine discrimination, all having an
    expression and individuality of their own--qualities that are so
    conspicuously lacking in the furniture of our own day. It forms a
    very acceptable work."--_The Morning Post._

ALDAM HEATON. Two volumes, each of two parts, bound in four, large
folio, cloth, price £7 net. Containing upwards of 150 plates of
photographic reproductions from the published designs of R. & J. Adam,
Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Shearer, Pergolesi, Cipriani, Darly,
Johnson, Richardson, and all great English designers and cabinet-makers
of the period.

This work forms an encyclopædic and almost inexhaustible treasury of
reference for all Furniture Designers, Painters, Interior Decorators,
Cabinet-makers, &c., since no artist of importance is unrepresented, and
a fair selection is in every case given of his work.

Screens, Book-Boards, Roofs, Pulpits, &c., containing 21 Plates
beautifully engraved on Copper, from drawings by T. TALBOT BURY, Archt.
4to, half-bound, price 10_s._ 6_d._, net 8_s._ 6_d._

WALL PAPERS, INLAYS, &C., &C.--150 Plates, some printed in Colours,
exhibiting upwards of 500 Historical Examples of Textiles, Embroideries,
Paper Hangings, Tile Pavements, Intarsia Work, &c. With some Designs by
Dr. FISCHBACH. Imperial 4to boards, cloth back, price £1 5_s._, net

K. COLLING, Architect, F.R.I.B.A. Taken from Buildings of the XIIth to
the XVth Century. Containing 76 Lithographic Plates, and 79 Woodcut
Illustrations, with Text. Royal 4to, cloth, gilt top, price 18_s._, net
15_s._ (published at £2 2_s._)

PLASTERING--PLAIN AND DECORATIVE. A Practical Treatise on the Art and
Craft of Plastering and Modelling. Including full descriptions of the
various Tools, Materials, Processes and Appliances employed. With over
50 full-page Plates, and about 500 smaller Illustrations in the Text. By
WILLIAM MILLAR. With an Introduction, treating of the History of the
Art, by G. T. ROBINSON, F.S.A. Thick 4to, cloth, containing 600 pages of
text, price 18_s._ net.

    "This new and in many senses remarkable treatise ... unquestionably
    contains an immense amount of valuable first-hand information....
    'Millar on Plastering' may be expected to be the standard authority
    on the subject for many years to come.... A truly monumental
    work."--_The Builder._

many in Gold and Colours, representing all Classes of Natural and
Conventional Forms, drawn from the Originals, with introductory,
descriptive, and analytical text. By T. W. CUTLER, F.R.I.B.A. Imperial
4to, in elegant cloth binding, price £2 6_s._, £1 18_s._ net.

EBBETTS. Containing 16 large Lithographic Plates, illustrating 70
English examples of Screens, Grilles, Panels, Balustrades, &c. Folio,
boards, cloth back, price 12_s._ 6_d._, net 10_s._

_A Facsimile reproduction of one of the rarest and most remarkable Books
of Designs ever published in England._

TIJOU. Containing severall sortes of Iron Worke, as Gates,
Frontispieces, Balconies, Staircases, Pannells, &c., of which the most
part hath been wrought at the Royall Building of Hampton Court, &c. ALL
the author in London, 1693.) Containing 20 folio Plates. With
Introductory Note and Descriptions of the Plates by J. STARKIE GARDNER.
Folio, bound in boards, old style, price 25_s._ net.

Only 150 copies were printed for England, and very few now remain. An
original copy is priced at £48 by Mr. Quaritch, the renowned bookseller.


BOOK I.--Containing over 1,500 engraved curios, and most ingenious
Geometric Patterns of Circles, Medallions, &c., comprising Conventional
Details of Plants, Flowers, Leaves, Petals, also Birds, Fans, Animals,
Key Patterns, &c., &c. Oblong 12mo, fancy covers, price 2_s._ net.

BOOK II.--Containing over 600 most original and effective Designs for
Diaper Ornament, giving the base lines to the design, also artistic
Miniature Picturesque Sketches. Oblong 12mo, price 2_s._ net.

These books exhibit the varied charm and originality of conception of
Japanese Ornament, and form an inexhaustible field of design.

FLOWERS.--By the celebrated Japanese Artist, BAIREI KONO. In three
Books, 8vo, each containing 36 pages of highly artistic and decorative
Illustrations, printed in tints. Bound in fancy paper covers, price
10_s._ net.

    "In attitude and gesture and expression, these Birds, whether
    perching or soaring, swooping or brooding, are
    admirable."--_Magazine of Art._

acknowledged leading living Artist in Japan. In 3 Books, containing
numerous exceedingly Artistic Sketches in various tints, 8vo, fancy
covers. Price 10_s._ net.

Flowers, and Plants, drawn in a Decorative Spirit. Vol. II.: Sketches of
Insects, Plants, &c., drawn for Designers. Vol. III.: Drawings of Fishes
and Marine Animals. Vol. IV.: Natural Scenery, Landscapes, &c. Vol. V.:
Scenes from Japanese Life, &c. 8vo, fancy covers. 7_s._ 6_d._ net.

Use of Students and Others. By W. J. ANDERSON, A.R.I.B.A., Director of
Architecture, Glasgow School of Art. Second Edition, revised and
enlarged. Containing 64 full-page Plates, mostly reproduced from
Photographs, and 100 Illustrations in text. Large 8vo, cloth gilt, price
12_s._ 6_d._ net.

    "A delightful and scholarly work ... very fully
    illustrated."--_Journal R.I.B.A._

    "It is the work of a scholar taking a large view of his subject....
    The book affords easy and intelligible reading, and the arrangement
    of the subject is excellent, though this was a matter of no small
    difficulty."--_The Times._

    "Should rank amongst the best architectural writings of the
    day."--_The Edinburgh Review._

    "We know of no book which furnishes such information and such
    illustrations in so compact and attractive a form. For greater
    excellence with the object in hand there is not one more
    perspicuous."--_The Building News._

a Comparative View of the Historical Styles from the Earliest Period. By
BANISTER FLETCHER, F.R.I.B.A., Professor of Architecture in King's
College, London, and B. F. FLETCHER, A.R.I.B.A. Containing 300 pages,
with 115 Collotype Plates, mostly from large Photographs, and other
Illustrations in the text. Third Edition, revised. Cr. 8vo, cloth gilt,
price 12_s._ 6_d._, net 10_s._

    "We shall be amazed if it is not immediately recognised and adopted
    as _par excellence_ the student's manual of the history of
    architecture."--_The Architect._

    "The general reader will read the book with not less profit than the
    student, and will find in it quite as much as he is likely to retain
    in his memory, and the architectural student in search of any
    particular fact will readily find it in this most methodical
    work.... As complete as it well can be."--_The Times._

    "As a synopsis of architectural dates and styles, Professor Banister
    Fletcher's work will fill a void in our literature, and become a
    most useful manual."--_The Building News._

by R. PHENÉ SPIERS, F.S.A., F.R.I.B.A. Third Edition, revised and
enlarged, containing 26 Plates. 4to, cloth, price 10_s._ 6_d._, net
8_s._ 6_d._

    "A most useful work for architectural students.... Mr. Spiers has
    done excellent service in editing this work, and his notes on the
    plates are very appropriate and useful."--_British Architect._

selected from the purest executed between the years 1500-1560. By ANDREW
N. PRENTICE, A.R.I.B.A. Containing 60 beautiful Plates, reproduced by
Photo-lithography and Photo Process from the author's drawings, of
Perspective Views and Geometrical Drawings, and details, in Stone, Wood,
and Metal. With short descriptive text. Folio, handsomely bound in cloth
gilt, price £2 10_s._, net £2 2_s._

    "For the drawing and production of this book one can have no words
    but praise.... It is a pleasure to have so good a record of such
    admirable Architectural Drawing, free, firm and delicate."--_British


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

The following printer's errors have been corrected in the text:

  page xxi:
  Part of a fan
      "f" of "fan" not printed in original

  page 62:
  The feathery stem (A) on the sampler
      "the" missing in original

  page 70:
  except that it has something of the appearance
      "of" missing in original

  page 223:
  in no case does it appear to be stitching
      "t" of "it" not printed in original

  page 225:
  forms of needlework
      "froms" printed for "forms" in original

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